Plums or plums ? To some it may seem strange but, whatever you call it, the fruit is the same! With a thousand varieties and a thousand colors, plums provide our body with many benefits, both fresh and dried. However, As with all fruit, it would be preferable to consume fresh plums, alone or inserted in a fruit salad or together with a salad, because in this way they fully preserve their precious constituents, with a reduced calorie intake: prunes have 220 calories. , against 30 of the fresh ones .
Their consumption is good for the bones and guarantees a full body of vitamin C and mineral salts such as potassium and magnesium. But plums, or plums if you prefer, are also rich in antioxidants and boast important diuretic, purifying and anticancer properties .
Without forgetting their known laxative capacity , due to the presence in the fruit of a consistent fibrous part . The fiber promotes and facilitates normal intestinal motility and regularity avoiding constipation phenomena. Experts recommend getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day . In fact, by eating 100 g of dried prunes per day (about 8-10 prunes) we provide the body with about a third of the recommended amount .
Plums: what are they
We are used to thinking that plums are the darkest ones, of a blue-violet or dark red color and with an elongated shape, while plums are the lighter ones, generally yellow or red and round in shape. And if we talk about the dried fruit, the difference appears clear: we are talking about prunes!
This distinction, in fact, there is a scientific reason or botany because it is the plum plums are the fruit of the plant species ” Prunus domestica L . “, Called” plum “but also called” pruno “.
Nutritional values of plums
Plums are fruits that have a balanced set of nutrients.
Also the presence of vitamins is not high: the presence of vitamin C and pro-vitamin A is scarce, as is the presence of vitamins of group B. On the other hand, the content of vitamin E and K is important .
Apart from vitamins, plums perform an important antioxidant function thanks to the generous presence of phenolic substances . Furthermore, they are also an excellent source of mineral salts , especially potassium , followed by copper , manganese, phosphorus and iron .
Finally, plums contain a lot of water and above all fiber which gives the product an effective laxative but also satiating power .
Plums or plums: the health benefits
Varietal differences aside, let’s see what are the benefits that plums, or plums, bring to our body and let’s deepen the difference between dry fruit and dried fruit.
Eating a good fiber content also determines:
- a decrease in the assimilation of nutrients
- a prolongation of the sense of satiety
- a prebiotic effect
- a reduction in post-meal plasma glycemic peak and an attenuation of insulin secretion.
- Prunes to counteract hyperglycemia
The consumption of prunes is a valuable aid to counteract hyperglycemia (high levels of glucose in the blood), one of the risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes .
Among other things, the glycemic index of plums and dried plums is very low (equal to 29), thanks to the presence of fiber and sorbitol (a natural sugar). In fact, sorbitol is not completely absorbed by the intestine (with a laxative effect) and does not require the intervention of insulin to be degraded , making it ideal for the nutrition of diabetics.
Beneficial against bad cholesterol
Also thanks to the fibers, prunes, both fresh and dried, help reduce the absorption of bad LDL cholesterol . The fibers in fact bind to bile acids and favor the expulsion of cholesterol through the faeces. Limiting the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries means avoiding the formation of dangerous plaques that cause narrowing of the vessels (arteriosclerosis), the main cause of heart attack , stroke and heart failure.
Ally against water retention
The high content of water and oligomineral substances make the plum a fruit capable of exercising a diuretic action , suitable for those suffering from water retention or hypertension .
In the latter case the diuretic action is combined with that exerted by potassium and magnesium .
- acts in the acid-base balance of the body
- allows the transmission of nerve impulses ensuring good muscle work
- regulates the heart rate
- fights excess sodium
- regulates the functionality of the kidneys and adrenal glands
- it rebalances body fluids by eliminating those in excess and thus generating a reduction in water retention, cellulite, as well as regulating blood pressure.
The antihypertensive effect is also guaranteed by the presence of magnesium . This mineral is essential for:
reduce blood pressure
- prevent the onset of arteriosclerosis
- stimulate the functionality of the muscular system and the nervous system
- the constitution of bones and teeth
- favor the absorption of vitamins and other mineral salts.
Help against osteoporosis
Recent scientific studies seem to attribute to prunes the ability to improve bone formation indices in postmenopausal women . Aside from drug therapy and lifestyle, nutritional factors also play an important role in maintaining skeletal health.
The components of plums that help keep our bones healthy are flavonoids and polyphenols which, together with potassium , promote bone development, improve density and prevent bone loss. Even the vitamin K and manganese interact in the process of maintaining healthy bones.
Recent research conducted by the University of Minnesota (Yang Y1 and Gallaher DD) has evaluated the positive effects of regular consumption of prunes on the intestinal microbiome and on specific disease states, from irritable bowel syndrome to the prevention of colon cancer . Prunes, in particular, appear to be a promising food for reducing the risk of colon cancer , thanks to their high content of dietary fiber and polyphenols .
