Plum Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Plums, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Plums are stonefruit grown on trees. They have thin, smooth skin and juicy interiors. Plums are sweet yet tart and packed full of purple pigmented anthocyanins—plant compounds that offer many health benefits.

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

Plum Nutrition Facts

One medium-sized plum measuring about 2 1/8" in diameter (66g) provides 30 calories, 0.5g of protein, 7.5g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Plums are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 30
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7.5g
  • Fiber: 0.9g
  • Sugars: 6.6g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Vitamin C: 6.27mg
  • Vitamin A: 11.2mcg

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 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, according to the USDA.

Calories

One medium-sized plum provides 30 calories, 88% of which come from carbs, 6% from protein, and 6% from fat. Plums are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food.

Summary

Plums are a low-fat, low-calorie, high-fiber source of carbohydrates. Plums contain antioxidants and some vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, copper, and manganese.

Health Benefits

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

Reduce Cell Damage

The vitamin C in a plum provides certain health benefits. Vitamin C is an important water-soluble vitamin responsible for repairing cells, supporting the immune system, 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.

Improve 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.

Lower Diabetes Risk

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.

May Prevent Hypertension

The anthocyanins in plums may help protect against high blood pressure. Subjects in a 2017 study were given anthocyanin-rich plum juice and a significant decrease in blood pressure and cardiovascular responses was observed.

May Boost Bone Health

Studies on the long-term consumption of dried plums show that they may boost bone health, particularly in post-menopausal women. A comprehensive review of 24 studies reveals that dried plums help stave off fractures and bone loss, enhancing bone formation. Researchers believe this may be due in part to the high phenolic compounds in the fruit.

Allergies

Some people develop allergies to plums. In particular, people with birch-pollen allergies may also react to raw plum due to a protein in the fruit 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

Plums can 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 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 the industry to reduce 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 various colors, such as red and black. The flesh color may vary from yellowish-gold to reddish-purple. The greengage 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. Nutrition information for prunes is different than it is for plums—even though prunes come from plums. A 40-gram serving of prunes (about 5 prunes) contains 96 calories, 26g carbohydrate, 15g sugar, 3g fiber, 0.9g protein, and 0.2g fat.

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; their peak season is August and September. However, you may find imported plums in your supermarket year-round.

When you select plums, look for fruit 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.

You can also freeze plums in freezer bags, either whole or cut up. They'll typically keep in the freezer for about 12 months.

You can also make a plum sauce and freeze it. Cook the plums down until the plum sauce is as thick as you like, and freeze 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 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. You can bake plums, 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 want 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

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15 Sources
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