health benefits of plums

Top health benefits of plums and why eat them

Diabetics, menopausal women, people suffering from constipation, and osteoarthritis are a few of the groups of people who will enjoy the enormous health benefits of plums.

Plums, whether fresh or dried, have a lot of nutritional and medicinal value and should be considered as part of a routine diet for many people.

What are plums

Plums are a type of stone fruit or drupe with a large seed in the middle. They belong to the same category or family as apricots, nectarines, and peaches. Originally from China (dating back to over 2000 years), plums are now all over the world, especially in Japan, America, and Europe.

They come in different shapes and sizes and are very delicious. When dried, they are referred to as prunes.

They can be eaten fresh (after washing them thoroughly) and even as desserts. Plums can also be included in salads. They contain a lot of nutrients and provide many health benefits.

The largest producer of plums in the world is China, followed by Romania and Serbia.

This article will show the health benefits that plums have to offer and also give reasons as to why you should be consuming plums.

The health benefits of plums

1.       Promotes bone health

Plums are good for the bones. Several studies have shown that eating plums improve bone health. They contain boron, which is essential for promoting bone health and preserving bone density. This in turn prevents bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis.

According to recent researches, boron even though a micronutrient, is known to have a lot of health benefits and is essential to humans, animals, and even plants.

From a research work published on PubMed, it was found that boron as an element has about 10 different health benefits to humans. Here are some of the health benefits that were discovered:

  • It iss essential for the growth and maintenance of bone
  • It improves wound healing
  • It beneficially impacts the body’s use of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D
  • It boosts magnesium absorption;
  • It reduces levels of inflammatory biomarkers, such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α);
  • It raises levels of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase;
  • It protects against pesticide-induced oxidative stress and heavy-metal toxicity;
  • It improves the brains electrical activity, cognitive performance, and short-term memory for elders;
  • has demonstrated preventive and therapeutic effects in a number of cancers, such as prostate, cervical, and lung cancers, and multiple and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
  • It may help ameliorate the adverse effects of traditional chemotherapeutic agents.

A serving of prunes (100 g) fulfills the daily requirement for boron (2 to 3 mg) hence eating about 100g of plums will satisfy your daily requirement of the micronutrient boron.

Who then can enjoy these health benefits of plums

With such an important micronutrient in plums, they are considered very important fruits that should be considered as part of diet plans for people suffering from or those who are at risk of getting osteopenia, osteoporosis, or osteoarthritis.

According to another study published on Wiley’s online library, it was found that postmenopausal women who were put on boron supplementation similar to what you find in fruits like the plums resulted in the prevention of calcium loss and bone demineralization.

As such, plums can also be recommended for women after menopause.

Plums in a basket
A basketful of plums

2.       Controls blood pressure

Plums contain the mineral potassium, a food nutrient that plays a vital role in controlling blood pressure. In one study, subjects who drank prune juice and ate three or six prunes each morning for eight weeks were compared to a group that drank only a glass of water on an empty stomach.

Those who consumed the prunes and prune juice had significantly lower blood pressure levels than the group that drank water. 

According to a randomized control trial conducted by the American Heart Association, it was found that the potassium found in fruits like plums is equally effective in reducing blood pressure and is comparable to the effects that are obtained from the synthetic potassium chloride salt.

Another study carried out by the American Clinical and Climatological Association also found out that potassium in the diet is able to reduce blood pressure by attenuating the effects of high-salt diets. The conclusion was that dietary potassium deficiency increases blood pressure largely by stimulating salt reabsorption along the distal nephron.

The dried plum fruits have been found to contain more potassium than the fresh ones (about two times more). Hence, if you are taking for their blood pressure-lowering effect then you should consider taking more of the dried fruit than the fresh fruits.

Dried prunes contain about 745 mg of potassium per 100 g of fruit servings [1].

3.       Plums improve the health of the heart

Plums are rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols that fight against free radicals preventing heart-related diseases and even stroke. They have been studied for their potential to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are huge risk factors for heart disease.

Some of the specific antioxidants found in plums include Chlorogenic acids, and glycosides of cyanidin, peonidin, and quercetin.

According to studies, Chlorogenic acids are the major source of antioxidant activity in plums, and taking one serving (100 g) of plums can provide antioxidants equivalent to 144.4-889.6 mg of vitamin C.

Another study also found out the free radical scavenging effect (antioxidant property) is more prominent in fresh plums than in dried plums[2].

In one study, subjects who drank prune (dried plums) juice and ate three or six prunes each morning for eight weeks were compared to a group that drank only a glass of water on an empty stomach.

Those who consumed the prunes and prune juice had significantly lower blood pressure levels, and low LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) than the group that drank water.

Another study found that men who had been diagnosed with high cholesterol had lower LDL cholesterol levels after consuming 12 prunes daily for eight weeks.

4.       Keeps the bowel healthy

Plums are well known for their ability to relieve constipation. This is a result of the high amounts of fiber that they contain.

