Plums are back in season and the good news is they have a great nutrient profile, making them supportive of our general health and wellbeing.
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, tells us why these little purple fruits hit the top spot nutritionally.
Plums are antioxidant superfoods
We know from the wealth of research that antioxidants hold one of the keys to a healthy, disease-free life. While the body has many antioxidant enzyme systems to help prevent disease, foods are also needed to feed these systems and to provide additional antioxidant protection. And this is where plums can stand proud! They have some of the highest amounts of antioxidants, especially vitamin C, even in their dried prune form.
Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, and plums are especially good in this respect. Plus, vitamin C is great for keeping the arteries clear as well as helping to protect the immune system. We often forget about the immune system when the sun is shining but it still needs some love all year-round. And prevention is always better than cure.
The dried variety are great for regularity
Many people don’t realise that prunes are dried plums. And they are incredibly effective at helping bowels to work more efficiently. If you’re suffering from sluggish bowels, then prunes are your best friend. Prunes are high in insoluble fibre which feeds the friendly gut bacteria, helping to solve any digestive issues.
Good levels of friendly bacteria are also needed to help form the stool. Plus, plums naturally contain a type of sugar called sorbitol which has a laxative effect. It seems to draw water into the intestines which then spurs a bowel movement. Importantly, prunes provide bulk which also helps to get things moving.
Prunes may be helpful in weight management
Although prunes taste quite sweet, their soluble fibre content helps balance blood sugar levels, which in turn can aid successful weight management. It’s very difficult to lose weight when blood sugar is imbalanced as excess glucose is merely sent to fat cells for safe keeping.
Additionally, soluble fibre promotes a feeling of fullness, reducing the risk of overeating. Why not include some plums on your breakfast cereal, or even better, with your overnight oats? Tinned prunes often contain sugar-laden syrup, so look for varieties sold in transparent containers, generally in health food stores. If you find them too dry, try soaking them in a little hot water or some light apple juice for a few minutes to help bring them back to life.
Plums are heart-healthy
The nutrient profile of plums means they’re great for heart health. They are a good source of the mineral potassium, which is a blood pressure regulator, plus vitamin C which helps protect both the heart and arteries.
Importantly, plums are a rich source of polyphenols – plant compounds which provide many health benefits. Specifically, polyphenols help manage inflammation and are powerful antioxidants, both aspects being super-helpful for the heart.
Go Japanese with umeboshi plums
Go into any health food store and you’ll see umeboshi plums. Translated into English this is ‘salted Japanese’ plums. These are basically pickled plums and are great for digestion, helping to treat upset stomachs, nausea, and constipation in Asian cultures.
Pickled foods are fermented which provide probiotics and these amazing microbes that live within the gut are essential for so many aspects of health. In terms of eating umeboshi plums, the Japanese often use them to flavour rice, or as a digestive aid at the end of a meal. Their health benefits certainly merit giving them a try.
If you’ve never tried a plum, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and your health will thank you too!