Health Benefits of Plums
Health benefits of plums include relief from indigestion, influenza infectivity and anxiety-related problems. The antioxidant power of plums helps in treating ailments such as osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cancer, diabetes and obesity. It helps in maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol, cardiovascular health, cognitive health, immune system, cellular health, electrolyte balance, nervous system and aids in skin care and blood clotting.
Plum is a juicy and delicious fruit belonging to the genus Prunus of Rosaceae family which also entails peach, apricots and nectarines. It exists in diverse colors and shapes with over 2000 different varieties. Plums are broadly divided into following three groups: European-Asian (Prunus domestica), Japanese (Prunus salicina) and Damson (Prunus insititia).
China is the leading harvester of plums followed by the United States, Serbia, and Romania. Within the US, major production of plums happens in California.
Along with the hand-picked fresh variety, plums can also be dried or canned which are referred to as prunes.
Plums are small deciduous trees which grow to a height of about 10-15 m and bears fruit with different characteristics basis the country of origin.
Plum is a drupe or stone fruit with a smooth pit and a crease running down on one side. It has a juicy pulp varying from creamy yellow to crimson red. The color of outer skin may vary considerably from yellow to dark red to purple to black.
Plums: Nutritional facts
Plums contain an assortment of healthful components, vitamins and minerals. Plums are an excellent provider of vitamins such as vitamin A, C(ascorbic acid), folate and vitamin K(phylloquinone).They are also a good source of vitamin B1(thiamine), B2(riboflavin), B3(niacin), B-6 and vitamin E(alpha-tocopherol). Mineral treasure present in plums includes potassium, fluoride, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc. Plums also supplies dietary fiber and offer very low calories and no harmful fats.
Health benefits of plums
Plums are packed with an immense range of phenols and flavonoids which offers a range of health benefits.
Antioxidants: Plums contains vitamin C and phytonutrients such as lutein, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin, neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These components possess effective antioxidant qualities which help in preventing the damage caused by oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical. The phenols present in plums also extend their protective effect on the essential fats in the neurons and cell membranes against the injuries caused by oxidative stress.
Obesity: Plum extracts are valuable in treating obesity and other complications associated with obesity. Studies have shown that consumption of stone fruits such as plum help in fighting metabolic syndrome attributing to the presence of bioactive compounds. The flavonoids and phenolic components such as anthocyanins, chlorogenic acids, quercetin and catechin present in plums exert anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effect on the different body cells including the fat cells and also help in preventing obesity-related problems such as cholesterol disorder, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Osteoporosis: Consumption of dried plums exerts anabolic and anti-resorptive actions which aids in maintaining healthy bones. Flavonoids such as caffeic acid and rutin present in plums help in inhibiting the deterioration of bone tissues and prevent diseases such as osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Polyphenols along with the potassium content present in dried plums encourage formation of bones, enhances bone density and prevents bone loss caused by ovarian hormone deficiency. Research has demonstrated that regular consumption of dried plums help in the restoration of bones that have already been lost due to aging.
Digestion: Plums are a good source of dietary fiber along with the components sorbitol and isatin which helps in regulating the digestive system. According to the research studies, dried plums or prunes are more effective in treating digestive disorders such as constipation as compared to other remedies such as psyllium husk. Sorbitol and isatin have a laxative effect and encourages secretion of fluids in the bowel and promotes efficient flushing of wastes through the colon.
Cognitive health: Studies have shown that flavonoids present in plum juice are effective in providing protection against age-related cognitive impairment. The healthful phytonutrients present in plums help in reducing the inflammation in the neurological processes and improve learning and memory functions. Regular consumption of plums also helps in preventing age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Healthy cholesterol levels: Dried plums or prunes helps in preventing hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipidemia. A comparative study has proven the efficacy of prunes over grape-juice in maintaining healthy levels of plasma and liver cholesterol. The fiber content present in plums also adds to the protective effect in the reduction of LDL cholesterol and helps in elevating the levels of HDL cholesterol.
Diabetes: Plums exert anti-hyperglycemic effects and helps in combating diabetes. Studies have shown that consumption of plum extracts aids in reduction of blood glucose and levels of triglyceride in the body. The flavonoids present in plums exert protective effect against insulin resistance and helps in enhancing insulin sensitivity in the body.
Nervous System: Plums contains vitamin B-6 which helps in the transmission of nerve signals and aids in smooth functioning of nervous system. Plums also help in normal growth of brain and assists in the formation of mood influencing hormones. Tryptophan, an amino acid present in plums helps in the production of neurotransmitter serotonin which plays an important role in the sleep, appetite and concentration.
Cardiovascular health: Consumption of plums helps in maintaining cardiovascular health. . Research has provided supportive evidence regarding the fact that regular intake of dried plums helps in promoting fluidity of blood in the arteries. This protective effect aids in the prevention of various cardiac disorders such as development of atherosclerosis and help maintain a healthy heart.
