Dripping, juicy plums seem to be fire inspo for everything from Instagram flat lays to poetry tweets. (Just ask everyone who contributed to that Williams Carlos Williams poem-turned-Twitter meme.)
Although they may be very #aesthetic, plums have so much more to offer. When you nosh on some plums or prunes (dried plums), you’re getting a number of health benefits.
What are the benefits of plums?
Most fruits have benefits worth raving about, and plums are no exception. Here are just a few reasons to eat plums:
- combats constipation
- full of antioxidants
- lowers blood sugar
- promotes bone health
- helps maintain a healthy weight
- *might* help combat cancer cells
These purple-red-hued fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and benefits worth bragging about. Here’s what to know.
Plums contain vital vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and a bit of potassium. Prunes (aka dried plums) will get you a little extra vitamin K boost, but with more calories, sugar, and carbs.
These vitamins and minerals can support your immune, digestive, and reproductive systems, as well as your eyesight, heart, lungs, and kidneys.
2. Combats constipation
Prunes aren’t just for grandparents — although let’s be real, they seem to love them.
Due to their high fiber content, dried plums are often revered for their ability to relieve constipation. (Two prunes have about 1 gram of fiber.) Basically, prunes add bulk to your poo, thereby speeding up the rate that things can *ahem* get moving through your digestive tract.
In a 2011 study, researchers found eating prunes to be more effective at easing constipation than a common laxative treatment. A 2014 study also found prunes softened stools in both constipated and nonconstipated peeps.
Meanwhile, both prunes and prune juice have sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol that has a natural laxative effect. Word of warning, though: Don’t overdo it. Stick to getting 4 to 8 ounces of prune juice per a day to avoid diarrhea.
Since plums don’t have as much fiber per serving, it can be hard to get your fiber boost this way. Plums are still great for everyday digestive health, but prunes have more bang for your bite.
3. Full of antioxidants
Studies show that plums deliver a good dose of antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and protect your bod from free radical damage.
They’re especially high in polyphenol antioxidants, which benefit bone health and may help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
In a 2015 test tube study, researchers found that the polyphenols in prunes significantly reduced inflammatory markers associated with joint and lung diseases. But we need more human studies to be sure.
4. Lowers blood sugar
Despite being pretty high in carbs, plums and prunes have a low glycemic index. Eating fruits like plums and prunes is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
The fiber in plums helps slow the rate your body absorbs carbs post-meal, causing blood sugar to rise slowly, rather than spike. And according to older 2005 research, eating plums may boost levels of adiponectin in the body (a hormone that’s key to blood sugar regulation).
But, remember you can have too much of a good thing (especially prunes, which have more sugar and calories).
5. Promotes bone health
The vitamin K, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium content in prunes are all linked to bone health. Noshing on prunes may also boost certain hormones involved in bone formation.
In a 2020 study of men with moderate bone loss, researchers found that eating 100 grams of prunes daily for 3 months led to a lower rate of bone loss. The prunes also seemed to curb inflammation and boost overall bone health. Another study from 2011 found that a daily serving of dried prunes seemed to slow bone loss in postmenopausal women.
A 2017 review concluded that dried prune consumption does appear to have a beneficial impact on bone mineral density. However, researchers noted that the data isn’t completely consistent, and that more research is needed before we can say for sure.
Eating plums and prunes may make your heart happy, too. Plums may reduce heart disease risk factors due to their high fiber, potassium, and antioxidant content.
In a 2010 study, subjects who drank prune juice and ate 3 to 6 prunes each morning for 8 weeks had significantly lower blood pressure levels, and lower cholesterol (including “bad” LDL levels) than the group that drank water instead.
Meanwhile, a 2015 study found that rats fed dried plum powder and plum juice had lower cholesterol levels, including increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Though these study results look promising for the hearts of plum lovers, we need more up-to-date research on humans.
7. Helps maintain a healthy weight
Plums are both delish and low in fat. So if you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth with a whole food treat, prunes or plums might be your fix without crashing any weight loss goals.
Research suggests that the fiber in plums and prunes can also help you feel full. This might help you eat fewer calories overall and support a healthy-for-you weight.
Adding more fresh fruits and veggies to your diet in general will typically help with overall health and weight loss. So why not try some healthy plum slices with oats, too?
8. *Might* help combat cancer cells
High antioxidant levels in plums and prunes may help combat certain types of cancer cells.
According to research from 2018, plum extract significantly reduced the instance of brain cancer cells in test tube studies. Meanwhile, a 2010 test tube study found that even the most aggressive breast cancer cells died when treated with plum or peach extract. This is promising, but remember that the findings from these types of studies don’t necessarily apply outside of a lab.
We need way more research before we can say that plums help treat or prevent cancer. But a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle that includes plums just might help.
All those plums just might prevent you from plumb forgetting things too.
A 2015 study found that eating Asian plums for 5 months appeared to boost brain function and relieve some symptoms of neurodegenerative brain conditions in mice who ate a high cholesterol diet.
Meanwhile, an older study from 2009 found plum juice (but not dried plum powder) effective in reducing cognitive decline in aged rats.
More studies need to be conducted before we can all just eat plums in order to stop forgetting where we left our dang keys. But so far, the evidence looks positive.
There are dozens of plum species out there, but here are a few of the most common types to try:
- Asian plums (aka Chinese or Japanese plums). This purple-red plum is sweet and juicy.
- Black amber. With dark purple skin and yellow flesh, these tasty plums can be found across the states.
- Damson. This super tart plum is perfect for jam, stewed fruit, and of course, tarts.
- Elephant heart. This ruby red plum is super juicy, tropical-tasting, and even has a hint of vanilla flavor.
- French prune (aka sugar plums). These walnut-sized, violet-black plums are tart when firm and super sweet when soft — perfect for baking.
- Friar. You’ll find this one in most American supermarkets. Inky black and delish, best picked fully ripe.
- Greengage. Green-yellow and honey-sweet, this European plum is extremely rare, but a special treat.
- Mirabelle. Tiny, yellow and intensely sweet. Used to make French plum eau-de-vie.
- Myrobalan (aka cherry plums). Sweet little plums, cherry sized.
Plums are perfect for eating straight-up or added to smoothies, salads, sauces, and sweets of all kinds. They’re often stewed and also delicious when juiced.
Need some inspo? Give these plum recipes a try:
- triple chocolate and plum protein cake bars
- plum sorbet
- prune puree (a healthy baking substitute for sugar)
- vanilla plum energy bites
- prune breakfast detox smoothie
- garlic and prune “hoisin sauce”
Plums are a sweet and delicious fruit to boot. Both plums and prunes are A+ sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
They may come with a host of benefits, including lowering blood sugar, strengthening bones, and fending off chronic conditions like heart disease.