Plums are replete with several nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants. They might be one of the first fruits domesticated by humans. The possible reason? Their incredible benefits. Plums are known to help treat constipation and diabetes and can even prevent heart disease and cancer. There are more ways plums can be beneficial for you. In this post, we will discuss their benefits in detail.
How Do Plums Work?
Plums possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and memory-boosting properties. They contain phenols, particularly anthocyanins, which are antioxidants (1).
Intake of plums is associated with improved cognition, bone health, and heart function. They also have a low glycemic index, so eating them is unlikely to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.
They are available from May through October – and in several varieties. Some of those include black plums, greengage plums, red plums, mirabelle plums, plucots, yellow plums, pluots, and umeboshi plums (staple in the Japanese cuisine).
All these varieties offer similar benefits. These benefits, as you will see, can change your life for the better.
How Can Plums Benefit You?
1. Plums Help Treat Constipation
Plums are rich in fiber and help treat constipation (2). The phenolic compounds in plums also offer laxative effects.
Prunes (the dried versions of plums) also improve stool frequency and consistency, thereby boosting gastrointestinal function (4).
Specific carotenoids and polyphenols in plums may also stimulate gastrointestinal digestion (5). However, studies stress the need for further research in this aspect.
2. Aid Diabetes Treatment
The various bioactive compounds in plums are at play here. These are sorbitol, quinic acid, chlorogenic acids, vitamin K1, copper, potassium, and boron. These nutrients work synergistically and help cut the risk of diabetes (6).
Plums also increase serum levels of adiponectin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels (7). The fiber in plums can also help – it slows down the rate at which your body absorbs carbs.
Plums can also increase insulin sensitivity – thereby aiding diabetes treatment (8). The phenolic compounds in plums can be attributed to these effects.
Snacking on dried plums can also increase satiety and reduce the risk of diabetes and other serious diseases.
3. May Help Prevent Cancer
A study found that the fiber and polyphenols in dried plums could help alter colorectal cancer risk factors (9).
In other lab tests, plum extracts managed to kill even the most aggressive forms of breast cancer cells. More interestingly, the normal healthy cells remained unaffected (10). This effect was linked to two compounds in plums – the chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acids. Though these acids are quite common in fruits, plums seem to contain them in surprisingly high levels.
4. Can Protect The Heart
Prunes (or plums) can control hypertension, thereby protecting the heart. In a study, individuals who consumed prune juice or prunes had lower blood pressure levels. These individuals also had lower levels of bad cholesterol and total cholesterol (11).
Another study found that regular intake of prunes could lower cholesterol levels. In the study, men diagnosed with high cholesterol were given 12 prunes to eat over eight weeks. Post the trial, they saw an improvement in their blood cholesterol levels (12).
Eating dried plums can also slow down the development of atherosclerosis (13).
5. Promote Bone Health
Prune intake is associated with a reduced risk of osteoporosis. Plum is considered the most effective fruit for preventing and reversing bone loss (14).
Dried plums also increase bone mass density. Some research speculates that this effect could be due to the presence of rutin (a bioactive compound) in plums (15). But more research is needed – as to why exactly plums promote bone health.
Another reason plums might be good for the bones is their vitamin K content. This nutrient helps improve calcium balance in the body, thereby boosting bone health. Dried plums have a higher vitamin K content and can be far more beneficial in this regard (16).
Dried plums can also serve as an ideal food for preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women (18).
6. Promote Cognitive Health
Studies show that the polyphenols in Oriental plums can improve cognitive function and reduce brain cholesterol levels (19). This can also mean a reduced risk of neurodegenerative disease.
In rat studies, consumption of plum juice proved to be effective in mitigating cognitive deficits related to aging (20). Similar effects were not observed with dried plum powder, though.
The chlorogenic acid in plums (and prunes) can also help reduce anxiety (21).
7. May Boost Immunity
A study done on poultry showed that plums might have immune-enhancing properties. Chickens fed with plums in their diets showed greater recovery from a parasitic disease (22).
Similar results in humans are yet to be observed, and research is ongoing.
More benefits of plums are yet to be discovered. But what we have learned until now is enough testimony to make plums a regular part of our diet.
If you aren’t convinced, take a look at the nutritional profile of plums.
What Is The Nutrition Profile Of Plums?
Source: USDA, Plums, raw
One cup of plums (165 grams) contains about 76 calories. It also contains:
- 2.3 grams of fiber
- 15.7 milligrams of vitamin C (26% of the daily value)
- 10.6 micrograms of vitamin K (13% of the DV)
- 569 IU of vitamin A (11% of the DV)
- 259 milligrams of potassium (7% of the DV)
Plums are incredibly nutritious. The simplest way to eat them is as they are. But if that sounds boring, you may want to check the next section.
Look for plums that are slightly firm and somewhat yield to pressure. Don’t go for those that are already soft or bruised.
You can even add plums to pies, ice pops, oatmeal, salads, yogurt, smoothies, and pudding. You can add dried plums (or prunes) to cakes, ice cream, salads, chicken or pork dishes, and dressings.
Sounds delicious, right? But does this mean anyone can eat plums? Probably not.
Do Plums Have Side Effects?
Though not many, plums do have side effects.
- Kidney Stones
Plums reduce urinary pH (23). This may potentially cause kidney stones. Hence, people with a history of kidney stones must avoid plums. However, we need more research on this, so consult your doctor.
- Other Potential Effects
The sorbitol in plums may cause bloating (24). The fiber they contain, if taken in excess, may also cause constipation.
Now we know why plums could be the earliest of the fruits to be domesticated. They are easy to eat, they are tasty, and they are fantastically beneficial. Just keep in mind the potential side effects, though. Don’t overdo them.
Also, tell us what you liked the best about plums! Just leave a comment in the box below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How to store plums?
You can store plums in the refrigerator. If they are not yet ripe, you can keep them in a paper bag at room temperature until they ripen.
How are plums different from prunes and peaches?
While prunes are just dried plums, peaches are different fruits. All three belong to the same genus, though.
How long do plums last?
Plums last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator if fully ripe.
How to tell if plums have gone bad?
If plums develop dark spots, become too soft, and begin to ooze – they are spoiled. Discard such plums. In some cases, plums may also develop mold and an off-putting smell – discard them.