The health benefits of plums are pretty peachy when you think about. Good thing these stone fruits are available early summer to fall. I originally wrote this story about the health benefits of plums for Lifetime Daily.
Little Jack Horner made them famous. Plums don’t belong in any corner, particularly given their health benefits. They need to be front and centre in the diets of healthy older adults. This stone fruit, which comes in yellow, green, red, purple and blue, round or oval, is a vessel of all kinds of vitamins and minerals. Loaded with immunity-boosting vitamin C and plenty of B vitamins, plums are believed to be one of the first fruits cultivated by humans. Good thing, considering all of the other health benefits they offer.
Plum Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
1. Dried plums keep things moving.
Put that psyllium down (a popular natural fibre remedy for treating constipation) and reach for a plum instead. In fact, reach for a dried version — a prune. Research shows that dried plums are more effective than psyllium at treating mild to moderate constipation.
2. Plums are a low-calorie, low-carb fruit.
A cup of sliced raw plums contains 11 carbs, 1 gram of fiber and about 75 calories. A cup of prunes on the other hand contain 63 carbs, 7 grams of fiber and about 240 calories.
3. Plums are high in potassium.
An average-sized plum, about 1-3 inches in diameter, can pack as much as 100 milligrams or more of potassium, which is critical in keeping sodium levels, and therefore, blood pressure in check. Potassium also aids kidney function and ensures other organs work normally.
4. Plums are free-radicals fighters.
Plums are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, with a small plum containing about 10% of your daily recommended intake. Plums are also loaded with phenolics, a type of antioxidant that can prevent inflammation on neurological processes. Antioxidants are chemicals that scavenge free radicals. Free radicals create oxidative stress, which can damage DNA and cause inflammation — two mechanisms that lead to aging and chronic diseases.
5. Plums fight obesity and related diabetes.
Plums contain compounds that have the potential to fight obesity and related diabetes. One study found the phenolics in plums and other stone fruit, such as nectarines, had anti-diabetic and anti-obesity properties. Another study found plums decreased blood glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity in cases where insulin resistance was an issue.
6. Dried plums promote strong bones.
Osteoporosis and bone loss are a real concern for older adults but eating prunes can help prevent brittle bones. Laboratory research shows that a diet that includes dried plums can actually increase bone volume and restore bone already lost to aging.
7. Dried plums are a source of B vitamins.
A 1/2 cup of prunes contains almost 10% of your daily needs for B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin B6. These B vitamins are important in supporting your body’s energy production.
8. Dried plums are loaded with vitamin K.
A 1/2 cup of prunes contains 65% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. Vitamin K is critical to maintaining bone health alongside calcium and vitamin D. Clinical studies show that adequate amounts of vitamin K can prevent new bone fractures, particularly in those with osteoporosis.
How to Add Plums to Your Diet
The variety of colours and shapes is enough to keep us snacking on fresh plums without ever getting bored. They’re also brilliant in baking, making the perfect addition to summertime cobblers, and adding a sweet-tart punch to cakes, pies and tarts.
Plums are a time-pressed cook’s best friend, too. Plums break down quickly when cooked. Add some honey and cinnamon and you’ve got a vibrant compote to top yogurt, drizzle on sweet quick breads or swirl into your smoothie bowl. Grill them and wrap them in prosciutto for a savory snack or make them the crowning touch on a green salad.