A dietician shares 4 key health benefits of plums

meMHO, plums are among the larger underdogs in the world of summer fruits, which makes me feel the need to put on my PR hat and give them some much-deserved airtime. For starters, this summer fruit is too often overshadowed by other warm-weather staples like watermelon, peaches, and cherries. Next, prunes (also known as dried plums) tend to steal the spotlight over their juicy counterparts, especially when you’re hoping to relieve constipation through diet, though to be fair, this isn’t necessarily the sexiest association.

In any case, my mission today is to encourage you to give plums, and therefore your health, a little more love and discover their most impressive benefits. To accomplish this task faithfully and (free pun alert) fruitfully, I enlisted the help of Los Angeles-based dietitian Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, to share the key health benefits of plums.

4 benefits of plum for your general health and well-being

1. They’re Packed With Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

“Plums are excellent sources of a handful of important nutrients, including vitamins C and E, while also being low in sugar,” says Vaca-Flores. They also contain anthocyanins, which are red, purple, and blue pigments that belong to the phenolic group. Anthocyanins are revered for their vast medicinal properties, including “antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects,” according to a 2017 article in Food and Nutrition Research.

A word to the wise: keep the skins on plums, as they will contain a higher concentration of these protective compounds compared to the pulp alone.

2. They are good for digestion, constipation and intestinal health

Just like their dried counterparts, plums are also beneficial to munch on if you’re a little fed up thanks to their fiber and water content. “A medium-sized plum provides almost a gram of fiber, with fiber being important for digestion and regularity,” says Vaca-Flores. “Also, plums are estimated to contain 80% water, which can also help things move forward.” If you’re having trouble passing solid or consistent bowel movements, she recommends eating some plums (or prunes) to increase your fiber intake and get closer to experiencing digestive relief.

3. They help regulate blood sugar

As Vaca-Flores mentioned earlier, whole plums are low in sugar and with a glycemic index (GI) of 35, they are considered low glycemic. (For context, low-glycemic foods have a GI of 55 or less.) “Plums also produce a hormone called adiponectin, which can help with blood sugar balance,” says Vaca-Flores. Last but not least, she adds that the fiber content in plums works its magic beyond constipation relief, as it “can also help prevent a spike in blood sugar.”

In short, plums are unlikely to spike blood sugar levels, making them a healthy snack for those who need to be extra cautious on this front. One study even found that a higher intake of plums (among other whole fruits) was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, making them worth adding to your produce drawer.

4. They are healthy for the heart

Research shows that plums may also offer protective benefits for heart health. “A recent study found that dried plums could reduce cholesterol levels and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as inflammation and antioxidant capacity,” says Vaca-Flores. Also, remember the earlier call to anthocyanins? It turns out that increased consumption of these powerful antioxidants may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in both men and women worldwide.

Plums vs. Prunes: Is One Form More Beneficial Than the Other?

While I’ve already planted my flag firmly in #TeamPlum territory (and hope you’ll join me by now), you may be wondering if prunes and prunes are equally nutritious and beneficial to your health, or if one way should have priority. “Prunes are just dried plums,” says Vaca-Flores. “The main difference is that prunes are slightly higher in calories, fiber, and vitamin K.”

That said, Vaca-Flores says he doesn’t prefer one over the other, so ultimately you can choose your own dietary adventure on this one. “Both are good, healthy snacks that can increase your daily fruit intake,” she concludes. But, you know, she might as well stock up on a variety of deliciously juicy, fresh whole plums while they’re still in season.

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