Possessing excellent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antibacterial properties, the billy goat plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) ranks as one of the healthiest foods on the planet. The fruit is also known as Kakadu plum, gubinge and murunga and originates in northern Australia. According to research, the billy goat plum boasts one of the highest vitamin C content of all known plants, comparable to that of renowned food supplement brands.
In addition to this, studies reveal that it is an important source of potent antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol, lutein, gallic acid and ellagic acid, which would explain its out of the ordinary healing properties. Its extremely high ascorbic acid content alone is enough to exert gastrointestinal benefits, boost immunity, improve nutrient absorption, reduce inflammation levels and protect against cell and DNA damage from harmful free radicals.
What do billy goat plums (or Kakadu plums) look like? Billy goat plums are tiny, 2 cm long, plump fruits with a somewhat pointy end, quite similar in shape with lemons. They look a lot like miniature, green lemons, but with a shiny skin. Unripe fruit are light green and have a hard pulp, while ripe ones are softer, with a yellowish hue and often tinged with yellow, orange or red on the side most exposed to sunlight. The fruit also have a light fuzz on them, similar to plums. Billy goat plums start to ripen beginning with March-May. Each fruit contains one large seed. After it ripens, the fruit falls off the tree. The majority of billy goat plums are taken from trees growing in the wild in the Western and Northern regions of the Australian continent.
What do billy goat plums (or Kakadu plums) taste like? Unripe billy goat plums are quite sour, which is normal considering their incredibly high vitamin C content. Ripe ones have quite a pleasant, sweet taste. The taste of billy goat plums could be described as a combination of cooked apples and pears or cooked citrus fruits with a pleasant, yet delicate floral aroma.
Top 5 nutrition facts and health benefits of billy goat plum (Kakadu plum):
1) Highest vitamin C content in the plant world. According to researchers, billy goat plums have the highest vitamin C content in the known plant world. More exactly, 100 g of billy goat plums provides 1240 mg (or 1.24 g) of vitamin C, an amount surpassing even that of the most famous food supplement brands. There are claims of the fruits containing twice as much vitamin C as claimed by official sources. As you may already know, vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants known to man at this point and studies have shown that a generous daily intake of the vitamin constitutes the best protection against chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, neurological degenerative diseases).
2) Heart-protective properties. As a result of their incredibly high vitamin C content, billy goat plums are very heart friendly. Vitamin C not only helps clean blood vessels of bad cholesterol, but also contributes to maintaining their elasticity by stimulating the production of collagen, a protein responsible for blood vessel integrity. Other health benefits of vitamin C include healthy teeth and gums, good immunity, wrinkle-free skin, increased iron absorption capacity as well as allergy management (see Benefits of Vitamin C).
3) Extremely potent anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Billy goat plums were shown to contain high amounts of vitamin C, gallic acid, ellagic acid, chlorophyl a, chlorophyll b, kaempferol, quercetin and many other natural compounds with extremely potent anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties (The chemotherapeutic potential of Terminalia ferdinandiana: Phytochemistry and bioactivity by Ian E. Cock and S. Mohanty).
All of the above-mentioned antioxidants and many more found in billy goat plums protect against free radical damage to cells and DNA, reduce oxidative stress, restore the antioxidant functions of compounds such as vitamin E and efficiently reduce inflammation, thus preventing damage leading to cancer and other forms of chronic disease. According to the Nutrition and Cancer Journal, the antioxidant polyphenols in billy goat plums exercise an amazing inhibitory action on cancer cells and are highly efficient at inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.
There are still many more studies to be performed on the Terminalia ferdinandiana species and numerous compounds have yet to be identified. Studies conducted up to this point are highly promising and encourage further research on the subject.
4) Chemotherapeutic potential. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology (The chemotherapeutic potential of Terminalia ferdinandiana), billy goat plums possess great chemotherapeutic properties. More exactly, the fruit contain several powerful anticancer agents such as ellagic acid and gallic acid and, as a result, may be easily turned into an efficient cancer treatment or used as cancer prevention. However, research assessing the bioactivity of billy goat plums is needed to confirm the species’ chemotherapeutic potential.
5) Powerful antimicrobial and antifungal activity. Research on the properties and health benefits of billy goat plums validates traditional medical practices recommending the fruits as powerful antimicrobial and antifungal agents. Aboriginal Australians used preparations from Terminalia ferdinandiana to treat skin problems, infections, wounds or sores and, more recently, research has confirmed that the species indeed possesses strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
For example, laboratory studies (Evaluation of the antibacterial activity and toxicity of Terminalia ferdinandia fruit extracts, published in Pharmacognosy Journal) have revealed that billy goat plum extracts efficiently inhibited the growth of 11 out of 14 tested bacteria with a success rate of 79%. The fruit was highly efficient against Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus (causing boils, abscesses, sinusitis and food poisoning), Staphylococcus epidermidis and Streptococcus pyogenes (causing impetigo).
Very important: the fruits from trees growing in the wild have been shown to have a much higher vitamin C and antioxidant content than those coming from cultivated trees. The reason behind this is that trees in the wild face extremely harsh conditions which are believed to trigger special protection mechanisms which force them to produce high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants and other nutrients for defense and survival purposes.