Plum – Properties and Medicinal uses


The plum (Prunus domestica), Prune, or Greengage, is a fruit belonging to the botanical family Rosaceae. It is well-known for its numerous medicinal uses in reducing excess cholesterol, relieving constipation and aiding digestion, improving the cardiovascular health, boosting the immune system, and lots more.

The plum tree usually reaches a height of 5 meters. The fruit is an ovoid or round drupe, with a woody pit containing an inedible seed. There are actually many species of plum in the sub-genus “Prunus” that are found in different parts of the world, with Prunus domestica’s origin traced to the East European and Caucasian mountains. Prunus salicina andPrunus simonii are said to have originated from Asia.

Scientific namePrunus domestica
Common namePlum
Other namesPrune plum, Prune, Greengage, Damson, Satsuma plum, Mirabelle, Yellowgage, Victoria
ColourRanges from green, yellow, purple, red, to even black
OriginEast European and Caucasian mountain
Highlight of its Nutritional
value for major nutrients
per 100 g. Source:USDA
Energy – 46 kcal / Carbohydrates – 11.42 g / Sugars – 9.92 g / Dietary fiber – 1.4 g / Fat – 0.28 g / Protein – 0.7 g / Vitamin C – 9.5 mg / Vitamin E – 0.26 mg / Vitamin K – 6.4 μg / Calcium – 6 mg / Iron – 0.17 mg / Magnesium – 7 mg / Manganese – 0.052 mg / Phosphorus – 16 mg / Potassium – 157 mg / Sodium – 0 mg / Zinc – 0.1 mg


Properties of Plum

There are many varieties of plum, most of which are mainly differentiated by their natural coloring and their sugar content, although, they are all similar in composition. The table above shows some of the nutritional composition of this wonderful fruit. As we have seen, it contains very low fat content, just 0.28 gram / 100 grams. It also contain very little protein content, but contains significant amounts of carbohydrate, at 11.42 grams / 100 grams. Plum contains soluble vegetable fiber, mainly pectin. This fiber is about 1.5% in fresh plums, and can reach up to 7% in prunes (dried plums).

In terms of minerals, it contains Magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc, in small amounts but in balanced proportion. It’s potassium content is significantly high. For vitamins, it contains most in a balanced proportion, but in small amounts. A component worth mentioning which is found in plums is Dihydroxyphenylisatin, also called oxyphenisatin, which helps stimulate the peristaltic action of the intestine, thus, promoting the movement of feces.

Benefits and medicinal uses of Plum

Most of the health benefits of plums have been attributed to the phenolic compounds it contains. They include neocholorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid. Other health benefits arise from their rich nutritive components.

Elevated cholesterol

The soluble fiber content of plums, mainly pectin, reduces the cholesterol levels in humans as well as in animals. It does that by absorbing this cholesterol and biliary salts, which are then eliminated with the feces. A particular study carried out in men with mild hypercholesterolemia proved this effect of plum.


The presence of Dihydroxyphenylisatin and pectin, makes the plum an effective laxative. In addition to its laxative effect, it soothes and protects intestinal walls. A particular research carried out in the year 2011, proved the efficiency of prunes over psyllium in relieving constipation.

Prevents cancer

The regular consumption of plums or prunes, helps in the prevention of colon cancer. This is a scientific fact for years that believes soluble fiber in certain foods protects against colon cancer. Several studies have shown a component in plums, called epicatechin, which help stop the growth and proliferation of malignant cancer cells. Moreover, this fruit is rich in antioxidants, which helps fight free radicals capable of initiating cancerous growths.

A particular study conducted in 2009, has identified peach and plum polyphenols to have a chemopreventive effect against breast cancer.


Macular Degeneration

This eye condition is age related. It is the major cause of blindness in persons over the age of 65. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina in which the most visual acuity is concentrated. The deterioration of the macular initiates the defect, which translates when a person is having a compromised sight.

As cited by diethealthclub “research has shown that those who consume about three servings of plums regularly are able to prevent macular degeneration. The incidence of this disease in plum-eating populations has been reported as 36% lower than the general population”.

Chronic disorders

The following characteristics of plums make them suitable in cases of arteriosclerosis, excess uric acid, rheumatism and arthrosis, gout and liver diseases :
* Depurant
* Diuretic
* Detoxifying property
* Low protein, sodium and fat content.

Other indications include:

  • Blood clotting
  • Skin care
  • Treats influenza (see study)
  • Useful for pregnant women
  • Reduces anxiety (see research)
  • Aids weight loss
  • Boost immunity
  • Prevent osteoporosis
  • Controls diabetes (see study)
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By Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!

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