The health benefits of plums

Low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, discover why plums are so good for you. Plus, learn how many plums count as one of your 5-a-day.

Plums cut in half on table

What are plums?

Plums are a medium-sized stone fruit. The most popular variety has a dark purple-red skin with yellow flesh inside, both of which are edible. You can also find plums that are green-yellow. All varieties have a stone in the centre of the fruit that is not edible. When dried, plums are known as prunes.

Plums are in season in the UK from August to September. They grow on trees, are harvested when ready and can then be eaten raw or cooked.

Nutritional profile of plums

Plums primarily contain carbohydrates, with 9.6g (all of which are naturally-occurring sugars) per 100g. They have just 0.1g fat and 0.6g protein per 100g. They are low in calories, with 39 per 100g, and have a high water content.

Plums also contain a good mix of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, which ensures blood clots normally; magnesium, which can help to manage the symptoms of stress and reduce fatigue, and folate, which helps the body to form healthy red blood cells. Plums also contain vitamin C, which helps with wound healing, and carotene, which converts to vitamin A and helps to support the normal function of the immune system.

Are plums high in sugar?

Plums are naturally high in fruit sugars such as glucose, fructose and sucrose. As with all fruit, the body processes sugar quickly for energy, but this can be slowed down if it's eaten with some protein – in the form of nuts and seeds, for example – which helps slow the release of the sugars.  

The average plum weighs about 78g and contains around 7.4g sugars, so it is not a high-sugar food. With all the vitamins and minerals plums contain, there are plenty of reasons to be eating them when they are in season.

A person holding some plums in their hands

How many plums counts as one of your five-a-day?

80g of plums count as one of your five-a-day, which is about one medium-sized plum. Because they can be eaten raw or cooked, it's easy to add them into your daily diet. Try chopping and eating on top of yogurt or porridge for breakfast, eat one with a handful of almonds for a mid-afternoon snack, or maybe slice them into a salad.

Can you be allergic to plums?

Some people are allergic to plums. They fall into the 'birch pollen' category of allergens, along with apples and celery, and they may cause itching and swelling of the mouth or throat in those affected. 

Allergy symptoms normally develop within minutes, and you should see your GP if you experience an adverse reaction to plums. However, if this develops into a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, it is a medical emergency and you should call for an ambulance immediately.

Read more about allergies on the NHS website.

How to buy the best plums?

Buy them when they're in season, and check they are ripe – they should feel heavy, and their skin should give slightly when pressed. If the plums are too soft, they're probably overripe. Also, check the skin for any blemishes or bruises.

Try cooking plums in a delicious, healthy breakfast of pink barley porridge with vanilla yogurt.

Now read...

The health benefits of prunes
The health benefits of blackberries
The health benfits of apples


This article was published on 20th September 2019.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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