The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Plums into Your Diet

Plums are delicious, juicy fruits that belong to the Rosaceae family of the genus Prunus. In the science world, they are known as Prunus Domestica and categorized as drupes. Drupes are fleshy fruits that have a single hard seed in a smooth pit. Other fruits in the genus Prunus are almonds, peaches, apricot, and nectarine. Plums are also referred to as prunes, but only when they are dried. 

In terms of size and shape, plums are typically 1-3 inches in diameter and round or oval-shaped. They are grown all over the world in several cultivars, the most popular types being the red Japanese plums. Red plums have a sweet-tart flavor and a pleasant aroma. Prune juice is often fermented to make prune wine. This article looks at the health benefits of eating plums and prunes.

Health and Nutritional Benefits of Plums

Plums are nutrient-rich fruits that contain various health-promoting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are low in calories and contain no saturated fats. These juicy fruits are also rich in dietary fiber. Prunes contain more calories and fiber than fresh plums. Plums provide a good amount of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant with several health benefits. 

Also, plums are modest sources of Vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A. Vitamin B-6 helps the body break down fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Vitamin K is a key nutrient in bone metabolism and reduces neuronal damage in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin K also helps to make some of the proteins needed for blood clotting, which aids healing of wounds.

A 100 grams serving cup of freshly sliced plum contains these nutrients:

  • Calories - 46
  • Fat - 0.3 grams
  • Potassium - 157 mg (4% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrate - 11 g (3% DV)
  • Protein - 0.7 g (1% DV)
  • vitamin K- 52 mcg (65% DV)
  • vitamin A - 679 IU (14% DV)
  • Riboflavin - 0.16 mg (9%)
  • Vitamin B-6 - 0.18 mg

Plums also contain:

  • iron 
  • potassium 
  • copper 
  • manganese 
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus 

Rich in Health-Promoting Antioxidants

The fleshy part of plums contains a significant amount of powerful antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, and lutein. These antioxidants reduce inflammation and protect cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are often the cause of fast aging and various chronic diseases. Zeaxanthin is a dietary carotenoid that is specifically absorbed into the macula lutea of the retina, where it provides antioxidant and UV light-filtering effects. Also, purple and red plums come with a special antioxidant known as anthocyanin, which studies suggest may be beneficial to heart health and help manage type 2 diabetes.

Good for Cardiovascular Health

Plums are rich in heart-benefiting minerals such as iron, potassium, and fluoride. Iron is an important mineral in the formation of red blood cells. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate, thus maintaining a healthy heart. Also, flavonoids and phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins, chlorogenic acids, quercetin, and catechins present in plums have anti-inflammatory effects on the different cells of the body. Anti-inflammatory foods can help you avoid health problems including diabetes, excessive cholesterol, and heart disease. 

Plum also contains Vitamin K. Vitamin K, also known as calcium is good for the heart as it promotes arterial flexibility by preventing the accumulation of calcium in the arteries. When calcium accumulates in the arteries, it can lead to heart attacks.

Promotes Good Eyesight

Fresh plums, especially sunshine yellow plums are good for eyesight. They contain β -carotene and Vitamin A . Vitamin A is an important antioxidant for eyesight because it keeps the cornea (outer part of the eye) clear. This vitamin is also present in rhodopsin, a protein found in your eyes that allows you to see in dim light. Vitamin A may also help lower the risk of eye conditions such as cataracts.

Improves Bone Health

The potassium, magnesium, and polyphenols in plums help increase bone density and prevent bone loss, breakage, or fracture. The same benefit is provided by Vitamin C and K. All these nutrients combined are beneficial to people with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is often caused by sulfur acids that weaken and demineralize the bones. If you’re looking to reap the bone-building benefits, go for dried plums as they contain more of the compounds mentioned compared to fresh plums. 

Supports Cognitive Health

The antioxidants in plums also benefit the brain. These plant compounds help reduce inflammation in the neurological areas and promote learning and retentive memory. Antioxidants in plums also prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of developing age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Dried plums contain soluble fiber that helps lower LDL cholesterol and prevents hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipidemia. Prunes help to decrease cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and eliminating them from the body. Bile acids are fat-digesting compounds made by the liver from cholesterol. When they are expelled from the body through the feces, the liver is forced to produce additional bile acids, which consume more cholesterol and lower circulating cholesterol.

Aids the Digestive System

The bioactive compounds in prunes and their metabolites function as antibacterial agents in the gastrointestinal and urinary systems. Prunes are particularly beneficial for digestive issues such as constipation. Fresh plums contain soluble fiber that dissolves into a sticky mass and traps and removes bacteria, toxins, sugars, and fat in the digestive system. Dietary fiber in plums also helps break down carbohydrates and clean the lining of the digestive tract. 

The Bottom Line

Plums provide many health benefits because they contain several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plums help to improve cardiovascular health, promote brain health, enhance vision, fight free radicals, lower cholesterol, and strengthen the bones. Plums can be eaten fresh, juiced, or made into jam to be spread on toast. Bear in mind that only the plum flesh can be eaten. The seeds of stone fruit contain amygdalin, a chemical that the body converts into the toxin cyanide. If crushed or chewed, the stone and the seed are poisonous and can cause severe side effects.