Immune system: Plums are beneficial in strengthening the immune defense of the body attributing to the presence of high vitamin C content. It promotes body’s resistance against various infections and inflammations. Research has shown that oriental plum has immunostimulatory constituents that encourages the production of nitric oxide in the body, impedes the feasibility of tumor cells and are valuable in preventing various diseases.
Cellular health: Plums contains essential iron and copper which assists in the formation of red blood cells and facilitates blood purification and healthy circulation. Copper in plums acts as an antioxidant and is essential for nerve health and aids in the formation of collagen. Consumption of copper-rich plums also helps in absorption of iron and prevents various diseases such as anemia and osteoarthritis.
Anxiety: Regular consumption of plums help in reducing anxiety. Studies have provided supportive evidence regarding the anxiolytic effects and antioxidant properties of chlorogenic acids present in plums which helps in curing anxiety-related behaviors and damage caused by oxidative stress.
Influenza: Japanese plum is effective against the infection caused by influenza A virus. Studies have shown that concentrated juice of Japanese plum contain lectin-like molecules which helps in inhibiting and treating the infectivity caused by human influenza A virus.
Pregnancy: Plum and plum products are beneficial during pregnancy attributing to the abundance of multiple vitamins and minerals. These healthful components are vital for the eye-sight, development of bones and tissues and cellular health for the mother and the growing baby. The fiber content aids in preventing constipation and improves digestion. Inclusion of plums as a part of balanced diet helps in fighting various infections and maintains overall health. One should be watchful regarding the choice of commercially available plum juices as they might contain high amounts of sugar.
Cancer: Plum extract has been proven beneficial in the treatment of cancer. Studies have shown that component epicatechin present in plums help in inhibiting the growth and proliferation of malignant cancer cells and induce apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma or liver cancer. Plums are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients such as chlorogenic acid and neo-chlorogenic acid which have a curative effect against breast cancer cells without harming the normal healthy cells of the body.
Electrolyte balance: Plums contain abundant quantities of potassium which is an electrolyte and is required for the efficient functioning of cells and tissues of the body. Consuming potassium-rich plums help in muscle contraction and regulate the acid-base balance of the body.
Skin care: Plums are rich in vitamin C along with other antioxidants which helps in maintaining healthy, radiant and youthful skin. Consumption of plums helps in reducing dark spots and wrinkles attributing to the presence of anti-aging nutrients. Plums extracts are used in various skin care products such as face wash and packs.
Macular degeneration: Plums contains vitamin A and beta-carotene which are beneficial in maintaining healthy eye sight and prevents age-related macular degeneration. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin present in plums reside in the macular tissues of retina and provides protection against the damage caused by UV radiations.
Blood clotting: Plums and prunes contain vitamin K which helps in normal clotting of blood and promotes bone health. Deficiency of vitamin K in the body can result in excessive blood loss and other health concerns such as weak bones.
Culinary usage: Plums are widely used in food items attributing to their sweet and tart flavor with a pleasant aroma. They can be relished fresh and can also be added to puddings, jams and jellies. Plum juice is used in the preparation of alcoholic beverages. Prune juice concentrate works deliciously well as a filling for candies and confectionary products and as a binding agent for cereal bars. Plum chutney or dip is famous in Indian cuisine and is served along with stuffed Indian bread. It is also relished as a condiment along with the meat delicacies.
Other uses of plum products
Plum Blossoms: Plum blossoms have been historically used in the treatment of loose teeth, mouth ulcers and sore gums. It is an effective ingredient in the manufacturing of mouthwashes and helps in curing bad breath and soothing sore throat.
How to select and store a plum?
Select plums with slight whitish bloom which indicates no over-handling. Avoid the soft ones with bruises. Ripe and ready to eat plums yield to slight pressure and have a sweet aroma. They can be stored in the refrigerator. Slightly firm plums can be kept in a paper bag at room temperature till they ripen. Prunes can be kept at room temperature for a few days.
Plums: Word of caution
Plum and plum products offer a variety of health benefits barring a few exceptions which should be considered and taken care of while consuming plums.
Oxalates: Plums contains oxalates which can get accumulated and crystallize resulting in health concerns such as kidney or gall bladder complications. People who are already suffering from such conditions should avoid the usage of plums.
Sulfites: Dried plums or prunes are treated with sulfites to prevent them from oxidation of phenols in the prunes which can darken the fruit and turn it brown. People who have sensitivity towards sulfites should be watchful regarding their intake of prunes as they might trigger allergic reactions including severe anaphylactic attacks.
Carcinoid tumor: Carcinoid tumor elevates the levels of serotonin in the blood. Plums contains substantial amount of serotonin. Consumption of plums before the diagnostic test for carcinoid tumors may result in false-positive result.
Plums are also effective in curing irregular menstruation and helps in detoxifying the stomach. Plums contain calcium which is valuable in maintaining dental health. According to Ayurveda, plum possess cooling properties which helps in pacifying excess heat in the body.
Bestow plum advantage to your health with plums!!!