World’s Healthiest Foods: Benefits of Eating Plums, Fascinating Facts
There are few fruits that come in such a panorama of colors as the juicy sweet tasting plum. The plum season extends from May through October with the Japanese varieties first on the market from May and peaking in August followed by the European varieties in the fall.
Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered “drupes,” fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds.
Prunes are the dried version of European plums. In the United States, through, you may not see the term “prunes” used as frequently as before, as this fruit items recently had its name officially changed to “dried plum.” Sweet with a deep taste and a sticky chewy texture, prunes are not only fun to eat but they are also highly nutritious. As with other dried fruits, they are available year round.
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Plums and Prunes provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Plums and Prunes can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Plums and Prunes, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
Protect your heart
One medium-sized fresh plum contains 113 mg of potassium, a mineral that helps manage high blood pressure and reduce stroke risk. If that isn’t heartwarming enough, the reddish-blue pigment in some plums, called anthocyanins, may protect against cancer by mopping up harmful free radicals.
Keep your bowels regular
Dried plums-a.k.a. prunes-are a tried-and-true way to help your bowel do its work (each prune has one gram of fibre). Eat them as is, or make a batch of softened prunes to keep in the fridge to have with granola and yogurt: Soak a few handfuls of prunes in freshly boiled water, cool and store in a covered jar in the fridge.
Lower blood sugar
According to the Dietitians of Canada, plums rank low on the glycemic index, which means eating them can help you control your blood sugar and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Plums exert anti-hyperglycemic effects and help in combating diabetes. A study published in the journal Biomedical Research in 2005 has shown that consumption of plum extracts aids in reducing blood sugar and triglyceride levels in the body. The flavonoids present in plums exert protective effects against insulin resistance and help to enhance insulin sensitivity in the body.
Boost bone health
Researchers from Florida State and Oklahoma State universities tested two groups of postmenopausal women over the span of 12 months for bone density. One group ate 100 grams of prunes per day (about 10 prunes); the other ate 100 grams of dried apples. Both groups took calcium and vitamin D supplements.
The findings indicated that the prune group had substantially higher bone mineral density in the spine and forearms.
Improve your memory
Did you know that eating three to four antioxidant-rich prunes a day can help neutralize cell-damaging free radicals that affect your memory? Now that’s sharp snacking!
Great for Relieving Constipation and Digestive Problems
One of the benefits of plums is that they are filled with dietary fiber and when they are dried and become a prune they are well known to help with constipation.
In a study with 51 adults suffering from constipation found that those that consumed prunes had constipation relief.
Plum extracts are valuable for reducing obesity and other complications associated with obesity. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Obesity & Therapeutics has shown that consumption of stone fruits such as plums helps in fighting metabolic syndrome, due to the presence of bioactive compounds. The flavonoids and phenolic components such as anthocyanins, chlorogenic acids, quercetin, and catechins present in them exert anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effects on the cells, including the fat cells. Moreover, they also help in preventing obesity-related problems such as cholesterol disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Plums Destroy Breast Cancer Cells.
Plum extracts can kill breast cancer cells in their most aggressive forms; the surrounding healthy cells were not harmed by the treatment. (ScienceDaily.com).
Maintain Healthy Nervous System
Plums contain vitamin B6, which helps in the transmission of nerve signals and aids in the smooth functioning of the nervous system. They also help in the normal growth of the brain and assist in the formation of mood influencing hormones. Tryptophan, an amino acid present in them, helps in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays an important role in improving sleep, appetite, and concentration.
Regulate Cholesterol Levels
Dried plums or prunes help in preventing hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipidemia. A comparative study by the researchers at the Department of Nutrition, University of California, USA, has proven the efficacy of prunes over grape-juice in maintaining healthy levels of plasma and liver cholesterol. The fiber content present in them also adds to the protective effect of the heart by reducing LDL or bad cholesterol and helping to elevate the levels of HDL or good cholesterol.
Useful in Pregnancy
Plum products are beneficial during pregnancy, due to the abundance of numerous vitamins and minerals. These beneficial components are vital for eye-sight, development of bones and tissues, and cellular health for the mother and the growing baby. The fiber content aids in preventing constipation and improves digestion. The inclusion of plums as a part of a balanced diet helps in fighting various infections and maintains overall health.
The National Health Service, England, recommends pregnant women to eat five to seven servings of various fresh fruits every day. You may take plums as one of the servings; two plums make one serving. You can have a fresh or dried form of the fruit or a glass of fresh plum juice.
Besides satiating your cravings, the nutrients in plums can offer you plenty of health benefits. However, one should be careful regarding the choice of commercially available plum juices as they might contain high amounts of sugar.
- Plums only have 46 calories per 100 g, contain no saturated fats and are full of minerals and vitamins.
- Plums and prunes help increase the absorption of iron into the body, which may be due to the fact that they are a good source of vitamin C. This has been documented in published research.
- There are more than 80 nutrients found in plums.
- Plums are the second most cultivated fruit in the world.
- More than one hundred varieties of plum stones were found on Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545.
- In Japan, February is the month for plums; there are plum blossoms everywhere.
- Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums) were thought by the samurai to combat fatigue.
- Plum trees are grown on every continent except Antarctica.
- The Chinese believe plums symbolize good fortune.
- There are more than 140 varieties of plum sold in the United States.
- At least 2,300 people in the U.S. are listed on whitepages.com with the last name “Plum.”
- Plums can be as large as a baseball or a small as a cherry.
- Plums were on the menu at the first Thanksgiving dinner in 1621.
History of Plums
- Plums have been written about as early as 479 B.C.
- The plum tree was significant in Chinese mythology. It was often carved on jade and was associated with wisdom.
- Japanese plums originated in China. Japanese plums were introduced to the U.S. in the late 19th century.
- It is thought that plums were one of the first fruits domesticated by humans.
- Pompey the Great in 65 B.C. introduced plums to Rome, and Alexander the Great eventually brought them to the Mediterranean.