The plum is a wonderful, juicy fruit that belongs botanically to the family of Rosaceae (1). This fruit belongs to the genus Prunus domestica, which also includes peaches, nectarine, and almonds. It is one of the few fruits that come in a panorama of colors. The plant which bears this fruit is a small shrub that is widely grown all across the world, especially in China, United States, Japan, and Europe. The plum fruits differ in color and size according to the region of origin. The plant bears the plum fruits mostly during the months between May and September.
Each plum weighs around 50 grams and measures about 5 to 6 cm. The pulp is juicy and varies widely from yellow, crimson, light blue to light green, depending on the cultivar type. The skins of the plums can be red, purple, black, and green. There is a large stone-like seed placed in the center of the fruit. The common cultivars of plum are cherry plum, blackthorn plum, and damson. The plum has a sweet, tart taste and a very pleasant aroma. Other local names of plum are ‘Aloo Bukhara‘ in Hindi, ‘Alpagoda Pandu‘ in Telugu, ‘Alpakoda‘ in Tamil and ‘Onagida Draakshe‘ in Kannada.
Dried plums are known as prunes. There are around 2000 varieties of plums available in the world, and 100 are available in the United States alone. Though India is not much known for this fruit production, the country grows approximately 12 varieties of plum. Their primary producers are Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the rarely found fruits in India.
The plum is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C and K. These delicious, succulent fruits are quite low in calories. Each 100 grams of plums contain 46 calories and contains no saturated fats. It even contains several health-promoting compounds, minerals, and vitamins. These compounds include sorbitol and isatin. It contains minerals like potassium, fluoride, and iron. The total antioxidant strength of plums measured in terms of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is 6259. This fruit is also useful in promoting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants like lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin in significant amounts. It even contains moderate amounts of niacin, pantothenic acid, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Health Benefits Of Plums
Plums neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals and protect against the development of health conditions like asthma, arthritis, heart stroke and cancer. The antioxidants found in this fruit protect the body from free radicals that speed up the aging process. Zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, selectively absorbs light into the retina where it provides antioxidant and protective UV light filtering functions. These antioxidants are particularly effective in neutralizing the destructive oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical and are known to prevent oxygen-based damage to fats, such as fats that comprise a substantial portion of the brain cells or neurons. The antioxidants in this fruit also improve the memory by neutralizing the cell-damaging radicals.
- The compounds sorbitol and isatin, found in plums, help in regulating the functioning of the digestive system and in relieving constipation (2).
- The vitamin C in the plum helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and free radicals (3).
- Plums are good for the eyesight (4). They are also good for maintaining healthy mucous membranes and skin. It also protects the cholesterol from becoming oxidized by the free radicals. Oxidized cholesterol builds up in the arteries and damages the blood vessels. The vitamin C in plums is extremely helpful for controlling heart diseases in diabetic patients (5).
- Some studies have connected the plum to the prevention of cancer, especially breast, gastrointestinal and respiratory tract cancers (6). Anthocyanins, which are reddish blue pigments in this fruit, protect against cancer by mopping the free radicals. Vitamin A found in plums is also known to protect from oral and cavity cancer. Plums are particularly good in preventing breast cancer. The antioxidant power of plums and their phytonutrients cease the development of the breast cancer cells without killing the healthy cells.
- Plums also help in maintaining the heart health. They contain antioxidants that help to get rid of the free radicals and prevent cholesterol oxidation. Cholesterol oxidation is a threat to healthy blood vessels, which may eventually lead to a number of heart diseases such as heart stroke and high cholesterol. Plums contain potassium that is an important component of the cell and body fluids that help in controlling the heart rate and the blood pressure. It also prevents platelet clotting which may result in atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, stroke and coronary heart disease. It also maintains a healthy level of blood pressure. The fiber in plums helps to lower the cholesterol levels (7). Plums also contain vitamin B6, which prevents an increase in the homocysteine levels and reduces the possibility of a heart attack.
- Both plums and prunes are known to be effective natural laxatives and can help to maintain regular bowel habits (8).
- Plums can also protect against macular degeneration. Eating three servings of this fruit daily can lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (9). Try adding diced plums to your morning cereals or salads.
- Plum and prunes have the increased ability to absorb iron in the body (10). This ability is due to the high vitamin C content in this fruit. The iron in the plum is highly required for the formation of red blood cells. It improves the blood circulation in the body and prevents anemia.
- It also removes toxins and prevents constipation, leading to weight loss naturally (11). Plum is rich in fiber and antioxidants, which aid proper digestion and good metabolism. It contains citric acid, which prevents tiredness and cramps. It also improves liver and gastrointestinal function. Thus, eating plums or drinking plum juice regularly will help you shed those extra pounds easily (12).
- Plums rank quite low in glycemic index, so eating plums controls the blood sugar level and reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The phytonutrients found in plums control the release of glucose into the blood after you have just eaten your meal and regulate the insulin spike between the meals. So, it is recommended that diabetic patients should incorporate plums in their diet as it will not worsen the situation and will keep them healthy (13).
- The soluble fiber in plums also helps to lower cholesterol by soaking up the extra bile in the intestine and then excreting it (14). Bile is made in the liver to digest fat. When the body excretes bile along with fiber, the liver makes use of the cholesterol in the body to make more bile, thereby lowering the amount in circulation in the body. Soluble fiber also inhibits the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the liver in the first place.
- Plum also assists the body in making healthy tissues and a strong immune system (15). It prevents cold and flu and is helpful to people who suffer from recurrent infections.
