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Prunes vs plums - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Christelle  Tchakerian by Christelle Tchakerian | Last updated on November 29, 2020
Education: Institute for Integrative Nutrition New York
Prune
vs
Common plum

Summary

Plums and prunes are health-promoting and disease-preventing foods. The difference between their glycemic indices is 24 units, with prunes' being lower.

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.

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 is called prune. Drying leads to the loss of the plum's volatile components and the appearance of new compounds. 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, sugar, starch, fat, protein, fiber, and polyunsaturated fat content due to a lower water percentage. 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 essential amino acid content, prunes are richer in tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, valine, and histidine.

Vitamins

Prunes contain more vitamins A, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6. On the other hand, plums contain 15 times more vitamin C and are higher in folate than prunes.

Both items contain no vitamin D.

In short, prunes are more abundant in vitamins.

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 +25%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 47% 9% 0% 2% 13% 43% 36% 26% 48% 3% 0% 149%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 21% 6% 0% 32% 7% 6% 8% 9% 7% 4% 0% 16%
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 +25%

Minerals

Prunes are richer 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.

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
Contains more Calcium +616.7%
Contains more Iron +447.1%
Contains more Magnesium +485.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +331.3%
Contains more Potassium +366.2%
Contains more Zinc +340%
Contains more Copper +393%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 13% 35% 30% 30% 65% 1% 12% 94%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 2% 7% 5% 7% 14% 0% 3% 19%
Contains more Calcium +616.7%
Contains more Iron +447.1%
Contains more Magnesium +485.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +331.3%
Contains more Potassium +366.2%
Contains more Zinc +340%
Contains more Copper +393%
Contains less Sodium -100%

Health Impact

Digestion

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.

Mental Health

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).

The plum fruit has been shown to enhance cognition and memory (2).

Cancer

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).

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).

Cardiovascular Health

Several studies have shown the lipid-lowering effect of prunes resulting in atherosclerosis prevention (2).

Moreover, research has shown that plum juice, rich in anthocyanin, plays a role in reducing blood pressure (6). The high vitamin C content of the plum fruit enhances iron absorption.

Muscle Mass

Plums contain polyphenols that encourage muscle formation (4). This is of particular importance in certain chronic diseases where muscle wasting is a problem.

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 in the 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 (3).

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 plums fresh for a few days, store them in the fridge. To conserve them for several months (up to 6), store plums 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 up to 12 months.

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.

Consumption and Production

The world's leading producer and consumer of plums is China producing around 6,676,142 tons per year and composing around 59% of total consumption (9).

The largest exporter of prunes in 2018 was Chile. The largest importer was Germany (10).

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 one cup from the Fruit Group. An individual should get a serving of one to two cups daily from the Fruit Group.

One cup of raw or cooked plum is equivalent to three medium or two large pieces or one cup of 100% plum juice. For prunes, the recommendation will be half a cup per day.

These amounts apply to individuals who get less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. Those who are physically more active may have higher caloric needs and may consume higher amounts (11).

Contraindications

There are no documented side effects of consuming prunes or plums to date.

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 significant bowel changes in men and postmenopausal women (2).

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409740/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/215580910
  3. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
  4. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/5/1077
  5. Marcia Vizzotto Food Chemistry 2014
  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://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190904005651/en
  10. https://www.tridge.com/intelligences/prune/production
  11. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/fruits
Article author photo Christelle  Tchakerian
Education: Institute for Integrative Nutrition New York
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Prune vs Common plum infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to 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 Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Prune Common plum Opinion
Net carbs 56.78g 10.02g Prune
Protein 2.18g 0.7g Prune
Fats 0.38g 0.28g Prune
Carbs 63.88g 11.42g Prune
Calories 240kcal 46kcal Prune
Starch 5.11g 0g Prune
Fructose 12.45g 3.07g Prune
Sugar 38.13g 9.92g Common plum
Fiber 7.1g 1.4g Prune
Calcium 43mg 6mg Prune
Iron 0.93mg 0.17mg Prune
Magnesium 41mg 7mg Prune
Phosphorus 69mg 16mg Prune
Potassium 732mg 157mg Prune
Sodium 2mg 0mg Common plum
Zinc 0.44mg 0.1mg Prune
Copper 0.281mg 0.057mg Prune
Vitamin A 781IU 345IU Prune
Vitamin E 0.43mg 0.26mg Prune
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 0.6mg 9.5mg Common plum
Vitamin B1 0.051mg 0.028mg Prune
Vitamin B2 0.186mg 0.026mg Prune
Vitamin B3 1.882mg 0.417mg Prune
Vitamin B5 0.422mg 0.135mg Prune
Vitamin B6 0.205mg 0.029mg Prune
Folate 4µg 5µg Common plum
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 59.5µg 6.4µg Prune
Tryptophan 0.025mg 0.009mg Prune
Threonine 0.049mg 0.01mg Prune
Isoleucine 0.041mg 0.014mg Prune
Leucine 0.066mg 0.015mg Prune
Lysine 0.05mg 0.016mg Prune
Methionine 0.016mg 0.008mg Prune
Phenylalanine 0.052mg 0.014mg Prune
Valine 0.056mg 0.016mg Prune
Histidine 0.027mg 0.009mg Prune
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat g 0g Prune
Saturated Fat 0.088g 0.017g Common plum
Monounsaturated Fat 0.053g 0.134g Common plum
Polyunsaturated fat 0.062g 0.044g Prune

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
31
Prune
9
Common plum
Mineral Summary Score
35
Prune
7
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 food.
Protein
13%
Prune
4%
Common plum
Carbohydrates
64%
Prune
11%
Common plum
Fats
2%
Prune
1%
Common plum

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 - 24)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Prune
Prune is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Common plum
Common plum is lower in Sugar (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)

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Prune - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168162/nutrients
  2. Common plum - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169949/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.