There is about 12g of fiber per single serving of plums (100g) [3].

The fiber in diets has been found to play a key role in gastrointestinal health. It has been found to have regulatory effects on the gut (for example, digestion and absorption, transit time, stool formation) and microbial effects (changes in gut microbiota composition and fermentation metabolites) [4]

According to a meta-analysis published on PubMed, dietary fiber has been found to increase stool frequency in patients with constipation. Therefore, anyone suffering from constipation can equally take plums for their high fiber content.

They also speed up the rate at which waste moves through the body’s digestive tract. They have a lot of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative. For every one serving (i.e. 100g of plums), you will get about 14.7g of sorbitol in the fruit and about 6.1g of sorbitol in the prune juice [1].

This high amount of sorbitol, therefore, gives plums their laxative effects. As such, plums are very good fruits for people who battle with constipation and are recommended for anyone who consistently gets constipation.

5.       Helps with weight management

Plums are low in fat, thus, can serve as a snack or food for someone seeking to lose weight.

They can also make a person feel full, hence, preventing the person from overeating. Researchers at the University of Liverpool divided 100 overweight subjects into two groups; one group ate prunes every day for over 12 weeks, and the control group did not. On average, those in the prune group lost 4.4 lbs. (pounds) and an inch off their waistline.

Also, the presence of high levels of fiber in plums plays a key role in weight management. It leads to early satiety which then prevents the consumption of excess calories and prevents putting on weight.

Some studies have shown that high levels of fiber as are present in plums lead to improved insulin sensitivity, weight regulation, and reduced inflammation with increases in gut-derived short-chain fatty acids, all of which may reduce the risk of developing metabolic diseases [5].

6.       Plums improve memory and brain health

Plums are good for the brain. They contain antioxidants that can slow down the development of brain-related issues or diseases such as tumor growth. Anthocyanin and Quercetin which are both beneficial in supporting a healthy brain can be found in plums.

University of Harvard Health Research has shown antioxidants in plums can slow the development of Alzheimer’s. (A progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions)

Sliced Plums fruits
Sliced Plums fruits

7.       Regulate diabetes

Plums are one of the best fruits when it comes to regulating diabetes. Their extract can produce potential anti-hyperglycemic effects and can help in fighting diabetes.

A study published in the Biomedical Research journal has shown that plum extracts can help in lowering blood sugar and triglyceride levels in the body. Another study published in The British Medical Journal states that the flavonoids present in plums may exert protective effects against insulin resistance and can help lower the risk of type-2 diabetes.

 Check this out:
Are plums good for diabetics and should diabetics eat plums? 

8.       Helps the nervous system

Plums help the nervous system function better. They contain high amounts of vitamin B6, which may help in the transmission of nerve signals and can aid in the nervous system’s smooth functioning.

Tryptophan, an amino acid present in plums, can help produce neurotransmitter serotonin improving sleep, appetite, and concentration.

9.       Boosts the immune system

When it comes to consuming fruits that will help boost your immune system, the plum fruit is one of the best fruit options.

Plums contain lots of vitamin C, a nutrient known for fighting infections and repairing worn-out tissues. Vitamin C also improves the body’s resistance to inflammation.

10.   Reduces the appearance of scars on the body

Plums can reduce the appearance of scars on the body. They increase blood flow to the scar, this enables the development of new skin, thus reducing the appearance of the scar.

Plums also help the skin heal faster and restore damaged skin with new skin. Eating plums also adds a bonus to the skin because plums improve the texture of the skin and its elasticity.

They also help reduce dark spots on the skin.

What you need to know about the health benefits and risk of plums

Plums are nice-looking and very delicious fruits. They have so many health benefits and they should be eaten regularly. They also require very little preparation before consumption and they are very easy to add to your diet.

Every fruit does have some side effects when taken in excess amounts and plums are no exception. Plums when taken in excess amounts can cause allergic reactions (causing itching and swelling around the throat).

Irrespective of this, plums should be added to our diet, and below are some of the reasons why we should eat plums

Why you should eat plums

1.       Plums are good at relieving constipation. People suffering from constipation can remedy this by eating plums. Due to the high amounts of fiber and sorbitol that they contain, stools can be passed out with ease.

2.       Plums are also good for the immune system. They improve the immune system’s resistance to inflammation and also improve the body’s ability to fight against diseases.

3.       Another reason why plums should be eaten is that they improve brain health. Plus, they can improve mental acumen (making your brain sharper). Plums can also improve one’s memory retention.

4.       If you are someone on a diet or seeking to lose weight, eating plums is a good measure to take. They are low in calories and when eaten, make the person feel full, thus, preventing them from overeating.

5.       Plums are good for the bones and also, they prevent bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis (a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break). To prevent this, plums should be included in your diet.

WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:

Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for enochkabange.com and a writer for Wapomu

Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

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