Plum

What Is a Plum?

Who are you calling a drupe? The plum, that's who. A drupe is a fruit that has seeds surrounded by rock-like pits. That explains plums' other classification: stone fruit.

Plums belong to the same family as peaches, nectarines, and apricots. But plums are much more diverse than their stone-fruit cousins. They can be large or small, with red, purple, green, yellow, or orange skin, and pink, yellow, or orange flesh.

They first grew in China thousands of years ago. Then plums made their way to Japan, parts of Europe, and America. Today, more than 2,000 varieties grow all over the world.

Plums add subtle sweetness to salads and desserts, but their health benefits are the juiciest part of the package.

Plum Health Benefits

The vitamin C in plums helps your body heal, build muscle, and form blood vessels. It's great for your eyes, too.

Here are other ways that plums are good for your health:

  • Heart disease.  Phytochemicals and nutrients in plums lower the inflammation that triggers heart disease.
  • Anxiety . A plum a day may keep anxiety away. When your antioxidants are low, anxiety can be high.
  • Constipation Relief. Plums, like prunes, can also help keep things moving through your system. They have a lot of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative.
  • High blood pressure and stroke. The potassium in plums is good for blood pressure control in two ways. It helps your body get rid of sodium when you pee, and it lessens tension in the walls of your blood vessels. When your blood pressure is lower, your odds of getting a stroke go down.
  • Rich in antioxidants. These substances protect the body against the cell and tissue damage that can lead to diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and cancer.
  • Reduce blood sugar. Plums are chock full of fiber, which helps slow down a blood sugar spike after you eat carbs. They can also boost your body’s production of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
  • Bone health. Research on animals shows prunes (dried plums) may help reduce bone loss, and may even reverse it.

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Plum Nutrition

One cup of sliced plums has:

  • Calories: 76
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 18 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 16 grams

Plums are also a good source of:

Prunes, which are dried plums, have the same nutrition benefits, but they're much higher in sugar. One cup of pitted prunes has 66 grams of the sweet stuff.

One cup of prunes also has 12 grams of fiber. That's why they're a common home remedy for constipation. That fiber also gives them a low glycemic index, which means they help control your blood sugar.

Plum Preparation

You'll find plums in the grocery store and at farmers markets from May to October, though their peak season is July to August.

Look for firm plums that have a slight "give" when you squeeze them gently. If your plum ripens before you're ready to eat it, put it in the fridge.

If you need it to ripen quickly, keep your plum in a paper bag at room temperature overnight or up to 3 days.

Plums freeze well. Just remove the pit first.

Plums are great raw, roasted, poached, grilled, or sautéed. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Work plums into salads.
  • Cut them up with other stone fruits for a fresh fruit salsa.
  • Add a slice of plum to your water or tea.
  • Top your morning yogurt or granola with them.
  • Add plums to smoothies.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on August 11, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: "Food of the Week: Plum."

Mayo Clinic: "Stone Fruits: What Are They?" "A Grocery Bag of Beneficial Ingredients," "Do you know the different between a prune and a dried plum?" "Vitamin C."

Iowa Department of Public Health: "Focus on Fruit."

U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Plums, Raw," "Prunes, dried."

Produce for Better Health Foundation: "Can eating dried prunes lower blood sugar levels?"

Harvard Health Publishing: "Resolution: Eat your way to a healthy heart," "Nutritional strategies to ease anxiety."  

U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Sorbitol."

American Heart Association: "How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure."

Michigan Nutrition Network: "Michigan Harvest of the Month."

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Antioxidant capacities, phenolic compounds, carotenoids, and vitamin C contents of nectarine, peach, and plum cultivars from California.”

World Journal of Diabetes: “Functional foods-based diet as a novel dietary approach for management of type 2 diabetes and its complications: A review.”

Ageing Research Reviews: “Viewpoint: dried plum, an emerging functional food that may effectively improve bone health.”
 

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