Full of antioxidants
The plum has phenolic and flavonoid compounds and other antioxidant compounds that contribute to carrying out a valuable antioxidant activity , able to protect the body from oxidative damage due to the action of free radicals.
Also find out about Peaches health Benefits
If the intake of dietary fiber has positive effects on health, it is also true that the consumption of fiber is not recommended in the presence of particular pathological states, such as in the case of inflammation of the colon or gastritis or if you are following a poor diet. of fibers. Too abundant consumption of plums could cause diarrheal states and dysentery , in addition to all the side effects deriving from the intestinal fermentation of soluble fibers, i.e. meteorism and flatulence .
Many plant products, including plums, contain oxalates which, if consumed excessively, could cause problems for those suffering from kidney stone formation. A limited intake of plums, however, has no repercussions.
How to use
Plums, after purchase, must be consumed in the short term. They can also be kept in the refrigerator for relatively long periods (three / four weeks), but a lot depends on the variety and the degree of ripeness at the time of harvest.
Plums are an ideal snack at any time of the day: they are practical to carry, refreshing, satiating and gently help digestive regularity.
They can be preserved in many ways: the best known is the drying process or, better, dehydration . They can also be in syrup , prepared in jam , jelly, preserved in alcohol or candied . All these methods of conservation involve an increase in sugars : by concentration in the case of drying, by the quantities added in other preparations.
How to choose plums
At the time of purchase, plums often appear with the skin covered with a whitish substance . It is the bloom , a natural waxy substance that covers the skin of the fruit giving it a velvety, whitish and opaque appearance.
This substance is produced by the plant. It contains waxes and yeasts (such as waxy oleanolic acid) and is useful for the fruit because it prevents dehydration, as well as having antibacterial properties.
The plum must always have a uniformly smooth skin , never wrinkled.
To the touch it can have very different textures and dimensions between one variety and another.
Some cultivars produce fruits which, when physiologically ripe, have a soft surface because they are rich in juice. Instead, other cultivars produce fruits that are less rich in juice and, even if they have reached maturity, they are hard and with a firm and fleshy pulp.
Plums in the kitchen
Normally the plum is a fruit that is eaten fresh, alone or cut into a fruit salad or fruit skewers, to be enjoyed as a snack or snack.
In the kitchen, however, the versatility of plums also allows you to create imaginative and tasty recipes.
In fact, they can be used for the preparation of both sweet and savory dishes .
They are excellent as an ingredient in cakes, such as the classic plum tart, biscuits, creams (try the one with rum and almond plums), mousse and spoon desserts as well as for jams and jellies . Also perfect for blending to prepare delicious smoothies in combination with other fruits, such as oranges.
But with plums you can make interesting recipes of first courses , and especially sweet and sour dishes , in which the taste of the fruit goes to accompany particular salty flavors typical of goat cheeses and some meats, especially pork or duck, and cold cuts .
Among the recipes with plums, the sweet and sour pork loin is probably among the best known.
Plum-based is also a famous and traditional Polish dish, bigos , a stew of meat, cabbage and sauerkraut, with the addition of prunes and other spices.
With plum Dro PDO prepare the traditional Bohemian dumplings or plum , but this variety is also used to stuff meat, garnish cakes and pastries such as the upside-down cake, plums, prunes and the ciafoutis to crumble cake with plums.
Recipes with plums: 3 proposals
1 – Plum smoothie
Calories per person: 90 kcal
Ingredients for one person :
- 1 orange
- 1 celery (only the stalk)
- 2 fresh plums
- ginger to taste
Wash, dry and coarsely chop the fruit.
Put the pieces in the blender, add a pinch of grated ginger at the moment and blend everything.
Pour the smoothie into a glass, add ice according to your taste and, if you like, some fresh fruit for decoration.
2 – Fresh plum jam
Total calories: 1882 kcal
Ingredients for 750 g of preserves :
- 1 kg of fresh plums
- 350 g of white granulated sugar
- 1 sachet of pectin
Wash the plums well, dry them and remove the stones.
Cut them into small pieces. Place the plums cut in this way in a heavy-bottomed steel pan and add the sugar and pectin.
Cook the ingredients, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes. Only 3 minutes are indicated in the pectin package.
For me it takes more time, as I prefer more compact fruit jams.
If you do not like pieces of fruit or if you do not like the presence of peel residues, it will be sufficient to pass the mixture through a fine-meshed vegetable mill or blend all or part of the prunes with an immersion blender about halfway through cooking.
