Prunes vs plums - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Plums are fruits in the Prunus subgenus. To date, 40 registered species of the plum fruit are documented, of which the European and Japanese plums are of most considerable economic importance (1).
The dehydrated form of specific cultivars of the plum and is called prune. Drying leads to the loss of the plum's volatile components and the appearance of new compounds (2). Prunus domestica, Prunus salicina, and Prunus americana are three plum species contributing to the production of most of the prunes (2). The carbohydrate composition in these plums allows the fruit to undergo dehydration while avoiding the fermentation process (3).
Plums are mostly eaten fresh while prunes are eaten dried or juiced.
Prunes and plums have been used as food and medicine for centuries. Through a simplistic analysis, let us explore how these two items are nutritionally similar or different.
The nutritional content of plums and prunes is summarized below using visual aids.
Prunes have approximately five times the amount of calories in plums. Moreover, prunes have a higher carbohydrate due to lower water content, sugars, starch, fat, protein, fiber, and polyunsaturated fats. The glycemic index of prunes is lower than that of plums.
Plums are more abundant in saturated and monounsaturated fats than prunes.
The anticipated cholesterol and trans fat content of prunes and plums are null.
Regarding amino acid content, prunes are richer in tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, valine, and histidine.
Prunes contain more vitamins A, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6. On the other hand, plums contain 15 times more vitamin C than prunes.
Both items contain no vitamin D or vitamin B9 (folic acid). In brief, prunes are more abundant in vitamins.
Prunes are more abundant in minerals as they have more iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. Plums have a lower sodium content, with the difference being 2mg.
Prune's high fiber and polyol content contribute to its laxative effects (1). Therefore, they can be beneficial for constipated people, specifically for mild constipation cases. The high fiber content also helps in staying fuller for longer. Numerous studies have shown that prune suppresses certain types of human cancer cell growth (2). It is hypothesized that the anticancer action of prunes is due to the antioxidant compounds that it contains (2). Several studies have shown the lipid-lowering effect of prunes resulting in atherosclerosis prevention (2). Studies have pointed out the anti-anxiety effect that prunes have (2). Oxidative stress is correlated with anxiety problems, so the anxiolytic effect of prunes may be mainly through some contents that ameliorate the antioxidant defense mechanism (2).
Plums contain polyphenols that encourage muscle formation (4). This is of particular importance in certain chronic diseases where muscle wasting is a problem (4). A study has shown that plums contain many types of phytochemicals that play a role in preventing cell proliferation in breast cancer cell lines (5). Moreover, research has shown that plum juice, rich in anthocyanin, plays a role in reducing ambulatory blood pressure (6). The plum fruit has been shown to enhance cognition and memory (2). The high vitamin C content of the plum fruit enhances iron absorption.
HISTORY AND ORIGIN
Historical data show that Prunus domestica and other Eurasian plum species contributed to the development of primitive European societies (7).
The plum was first documented written in 7th century BC. Historical evidence suggests that plums were a result of human cultivation and selection. Prunus domestica is thought to have originated from an area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; however, determining the exact origin of plums remains a matter of debate (7). It can only be inferred that the early varieties of the plum originated in Western Asia and traveled to Europe and consequently reaching North America (8).
Prunes and plums are considered versatile ingredients to work with. They can be eaten as is, pureed, juiced, or cooked. They are a great addition to your breakfasts, snacks, smoothies, proteins, and salads. Because of their sweet taste, they can be used in deserts to help reduce the amount of added refined sugar. Pureed prunes can help partially replace the fat content of baked desserts (9).
Unripe (usually green colored) plums should sit at room temperature away from sunlight until they ripen (usually turn purple). Ripe plums are fresh fruits that can quickly go rancid. To keep fresh for a few days, store in the fridge. To conserve for several months (up to 6), store in the freezer.
Prunes should be stored in cool and dry conditions in air-tight containers. They can be stored in the freezer to increase shelf life to up to 12months.
HOW SHOULD YOU BUY THEM?
Ripe plums are hard but can be gently squeezed. Unripe ones are very firm. Careful with signs of cuts, discoloration, or decomposition.
Prunes should be shiny. They can be pitted or not. Beware of the presence of mold, added sugar, or any additive.
USAGE OVER THE WORLD
The world's leading producer and consumer of plums are China producing around 6,676,142 tons per year and composing around 59% of total consumption (10). The largest exporter of prunes was Chile (2018). The largest importer was Germany (2018) (11).
The amount of fruit needed per day widely varies depending on age, sex, level of physical activity, health status, weight, metabolic rate, and many other criteria. According to the USDA, one cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or half a cup of dried fruit can be considered as one cup from the Fruit Group. An individual should get one to two cups daily from Fruit Group. One cup of raw or cooked plum is equivalent to three medium or two large pieces, or one cup 100% plum juice. For prunes, the recommendation will be half a cup per day.
These amounts apply for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity. Those who are physically more active may have higher caloric needs and may be able to consume higher amounts (12).
To date, there are no side effects of consuming prunes or plums. There are some reports of diarrhea due to prune consumption (2). Research showed that consuming a maximum of 100 grams of prunes in a regular daily diet did not produce important bowel changes in men and postmenopausal women (2).
Plums and prunes are health-promoting and disease-preventing foods. The difference between their glycemic indices is ten units. Prunes have higher amounts of macronutrients, fiber, minerals, specifically iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus, vitamins, particularly A, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and amino acids. Prunes have a longer shelf life since they are dehydrated.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sugars|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
Which food is preferable in case of diets?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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