Plum Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Plums, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Plums are a less-concentrated, lower-calorie form of prunes, which are commonly used to prevent and treat constipation because of their fiber content. A single plum has only about 30 calories, so it makes a great grab-and-go snack. Plums can be a healthy and delicious addition to your weekly meal plan.

Plum Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one fresh plum measuring about 2 1/8" in diameter (66g).

  • Calories: 30
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7.5g
  • Fiber: 0.9g
  • Sugars: 6.6g
  • Protein: 0.5g

Carbs

One medium plum contains nearly 8 grams of carbohydrates. There are 6.6 grams of naturally occurring sugar and almost 1 gram of fiber in each plum.

The glycemic load of a single plum is estimated to be about 2, making it a low glycemic food. Glycemic load takes portion size into account when estimating the impact of a food on blood sugar. If you eat more than a single serving, the glycemic load will be higher.

Fats

Plums are a low-fat food, with less than 1 gram of fat per serving.  

Protein

Plums are not a rich source of protein. There is about a half of a gram of protein in a single plum.

Vitamins and Minerals

Plums are not a significant source of vitamins and minerals. However, you will get about 6.3mg of vitamin C or about 10% of your daily recommended intake. Plums also provide smaller amounts of vitamin K, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Health Benefits

There are limited studies on the health benefits of plums, but research has indicated a few potential benefits.

Reduces Cell Damage

The vitamin C in a plum provides certain health benefits. Vitamin C is an important water-soluble vitamin that is responsible for repairing cells, boosting immunity, and slowing down the aging process.

Plums also contain phytonutrients, particularly phenols, which have antioxidant effects. Antioxidants may help prevent cell damage that may lead to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegeneration, and aging.

Treats Constipation

Prunes (dried plums) and prune juice are popular treatments for constipation. Those who prefer a natural treatment often turn to the dried fruit or juice for relief rather than turning to other types of fiber or over-the-counter laxatives. Studies have indicated that the treatment may be effective.

One review of studies published in 2014 concluded that in the treatment of constipation, prunes appear superior to psyllium (fiber) for improving stool frequency and consistency. Study authors added, however, that more research is needed to confirm their findings.

Improves Heart Health

Plums contain soluble fiber, which is known for being cardio-protective and helpful in reducing bad cholesterol. Limited studies on the fruit have shown that plum consumption is associated with improved cognitive function, bone health parameters, and cardiovascular risk factors.

Lowers Diabetes Risk

Results from three cohort studies demonstrated that greater consumption of certain whole fruits is significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Plums were included in the study and identified as a low-glycemic fruit. Study authors indicated that replacing fruit juice with whole plums was associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

Allergies

Some people develop allergies to plums. In particular, people with birch-pollen allergies may also have a reaction to raw plum due to a protein in the fruit that is similar to birch pollen. Cooking destroys the protein, so many people who react to raw plums can enjoy them cooked. 

Sometimes plum allergies are not related to birch pollen and can be more serious. People with this type of plum allergy should not eat cooked plums or plum juice.

Symptoms typically appear 5 to 15 minutes after eating and include itching and inflammation in the mouth and throat. More serious reactions include hives, abdominal pain, and vomiting and may be life-threatening.

Adverse Effects

While plums and prunes can be an effective treatment for constipation, they can also cause digestive problems, including gas, bloating, and diarrhea, especially in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Also, acrylamide is found in measurable amounts in some prune products. Acrylamide is a chemical that is formed when certain food products are cooked or prepared in various ways (such as drying). Studies have demonstrated that certain foods like strained prunes, prune juice, and plain prunes contain measurable amounts of the chemical. But researchers don't believe that acrylamide is harmful to humans. Still, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently developing guidance for industry on the reduction of acrylamide levels in food products.

Varieties

There are two main types of plums: European plums and Japanese plums. There are also many different varieties within those two categories.

In the U.S., European plums are most commonly found in stores. European plums are usually blue but can come in a variety of colors. For example, the greenage plum remains green when ripe. European plums are sometimes dried and eaten as prunes. Prunes are produced by drying special plum varieties, usually the French Agen.

The nutrition information for prunes is different than it is for plums—even though prunes come from plums. A 66-gram serving of prunes contains about 159 calories, 42 grams of carbohydrate, over 25 grams of sugar, about 1.5 grams of protein, and less than a gram of fat.

Interestingly, limited market research has shown that many people respond better to the name "dried plums" rather than "prune." Therefore you'll often hear prunes being referred to as dried plums. California grows 99% of the U.S. supply of dried plums.

Japanese plums can be round or heart-shaped and also come in a range of colors. Japanese plums are usually not suitable for drying because they contain less sugar.

Some people wonder whether sugar plums are made from plums. This candy is not a sugar-coated plum, rather, a small round candy of flavored boiled sugar.

When It’s Best

Fresh plums are available from June through October since their peak season is August and September.

When you select plums in the produce section of your market, look for fruit that is free of nicks and blemishes. They should be even in color, appear to be plump and smell sweet.

Avoid purchasing plums that are rock-hard. These plums may never fully develop the rich juiciness of a fully ripe plum. Instead, pick plums that are slightly soft and give a little to the touch.

Storage and Food Safety

If your plums are slightly hard, you can keep them at room temperature in a paper bag for one to two days to allow them to ripen. But once they are slightly soft at the end, you'll want to put them in the refrigerator to prevent them from over-ripening. Fresh plums can keep in the refrigerator for about two to three days.

Plums can also be frozen in freezer bags, either whole or cut up. They'll typically keep in the freezer for about 12 months.

You can also store plums in the freezer as plum sauce. Cook the plums down until the plum sauce is as thick as you like and freeze them in small, sealable containers.

How to Prepare

Before you consume your plums, you'll probably want to clean them. Plums often contain a white residue on the outside, similar looking to powder, which is referred to as "bloom." You'll most likely recall seeing this on grapes, too. Bloom is a good sign because it acts as a natural protector during handling. Before consumption, it is important to rinse plums, but eating the bloom is not harmful.

Plums are great to eat on their own. They also hold up well to a variety of cooking methods. Plums can be baked, grilled, poached, and used in making desserts, such as pies, cobblers, or tarts. Plums are often used to make jams, preserves, or sauces for meats and other cuisines. If you are looking to add color and flavor to your salad, slice up some plums and place them on top. Or chop up some plums to make a spicy salsa.

Recipes

Healthy Plum Recipes to Try

Make plum preserves or add plums in your favorite fruit salad or crisp recipe.

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Article Sources
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