- Several researches have concluded that eating plums boosts the bone health, especially of post-menopausal women. It reverses bone loss due to the rich amount of phenolic and flavonoids compounds. It also contains boron which plays an important role in ossification and actively participates in the preservation of the bone density and the general upkeep of your bones (16).
- Magnesium in plums is necessary for muscle contraction and nervous impulses (17).
- Prunes have a good amount of folic acid and calcium which contribute to the supply of folates. Folate is very essential for pregnant women and the growth of the fetus.
- Plums also have diuretic and detoxifying effects on the body (18).
[ Read: Benefits of Cucumber ]
Skin Benefits Of Plum
Eating highly pigmented fruits is believed to make you more attractive, thus eating plums can make you look more attractive:
- The vitamin E and beta-carotene, an antioxidant in plums, protect the fatty acids and the cell membranes from the attack of the free radicals, which allows the body to fight the signs of aging skin such as loss of elasticity and wrinkles (19). The plum contains a high amount of antioxidants and high anti-inflammatory properties, which increase the circulation and cell metabolism, reducing inflammation. This, in turn, promotes the elasticity of the skin and keeps acne and wrinkles at bay.
- Drinking plum juice can also help to even out the skin tone and firm the skin by improving the skin health and rejuvenating its appearance (20). Collagen deficiency often makes the skin dull and lifeless. The plum contains a high amount of vitamin C that is required for the production of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, which are needed to bind the molecules that produce collagen. This rejuvenates the skin from the roots and reduces wrinkles and other signs of aging.
- Plums can also reduce the appearance of scar tissue by increasing the blood flow to the scar tissue, minimizing the look of the scar and blending in the development of new skin.
- Plums have high amounts of antioxidants that provide an effective shield against the sunrays and reduces the sun damage (21). Sun damage can make the skin rough and wrinkly, but plums encourage the growth of new cells and make the skin younger.
- Plums also help to replace damaged tissue and help to heal the wounds at a faster pace. They improve the skin elasticity and create scar tissue and ligaments for a quick recovery.
- Applying plum pulp on the face lightens dark spots and treats skin discoloration, freckles and age spots to give you a younger looking and healthy skin (22).
Plum Benefits For Hair
Plum can help to maintain the hair follicles, connective tissue or collagen of the scalp and protects the cells both in the follicles and in the blood vessels of the scalp, thus promoting hair growth.
- Free radicals often make our hair weak, brittle and thin. These conditions often hinder proper hair growth. Vitamin E in the plum strengthens the cell membranes and prevents free radicals from attacking the follicles of the scalp. Thus, people who eat plums and prunes regularly have healthy, strong and thick hair (23).
- The vitamin C in the plum can also help you get rid of dandruff. The hair follicles often get clogged due to dandruff and flaky skin. This damages the follicles and inhibits the hair growth, if not treated in time. Plums can help fight the bacteria on the scalp and soothe the skin to ward off dandruff. This will get rid of the follicles debris and encourage new hair growth.
- Plum can also help reverse adrenal gland fatigue (24). This is very crucial for stopping hair loss and encourages more hair growth since the adrenal glands are very important for maintaining proper hormonal imbalance.
- The high iron content in this fruit improves the blood circulation and repairs the capillaries to promote stronger and thicker hair.
- Plums can also help to treat damaged hair and aid in the treatment of a variety of hair disorders that can damage the follicles and prevent proper hair growth. It also helps combat alopecia, male baldness in men.
- The plum is a highly pigmented fruit that not just combats hair loss problems but also retains the natural color of the hair. It also prevents premature graying.
Preparation And Storage
Plums are available throughout the year, mainly between May to September. Look for plums that are rich in color and have a slight whitish bloom which indicates that they have not been over handled. Avoid buying those that are overtly soft, or with cuts and dents. Plums that are slightly unripe can be kept at the room temperature for a day or two, until they ripen completely. The ripe ones should be immediately placed in the refrigerator to keep them fresh for a long time. Dry plums, which are called prunes, can be kept at room temperature for a few days. Plums should be washed thoroughly with tap water before eating. They can be safely eaten with the skin. These fruits are majorly used in the preparation of jams, pies, desserts and jellies. They can also be used in a variety of recipes, either baked or poached. Prunes are also added to muffins, cakes, and ice creams. It is possible to freeze a plum by blanching, removing the skin, coating the slices in lemon juice, and then combining the slices in a bowl of fruit juice syrup.
Plum Juice Beauty Recipes
Drinking the juice of fresh, succulent plums and using it for some of the easiest beauty recipes can be useful for you. While drinking plum juice can be refreshing, using the same for treating beauty problems can be absolutely hassle-free and rewarding. Try out the couple of plum juice recipes:
1.Plum Juice Hair Treatment
Mix freshly squeezed plum juice with whisked egg. Massage the hair roots with the concoction and leave it on the hair for about an hour. It works wonders for frizzy and dry hair.
2.Plum Juice-Honey Mask
Mix plum juice and honey in equal quantities, and use the mixture on your face to get glowing skin.
Try including the juice of this wonder fruit in your daily life to gain its best benefits and remain healthy, naturally.
Side Effects Of Plum
Plums contain oxalic acid, a naturally occurring substance, that can crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract, if eaten in high amounts. Therefore, people who have oxalate stones in the urinary tract should avoid eating plums.
Now you know the many health benefits of this tangy fruit. So, why wait? Include plums in your diet today and keep diseases and aging at bay in a delicious way!
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