Pour the hot mixture into glass jars, seal them tightly and turn them upside down immediately. This process creates the vacuum in the jar and allows to extend the preservation of the jam
3 – Plum cake
Calories per person: 110 kcal / Total calories: 880 kcal
Ingredients for 8 people:
- 2 eggs
- 60 g of honey
- 70 g of wholemeal spelled flour
- 50 g of corn starch
- 1 jar of low-fat yogurt 0.1%
- 1/2 sachet of baking powder
- 2 very ripe plums
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1/2 lemon (zest)
- 1 pinch of salt
Caramelize the brown sugar in a small pan, heating it over low heat until it melts. Add the sliced plums and cook for a few minutes. In a bowl, whip the eggs with the honey, combine the low-fat yogurt and continue to whisk.
Gradually incorporate the flour and starch, baking powder, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and mix.
Place the plums on the bottom of a mold and pour the cake batter over them.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC for about 25 minutes.
Check the cooking by inserting a toothpick into the cake: if it is dry, the cake is ready.
Plums can be replaced with other seasonal fruits.
Plums or plums: botany
In nature, the plum tree is a plant belonging to the vast family of Rosaceae and to the genus Prunus (tribe of Prunoideae) and is represented by numerous botanical species of Asian, European and American origin , which differ in many respects from each other.
The main groups are two:
- ( Prunus domestica L. )
- The Prunus salicina . and Prunus simonii ).
The other species, of lesser commercial interest and not very widespread, are:
- the susini Syriacs ( Prunus insititia ) which include the groups of the oval and spherical damaschine, of Mirabelle and Sangiuliane
- the myrobalans ( Prunus cerasifera ), a species of spontaneous plum-cherry from Asia Minor and other wild species from both the Asian-European area ( Prunus spinosa, Prunus cocomilia , etc.) and the Sino-Japanese area, often used as material for the genetic improvement of the main varieties.
There are also native plum species in North America (e.g. Prunus americana, Prunus nigra, Prunus hortulana, Prunus subcordata ) and in the United Kingdom ( Prunus spinosa , sloe, Prunus domestica subsp. Damson , etc.), but these are not widely cultivated and constitute a local commercial niche.
The European plum tree
As regards the botanical aspects of the two main groups of plum trees, the European one is a tree that can reach 7-10 meters in height, with a tendentially upward habit. The trunk has a very dark, almost black bark with longitudinal cracks. The branches are vertical, erect, of a reddish-gray color. The leaves , deciduous, are dark green, rather thick and with a leathery and slightly hairy underside.
The flowers , which appear between the end of March and April, are ivory-white, generally self-fertile. The fruitsthey are drupes, with petioles of variable length, generally oblong-ovate in shape and of a color that varies from yellow, to red-violet, to blue-violet. The fruits are intended for both fresh consumption and drying . The pulp often detaches easily from the stone.
The Sino-Japanese plum tree
The Sino-Japanese plum tree can reach 8 meters in height, has a tendentially umbrella- shaped habit, with hanging branches and large, light green, lanceolate leaves with thin lamina. The flower buds are globular, with 3 white flowers each, self-compatible. The flowering occurs earlier than the European plum tree. The drupes grow in small groups on the branches. The shape changes from oblate to roundish-elliptical and the color varies from yellow to vinous red, to blue-black. The pulp is very adherent to the stone. The fruits are exclusively for fresh consumption.
Plums: the varieties
Plum trees are grown in many areas of the world, particularly in North America, Asia and Europe .
In Europe alone there are hundreds of varieties that produce fruits that vary in size and color: from yellow to dark purple, passing through yellow-green, red and various shades of purple.
The plum cultivars registered in the Variety Register of Fruit Plants of the Ministry of Agricultural Policies as of April 2019 relate to the two main groups:
- the European plum tree (Prunus domestica L.) with 261 varieties
- the Sino-Japanese plums (Prunus salicina L.) with 162 varieties.
There are therefore over 450 varieties registered . Each of these differs from the other in some aspect concerning the shape or color or the period of harvest.
The most commercially known varieties are:
- Anna Spath
- California Blue
- Regine Claudie
- Dragon’s blood
- Bianca from Milan
- Ozark Premier
- Ruth Gastetter
- Saint Peter
- Santa Rosa
- Real Plums
- Golden Drops (or Shiro)
- Blue Diamantine
Plums: historical notes
The origins of the species, although uncertain, seem to reside in south-east Asia .
The name “plum tree” probably derives from Susa , the name of an ancient Persian city. That area of geographical origin is also preserved in the name of a variety, damascena or damassina, precisely because it came from Syria, therefore from Damascus.
The first traces of European plum cultivation in the Mediterranean area date back to 150 BC , but these fruits were already known in Etruscan times.
The production of plums in the world
The production of plums affects many areas of the world. First of all, the Sino-Japanese area, followed by the ex-Yugoslav area of Montenegro and Serbia (second world producer) and the rest of Europe including Italy, and other areas such as Canada (Ontario) , South Africa and Israel .