Plums are stone-fruits, meaning their flesh is formed around a stone-like pit. They can be found in most supermarkets, groceries, and some fruit stands as fresh, canned, dried, or even juice products. Their sweet and slightly sour taste makes them a very popular addition to yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and many more – but as rich as they are in flavor, they are also a good source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. Here are 6 science-supported reasons why plums are a superb health food.
#1: Rich in anti-oxidants
Our body is constantly bombarded by free radicals and impurities from food and the environment that destroy our organ system’s natural equilibrium. When this happens, the immune system becomes very weak and we become more prone to disease. However, anti-oxidants like phenols and flavonoids clear out these toxins from our body, keeping it healthy and functioning at an optimal level. A variety of plums were studied and found to be a rich source of anti-oxidants that can promote and improve health.
#2: Targets the endocrine and gastrointestinal systems
In a study published in 2013, plums were revealed to have significant amounts of sorbitol, quinic acid, chlorgenic acids, vitamin K, boron, copper, and potassium. The bioactivity of these compounds together were shown to have positive effects on post-prandial blood glucose and bowel movement. The former effect has direct implications on plum’s ability to prevent diabetes while the latter has direct implications on constipation and (quite possibly) colon cancer.
#3: Reduces risk for cardiovascular disease
In a clinical study done in 2010, the intake of prune juice was able to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure. When a double dose was used, significant reductions were seen in systolic blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein values. LDLs are colloquially referred to as “bad cholesterol” because they tend to cling to and damage blood vessel walls, forming plaque that can clog an artery (which is one of leading causes of heart attacks). On the other hand, too high systolic pressure can rupture weak (or even healthy!) arterial walls which can lead to a vascular bleed.
#4: Improvement of brain health
Research in 2009 and 2015 studied the benefits of plum juice in improving cognitive deficits. The study focused on the phenols found in plums and how they are able to affect the cognitive function of aged test subjects. The results revealed how plum juice was able to reduce age-related cognitive deficits which has promising effects on preventing age-related cognitive decline in humans. A similar study in 2013 also showed that plums were able to improve learning and memory in test subjects, stemming from anti-oxidant and anti-dyslpidemic activities.
#5: Anti-microbial effects
When the plum fruit was extracted in an ethyl acetate solvent, high anti-microbial effects were seen against gram positive and negative bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus intermedius, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus pumilius, E. coli, Proteus mirabilis, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella typhi, and Klebsiella pneumonia. This implies that plum extracts could be used topically as an anti-microbial agent.
#6: Fights auto-immune disease
Linked to the potent anti-microbial ability of plums is its ability to prevent autoimmune disease. Autoimmune inflammatory disorders like arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis have bacterial triggers, meaning they can be exacerbated by certain bacterial microorganisms. The leaf of the Kakadu plum was shown to be toxic to bacterial triggers of rheumatoid arthritis, anklyosing spondylitis, and multiple sclerosis.
How you can add plums to your diet
Because plums are available in a variety of forms, they can also be included in a variety of your everyday meals, drinks, and snacks. Dried plums can be added to yogurt while fresh plums can be added to salads, juices, and smoothies. Canned plums store for longer and its fruit and juice can be used to top a dessert like cheesecake. You can also add the plum fruit to savory dishes like stuffing for chicken or similar meats. Who knew plums could be so healthy for you?