What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Plums?

Most people know that eating fruit and drinking fruit juice is an important part of maintaining overall health, yet a surprisingly small segment of the population consumes as much as they ideally should. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 12% of Americans meet the recommended daily intake of fruit. One of the healthiest options available that many people forget about is the plum. These sweet and succulent fruits are delicious and contain many important nutrients, but they also contain a lot of other useful compounds that make them especially healthy.

Overview of Plums 

Plums are the fruit of a genus of trees and shrubs called Prunus that also includes other stone fruits like cherries, nectarines, apricots, and peaches. Plums are one of the earliest known fruits cultivated by humans, and they come in a wide variety of colors with a range of flavor profiles. In the United States, one of the more common cultivars is Prunus americana, a small tree that is able to survive harsh winters; the fruit itself can vary in color from a shiny, bright red to a deep yellow.

Plums are and have been a popular fruit all over the world for centuries, and they are currently produced in many different countries. Today, Japanese and Chinese plums are common across the globe, in large part because they have a longer shelf life. The European plum (Prunus domestica) is the species most often used in the production of dried plums (otherwise known as prunes), which is one of the main uses for the fruit. Apart from fresh plums sold in produce sections at grocery stores, plum juice, prune juice, and plum extract are other applications.

Plum Nutritional Facts

The plum is a naturally juicy fruit with both flesh and juice that contain a diverse assortment of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Like other stone fruits, plums are a great balance of nutrients to calories. A medium-sized plum, for instance, is only about 70 calories with 0.5 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, and trace amounts of fat. This makes plums and their juice a great part of a healthy diet. Yet plums are also rich in a number of important vitamins and minerals:

Vitamins (% Daily Value)

  • vitamin A (2%)
  • vitamin C (11%)
  • vitamin K (6%)
  • niacin (3%)
  • folate (1%)
  • thiamine (2%)

Minerals (% Daily Value)

  • calcium (1%)
  • phosphorus (2%)
  • potassium (3%)
  • manganese (2%)
  • magnesium (2%)
  • iron (1%)

Health Benefits of Plums

With the many vitamins and minerals contained in the flesh and juice, plums are rightfully seen as a good source of daily nutrition, especially when combined with other healthy fruits and vegetables. But plums also have a number of antioxidants in the form of phenolic compounds like anthocyanins, the water-soluble pigments that give plums their distinctive color. These antioxidants are crucial for human health because they protect the body from free radicals and the resulting oxidative stress; this kind of stress on the cellular level is believed to be a significant factor in the development of many diseases and disorders.

The combination of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, polyphenols, and other compounds make plums one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. Together, this collection of nutritional content is associated with a range of health benefits:

  • Heart health: Like apricots and other stone fruits, plums are a rich source of heart-healthy nutrients that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is partially due to soluble fiber content, which plays a significant role in managing cholesterol levels. Moreover, the potassium content in plums is known to improve high blood pressure and reduce vasoconstriction, a major risk factor in heart attack and stroke.
  • Blood sugar: With a relatively low glycemic index, plums are also a great addition to the diet of anyone with high blood sugar levels. Additionally, the same soluble fiber that benefits the heart also slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar after meals. This is especially important for individuals who have insulin sensitivity, insulin resistance, or even type 2 diabetes.
  • Weight loss: Among other things, high blood sugar is also one of the primary risk factors in overweight and obesity because of the impact on metabolism. But a diet that includes plums and a variety of other fruits and vegetables is one of the most direct ways to promote weight loss. Even apart from the impact on blood sugar, though, consuming foods that are high in insoluble fiber also results in feeling full faster, and that can lead to overall better food decisions.
  • Digestion: With about 1 gram of fiber in each plum, they are helpful in the larger goal of improving digestion and promoting regular bowel movements. In this case insoluble fiber is the main driver of health, because insoluble fiber creates bulk in the colon and reduces the chances of developing gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and constipation. Also, plums contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative.
  • Bone health: Several of the vitamins and minerals in plums are known to be essential for maintaining good bone health. Vitamin K, for instance, plays an important role in maintaining bone density and strength. Also, minerals like phosphorus and magnesium are key building blocks of bone formation. Collectively, the nutrients in plums can help stave off the kind of bone loss that often occurs as we age; these nutrients are also thought to help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Menopause: The fact that plums are good for bone health is also related to their benefits for postmenopausal women; because menopause is often linked to bone loss, a diet rich in many of the nutrients found in plums may improve bone density and other symptoms of menopause.
  • Brain health: The antioxidants found in plums are thought to have many benefits for health, but one crucial example is brain health. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, can potentially reduce the kind of oxidative stress and inflammation that are linked to poor cognitive function and cognitive decline. Also, there is evidence that some of the polyphenols may have neuroprotective effects.

Contact FruitSmart for Premium Fruit Ingredients

Plums are a healthy and delicious fruit that virtually anyone could benefit from incorporating into their diet. Beyond the whole fruit itself, though, it can be used in a wide variety of applications from juices and jams to baked goods and smoothies. At FruitSmart, we are proud to be a longtime provider of high quality juices, concentrates, and essences that can add the perfect flavor, texture, and nutritional value to any kind of recipe. If you’d like to learn more about our plum products or any of our other premium fruit ingredients, please contact us today.

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