Happy Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday! Juicy, delicious plums have been quite bountiful lately. There’s nothing quite like a ripe plum right of the tree for a summer day treat. Plums tend to be in season around June through August in Lake and Mendocino counties, so enjoy them while you can!
There is a wide variety of plums grown around the world, more than 2000 in fact. Plum varieties can offer such beautiful diverse fruits – some purple, red, yellow, green and white in flesh color. The exact history of plums isn’t known, but archeologists have found dried prunes in pyramids and tombs, as well as in digging sites that can date stone fruits as far back as the Bronze Age. Today, the most commonly sold plums are the European variety and the Japanese variety, originally from China. European plums tend to be used for cooking and drying. In France, plum trees are the most planted of any fruit trees! If you’re looking for the juiciest and biggest plums, the Japanese variety is the best. The biggest producer of plums is China and the US is second, with California being the main state for plum production.
The health benefits of plums abound, offering important minerals such as calcium, fluoride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, as well as key vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B-6, C, E and K.
One of the most commonly known health benefits of plums, more specifically dried plums or prunes, Plums, is their ability to promote proper digestion and help relieve constipation. The high fiber, along with the sugar alcohol (sorbitol) and isatin that dried plums contain are key components to combat constipation. They serve as natural laxatives that increase fluid secretion in the bowels which then support proper waste removal.
Plums also offer anti-inflammatory properties through polyphenols. When studies compared plums to nectarines and peaches, they offered twice as much polyphenols. The phytonutrients in plums – chlorogenic acid, cryptoxanthin, lutein, neochlorogenic and zeaxanthin – help fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress from causing damage. In addition, neurological inflammation can be reduced by the phytonutrients that plums contain, which then supports better cognitive function. These properties are so effective that it has been suggested that neurodegeneration from aging can be reduced or even prevented. The Vitamin B6 in plums helps improve neurological health by supporting brain growth, the nervous system, and production of hormones that influence your moods. The chlorogenic acids that plums contain have been proven effective in reducing anxiety and providing properties to combat oxidative stress as well.
Plums can help control blood sugar levels due to their fiber content – which helps slow down absorption of carbs and results in a slower increase in blood sugar – and their ability to increase the blood sugar regulating hormone, adiponectin. The significant flavonoids in plums also help the body become more insulin sensitive and better able to metabolize glucose, which in turn reduces one’s risk of diabetes.
Dried plums, or prunes, offer many vital minerals and vitamins that contribute to bone health such as, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin K. The electrolyte, potassium in plums is also vital for the body’s cells and tissues to be able to function properly.
Consumption of plums can also support eye health due to their vitamin A and beta-carotene content which helps prevent macular degeneration. Carotenoids from plums are also able to prevent UV damage of the retina.
Studies have shown that subjects who regularly consume plums have better cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Research has also shown that blood flow can be improved by regularly eating dried plums. Blood circulation is further supported by the iron and copper in plums, helping prevent anemia as well. Furthermore, the antioxidants, fiber and potassium in plums in general provide support for a healthy cardiovascular system.
Your skin will thank you for eating plums thanks to the high amount of vitamin C and antioxidants they contain, which can help smooth the skin and promote even skin tone. In fact, many skincare products use extracts from plums.
There are a couple things to be aware of if you’re eating plums. They are high in oxalates which contribute to kidney and gallbladder stones. If those are common complications for you, then it might be best to avoid regular consumption of plums. Sulfites are used to treat plums during the drying process to avoid oxidation. It’s important to keep in mind if you’re sensitive to sulfite consumption.
Plums are enjoyable just as is, but are also often dried, juiced, stewed, pickled, used in smoothies, on salads, or made into jam or chutney. The juice of plums is also often fermented into plum wine or distilled into a plum brandy. Hopefully you’re finding plenty of ways to savor these delicious treats from nature!
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- Organic Facts - 21 Best Benefits of Plums by Meenakshi Nagdeve
- Healthline - 7 Health Benefits of Plums and Prunes
- Real Food For Life - 10 Health Benefits of Plums and Crazy Facts by Diana Herrington
- New World Encyclopedia - Plum
- Nature & Garden - Plums, a sweet delicacy