Last Updated on November 27, 2020
Plums are fruits that belong in the Prunus genus, the same genus that comprises cherries, bird cherries, peaches, etc. They are distinguishable from other members of the Prunus genus by their shoots that contain terminal buds as well as solitary side buds.
Plum flowers tend to grow in clusters of one to five on relatively short stems while their fruits usually have a smooth pit and a groove that extends down one side.
When mature, plums come in all shapes and sizes. Some may be covered in a dusty-white waxy coating, giving them a glaucous look, whereas others may have colors ranging from green to red, yellow, etc.
The taste of plums is as diverse as their colors. While some are sweet, others can be tart. The variance in taste depends on the individual species and the stage of maturation.
Plums’ Nutritional Profile
Plums come with different nutritional profiles depending on whether they’re fresh or dried. Dried plums, also known as prunes, tend to contain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts.
The following are some of the nutrients in one fresh plum:
• 30 calories
• 1 gram of fiber
• 7 grams of sugar
• 8 grams of carbs
• 5% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of Vitamin A
• 10% of the RDI of Vitamin C
• 5% of the RDI of Vitamin K
• 2% of the RDI of copper
• 2% of the RDI of manganese
• 3% of the RDI of potassium
In addition to the above nutrients, the same quantity of plums comes with significant amounts of other essential minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and some B vitamins.
On the other hand, one cup of dried plums has the following nutritional profile:
• 67 calories
• 3 grams of fiber
• 11 grams of sugar
• 18 grams of carbs
• 4% of the RDI of Vitamin A
• 3% of the RDI of Vitamin B2
• 3% of the RDI of Vitamin B3
• 3% of the RDI of Vitamin B6
• 21% of the RDI of Vitamin K
• 2% of the RDI of phosphorus
• 3% of the RDI of magnesium
• 4% of the RDI of copper
• 4% of the RDI of manganese
• 6% of the RDI of potassium
Health Benefits of Plums
1. Relieving Constipation
Plums are relatively high in dietary fiber, with one fresh plum boasting 1 gram of fiber. The fiber content in plums is mostly insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t blend with water. Instead, most of it passes through the stomach undigested. As such, it adds bulk to your stool, increasing the frequency with which you empty your bowels.
Prunes also contain sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that’s best known for its laxative effects. Insoluble fiber and sorbitol work synergistically to enhance your bowel movement, thereby relieving constipation and other digestive issues. In one study investigating the benefits of prunes in aiding digestion, it emerged that eating prunes might relieve constipation far better than popular types of laxatives like psyllium.
But fiber doesn’t just treat constipation. It also plays a role in nourishing your gut-friendly bacteria. Therefore, it may reduce the risks of chronic digestive diseases.
2. Regulating Blood Sugar Levels
As you may have realized from its nutritional profile, plums contain a considerable amount of carbs. Ordinarily, that should come as bad news.
However, the carbs in plums don’t have a substantial impact on your blood sugar level. When consumed, plums can raise the levels of the hormone adiponectin, which plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar.
Also, the high fiber content in plums may have positive effects on your body’s overall blood sugar levels. That’s because fiber can slow down the rate of absorption of carbs, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar level, as opposed a spike in the same.
3. Improving Your Heart Health
Plums have also been shown to help reduce the two major risk factors for heart disease – high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. That’s primarily due to their abundance in minerals like fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
One study attempted to examine the benefits of plums for the heart. Participants were split into two groups. One group consumed prunes and drank prune juice every morning consistently for eight weeks, whereas the other group only drank water for the same period.
At the end of the study, it emerged that the group which consumed prunes exhibited a significant reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
4. Improving Your Bone Health
Bone-related conditions have always been deemed to be a preserve of the old or sickly. However, these diseases can affect people of any age and health condition.
Thankfully, incorporating plums into your diet can go a long way in preventing bone fractures as well as keeping bone-related conditions at bay. Prunes have been shown to be effective against some of the most debilitating bone and joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. Their positive effects on bone health emanate from their anti-inflammatory properties.
One of the best things about plums is that they not only prevent bone wastage. The fruits can also reverse bone loss even after it has occurred.
5. Boosting Your Immunity
Like most fruits, plums are loaded with antioxidants which help to reduce the damage to body cells resulting from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress refers to a situation where the number of free radicals in the body is higher than that of antioxidants, increasing your susceptibility to chronic diseases.
Some of the antioxidants in plums, such as polyphenols, are highly effective against degenerative bone diseases, heart disease, and diabetes.
Polyphenols also have immense anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them effective against conditions like cancer and lung disease.
6. Improving Your Eye Health
Plums are abundant in vitamin C and beta-carotene, two of the most important nutrients for a healthy eye. They also contain other beneficial compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin.
Consuming fruits that are loaded with these compounds regularly can help to improve your vision by preventing night blindness. Even better, these compounds could also slow down age-related macular degeneration, as well as cataracts.
Lutein and zeaxanthin come with a bonus – cushioning your eyes from potential damage by ultraviolet rays.
7. Supporting Cognitive Function
We’ve already examined the ability of plums to lower cholesterol levels. Low cholesterol levels in the brain are associated with improved cognitive health and a reduction in the risk of age-related neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to reducing brain cholesterol levels, studies conducted in rats indicate that plums could also attenuate age-related cognitive deficits, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Another way plums might improve your cognitive function is by relieving anxiety. The fruits contain chlorogenic acid, which accounts for their anxiolytic properties.
Plums are some of the most nutritious fruits out there. They are loaded with antioxidants, dietary fiber, and plenty of other beneficial compounds. What’s more – these fruits are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. You can snack on them on their own (either fresh or dried) or consume them in salads and smoothies.