10 Health Benefits of Plums

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of plums include relief from indigestion, influenza infections, weight loss, and anxiety-related problems. The antioxidant power of these fruits helps in preventing and managing osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. They also help in maintaining a healthy heart by reducing cholesterol levels. Additionally, plums improve cognition, boost immunity, improve cellular health, maintain electrolyte balance, keep the nervous system healthy, and aid in skincare and blood clotting.

What are Plums?

They are juicy and delicious fruits that belong to the genus Prunus of the Rosaceae family which also includes peaches, apricots, and nectarines. They exist in diverse colors and shapes with over 2000 different varieties. Plums are broadly divided into 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, the major production of plums happens in California.

They are small deciduous trees that grow to a height of about 10-15 meters and bear fruits with different characteristics based on the country of origin. They are drupes or stone fruits with a smooth pit and a crease running down on one side. They contain juicy pulp varying from creamy yellow to crimson red. The color of the outer skin may vary considerably from yellow or dark red to purple or black.

A basket with ripe plums with leaves on the blue table

Freshly ripe plums Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Plums, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]87.23
Energy [kcal]46
Energy [kJ]192
Protein [g]0.7
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.28
Ash [g]0.37
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]11.42
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.4
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]9.92
Sucrose [g]1.57
Glucose (dextrose) [g]5.07
Fructose [g]3.07
Maltose [g]0.08
Galactose [g]0.14
Calcium, Ca [mg]6
Iron, Fe [mg]0.17
Magnesium, Mg [mg]7
Phosphorus, P [mg]16
Potassium, K [mg]157
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.1
Copper, Cu [mg]0.06
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.05
Fluoride, F [µg]2
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]9.5
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.42
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.14
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.03
Folate, total [µg]5
Folate, food [µg]5
Folate, DFE [µg]5
Choline, total [mg]1.9
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]17
Carotene, beta [µg]190
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]35
Vitamin A, IU [IU]345
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]73
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.26
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.08
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.04
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.01
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]6.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
16:0 [g]0.01
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.13
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.13
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.04
18:2 [g]0.04
Phytosterols [mg]7
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.01
Isoleucine [g]0.01
Leucine [g]0.02
Lysine [g]0.02
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0
Phenylalanine [g]0.01
Tyrosine [g]0.01
Valine [g]0.02
Arginine [g]0.01
Histidine [g]0.01
Alanine [g]0.03
Aspartic acid [g]0.35
Glutamic acid [g]0.04
Glycine [g]0.01
Proline [g]0.03
Serine [g]0.02
Sources include : USDA

Nutritional Value of Plums

Plums contain an assortment of healthy components, vitamins, and minerals. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, they are an excellent source of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin 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). The minerals present in them include potassium, fluoride, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc. They also supply dietary fiber and offer very low calories without any harmful fats.

Health Benefits of Plums

They are packed with an immense range of phenols and flavonoids, which offer an impressive range of health benefits.

Antioxidant Properties

These fruits contain vitamin C and phytonutrients such as lutein, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, neochlorogenic acid, and chlorogenic acid. These components possess effective antioxidant qualities that help in preventing the damage caused by oxygen radicals called superoxide anion radicals. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, by researchers in France, concluded that the phenols present in plums also extend their protective effect on the essential fats in the neurons and cell membranes against any injuries caused by oxidative stress.

Manages Diabetes

Plums exert anti-hyperglycemic effects and help in combating diabetes. A study published in the journal Biomedical Research in 2005 has shown that consumption of plum extracts aids in reducing blood sugar and triglyceride levels in the body. The flavonoids present in plums exert protective effects against insulin resistance and help to enhance insulin sensitivity in the body.

Prevent Osteoporosis

Consumption of dried plums exerts anabolic and anti-resorptive actions, which aid in maintaining healthy bones. Polyphenols, along with the potassium content present in dried plums, encourage the formation of bones, improve bone density, and prevent bone loss caused by ovarian hormone deficiency. Dr. Bernard P Halloran conducted a research study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, which demonstrated that regular consumption of dried plums helps in the restoration of bone density that has already been lost due to aging.

Aid in Digestion

They are a good source of dietary fiber, along with the components sorbitol and isatin, which help in regulating the digestive system. According to a research study conducted by Dr. Attaluri A, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, USA, published in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics Journal, dried plums or prunes are more effective in treating digestive disorders such as constipation as compared to other remedies such as psyllium husk.

Healthy Nervous System

Plums contain vitamin B6, which helps in the transmission of nerve signals and aids in the smooth functioning of the nervous system. They also help in the normal growth of the brain and assist in the formation of mood influencing hormones. Tryptophan, an amino acid present in them, helps in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays an important role in improving sleep, appetite, and concentration.

Protect Heart Health

Researchers from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, USA, has provided supporting evidence regarding the fact that the 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, including atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

Boost Immunity

Plums are beneficial in strengthening the immune defense of the body due to the presence of high vitamin C content. This vitamin promotes the body’s resistance to infections and inflammations. Research has shown that oriental plums have immunostimulatory constituents that encourage the production of nitric oxide in the body, impede the metastasis of tumor cells, and are valuable in preventing various diseases.

Regulate Cholesterol Levels

Dried plums or prunes help in preventing hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipidemia. A comparative study by the researchers at the Department of Nutrition, University of California, USA, has proven the efficacy of prunes over grape-juice in maintaining healthy levels of plasma and liver cholesterol. The fiber content present in them also adds to the protective effect of the heart by reducing LDL or bad cholesterol and helping to elevate the levels of HDL or good cholesterol.

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Anticancer Potential

Plum extracts have been proven beneficial in the treatment of cancer. Studies conducted and published by Dr. Lavanya Reddivari, Dr. Venkata Charepalli, et al, Department of Plant Science, The Pennsylvania State University, USA, have shown that the component epicatechin, present in plums, helps in inhibiting the growth and proliferation of malignant cancer cells and induces apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma or liver cancer.

Skin Care

They are rich in vitamin C, along with other antioxidants, which help maintain healthy, radiant, and youthful skin. The consumption of plums helps in reducing dark spots and wrinkles due to the presence of anti-aging nutrients. Plum extracts are also used in various skincare products such as face wash and face packs.

Culinary Use

They are widely used in food items due to their sweet and tart flavor, as well as their pleasant aroma. They can be enjoyed 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 confectionery 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

Plum Blossoms: Plum blossoms have been historically used in the treatment of loose teeth, mouth ulcers, and sore gums. They are an effective ingredient in the manufacturing of mouthwashes and help in curing bad breath and soothing sore throats.

How to Select & Store Plums?

Select plums with a 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 until they ripen. Prunes can be kept at room temperature for a few days.

Side Effects of Plums

Oxalates: They contain oxalates that can accumulate and crystallize, resulting in health concerns such as kidney or gallbladder 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 the oxidation of phenols in the prunes which can darken the fruit and turn it brown. People who have sensitivity towards sulfites should be careful regarding their intake of prunes, as they might trigger allergic reactions, including severe anaphylactic attacks.

Carcinoid Tumor: Carcinoid tumors elevate the levels of serotonin in the blood and plums contain a substantial amount of serotonin. Consumption of plums before the diagnostic test for carcinoid tumors may result in a false-positive result.

Plums are effective in curing irregular menstruation and detoxifying the digestive system. They contain calcium, which is valuable for maintaining dental health. According to Ayurvedic medicine, plums possess cooling properties which help in pacifying excess heat in the body.

Add some plums to your diet and enjoy all the health benefits!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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