- Kakadu plums are an Australian fruit that contain the highest known vitamin C concentration and more antioxidants than a blueberry. It’s primarily found in supplements and skin care products.
- Because of their high antioxidant and vitamin C content, kakadu plums’ have a number of health benefits, including, the potential to fight cancer and other inflammatory disease.
- Kakadu plum oil is also a potent skin care ingredient that can be used to brighten skin and reverse signs of aging.
Every few years a new superfood emerges, promising health benefits beyond your wildest dreams. It usually comes from somewhere far away and often bears some hard-to-pronounce name (think: acai berries). Right now, kakadu plums are having a moment. In fact, with the highest levels of vitamin C of any fruit — in the entire world — and more antioxidants than the oft lauded blueberry, kakadu plums are the stuff superfood lore is made of. So what are kakadu plums, and what can they do for you?
What are kakadu plums?
Kakadu plums are a small light green fruit native to Australia, that’s also called the billygoat plum, bush plum, or salty plum. Indigenous people once used the sap and pits of kakadu plums to treat colds, the flu, and skin conditions. These days, you’re most likely to see this Aussie import as an ingredient in skin care products — particularly in vitamin C serums — or in powder form, which can be used in smoothies, soups, and sauces.
You can apply kakadu plum extract to your skin with abandon, but you’ll need to pause for a moment before incorporating them into your diet. Kakadu plums are high in oxalates, which is an antinutrient that can interfere with nutrient absorption and can bind with calcium ions in your blood, creating little crystals that can lead to bigger problems — especially if you’re prone to kidney stones or gout. If you are prone to these ailments, you should probably leave kakadu plums off your plate. But if you’re not, feel free to enjoy this fruit on occasion to reap their benefits. To reduce the oxalate content, try soaking them in lemon juice or adding a calcium capsule to your cooking water which helps neutralize the oxalates.
What are the nutritional & health benefits of kakadu plums?
Vitamin C: Kakadu plums derive most of their benefits from their sky-high concentration of vitamin C, which has all sorts of health benefits. “From immunity, bruise prevention, and the growth, development, and repair of tissues to enhancing iron absorption and adrenal support, vitamin C plays a dominant role in a number of bodily functions,” says Kelly Schmidt, RD, author of What’s the Deal With Paleo and Primal Eating?”
Antioxidants: Plus, kakadu plums pack an antioxidant punch. “The kakadu plum’s potent levels of antioxidants make it a strong candidate to fight cancer, heart disease, and inflammation,” Schmidt says. Antioxidants help to neutralize free-radicals that damage cells and may play a role in cancer development, so because of the kakadu plum’s incredible antioxidant concentration, scientists believe it may have the potential to help treat cancer and other autoimmune inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamins & minerals: But this isn’t where the kakadu plum’s impressive nutritional resumé ends. “The kakadu is drawing attention for not only the antioxidant levels and vitamin C, but it’s also a well-rounded, nutrient-dense fruit, containing trace amounts of lutein, vitamin E, folate, zinc, magnesium, and calcium,” Schmidt says.
How can kakadu plums benefit your skin?
In addition to potentially working wonders within our bodies internally, kakadu plums can unlock healthier, younger-looking skin when applied topically. Again, the kakadu plum’s vitamin C concentration is a key player in its benefits. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant,” says Dr. Melissa Piliang, MD, dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic. “It can help our skin manage the oxidative stress that happens as part of daily living.”
She explains that oxidative stress is what rusts metal and turns bananas brown, and it also does damage that ages skin.This can be exacerbated by UV light and pollutants. By neutralizing free radicals, vitamin C helps to protect against that damage. “Vitamin C has been shown to help and prevent and treat UV light damage,” she says. “It makes skin appear brighter and fades dark spots and discoloration.”
Vitamin C also plays an important role in how our body makes collagen, which contributes to plump, firm skin, Piliang says. “As we age, the collagen and elastic fibers become stretched and less pliable. Think of an elastic waistband. Over time it stretches, and it doesn’t go back. As it wears out, our skin loses that tight appearance, and that’s where we get wrinkles.”
In short, by applying kakadu plum to your face, you dose your skin with collagen-producing, wrinkle-preventing vitamin C. To boot, kakadu plums contain two beneficial, skin-boosting acids, Piliang says. Gallic acid has anti-inflammatory properties that may alleviate skin redness, and ellagic acid helps improve skin elasticity.
How to incorporate kakadu plums into your skin care routine
You’ll find kakadu plums in a variety of oil-based lotions, creams, and serums. Because kakadu-containing products tend to be moisturizing, use kakadu plum morning and night after you cleanse your face, Piliang says. However, vitamin C can be irritating for some people, so if you have sensitive skin, use it just once a day to start.
Here are a few kakadu plum clean beauty products to add to your arsenal:
Herbivore Prism, $62
This multi-tasking serum gently exfoliates skin with lactic acid and brightens it with kakadu plum extract.
This serum harnesses the power of plants. Specifically skin-brightening kakadu plums and apple extract, resveratrol-rich knotweed, and nutrient-dense madonna lily plant cells that help prevent and decrease dark spots.
Hailing from the same continent as kakadu plums themselves, this Aussie oil-free moisturizing serum packs a mega vitamin C punch to brighten and firm skin.
Kakadu plum is high on this moisturizer’s ingredient list, but it contains other skin care heavy-hitters too. Rawceuticals’ proprietary cold-pressed botanical-based polymer helps shield skin from pollution, while black cumin seed oil smooths skin and hemp seed oil helps protects against free-radical damage.