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Prune vs Common plum - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Prune
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Common plum

INTRODUCTION

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.

NUTRITION

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.

VITAMINS COMPARISON

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.

MINERAL COMPARISON

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.

HEALTH IMPACT 

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).

CULINARY TIPS

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).

STORING CONDITIONS

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).

RECOMMENDATIONS

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).

CONTRAINDICATIONS

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).

SUMMARY

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.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409740/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/215580910
  3. https://californiaprunes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/bowen-overview-of-prune-composition-nutrition.pdf
  4. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/5/1077
  5. https://ainfo.cnptia.embrapa.br/digital/bitstream/item/107180/1/Marcia-Vizzotto-Food-Chemistry2014.pdf
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531717304827
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6312543/
  8. https://www.imedpub.com/articles/plums-a-brief-introduction.php?aid=18640
  9. https://californiaprunes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/bowen-overview-of-prune-composition-nutrition.pdf
  10. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190904005651/en/World-Plums-Sloes-Market-Analysis-Forecast-Size
  11. https://www.tridge.com/intelligences/prune/production
  12. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/fruits

Infographic

Prune vs Common plum infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Prune
7
:
Contains more Iron +447.1%
Contains more Calcium +616.7%
Contains more Potassium +366.2%
Contains more Magnesium +485.7%
Contains more Copper +393%
Contains more Zinc +340%
Contains more Phosphorus +331.3%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Iron +447.1%
Contains more Calcium +616.7%
Contains more Potassium +366.2%
Contains more Magnesium +485.7%
Contains more Copper +393%
Contains more Zinc +340%
Contains more Phosphorus +331.3%
Contains less Sodium -100%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Prune
8
:
Contains more Vitamin A +126.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +65.4%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +82.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +615.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +351.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +212.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +606.9%
Contains more Vitamin K +829.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +1483.3%
Contains more Folate, total +25%
Contains more Vitamin A +126.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +65.4%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +82.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +615.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +351.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +212.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +606.9%
Contains more Vitamin K +829.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +1483.3%
Contains more Folate, total +25%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
31
Prune
10
Common plum
Mineral Summary Score
24
Prune
5
Common plum

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Protein
13%
Prune
4%
Common plum
Carbohydrates
64%
Prune
11%
Common plum
Fats
2%
Prune
1%
Common plum

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Prune Common plum
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Prune Common plum
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

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Comparison summary

Which food is richer in minerals?
Prune
Prune is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Prune
Prune is lower in glycemic index (difference - 10)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Prune
Prune is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Sugars?
Common plum
Common plum contains less Sugars (difference - 28.21g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Common plum
Common plum contains less Sodium (difference - 2mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Common plum
Common plum is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.071g)
Which food is cheaper?
Common plum
Common plum is cheaper (difference - $1.5)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Prune Common plum Opinion
Calories 240 46 Prune
Protein 2.18 0.7 Prune
Fats 0.38 0.28 Prune
Vitamin C 0.6 9.5 Common plum
Carbs 63.88 11.42 Prune
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.93 0.17 Prune
Calcium 43 6 Prune
Potassium 732 157 Prune
Magnesium 41 7 Prune
Sugars 38.13 9.92 Prune
Fiber 7.1 1.4 Prune
Copper 0.281 0.057 Prune
Zinc 0.44 0.1 Prune
Starch 5.11 0 Prune
Phosphorus 69 16 Prune
Sodium 2 0 Common plum
Vitamin A 781 345 Prune
Vitamin E 0.43 0.26 Prune
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.051 0.028 Prune
Vitamin B2 0.186 0.026 Prune
Vitamin B3 1.882 0.417 Prune
Vitamin B5 0.422 0.135 Prune
Vitamin B6 0.205 0.029 Prune
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 59.5 6.4 Prune
Folate, total 4 5 Common plum
Folic acid (B9) 0 0
Trans Fat 0 Prune
Saturated Fat 0.088 0.017 Common plum
Monounsaturated Fat 0.053 0.134 Common plum
Polyunsaturated fat 0.062 0.044 Prune
Tryptophan 0.025 0.009 Prune
Threonine 0.049 0.01 Prune
Isoleucine 0.041 0.014 Prune
Leucine 0.066 0.015 Prune
Lysine 0.05 0.016 Prune
Methionine 0.016 0.008 Prune
Phenylalanine 0.052 0.014 Prune
Valine 0.056 0.016 Prune
Histidine 0.027 0.009 Prune
Fructose 12.45 3.07 Prune
The main source of information is USDA Food Composition Database (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Dietary Guidelines for Americans is used as the primary source for advice in this web resource
Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.