Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach and almond. Its pulp is juicy, succulent and vary widely from creamy yellow, crimson, light-blue or light-green in color depending up on the cultivar type. There are more than 2 000 varieties of plum cultivated throughout the world. Plums are classified into six general categories—Japanese, American, Damson, Ornamental, Wild and European/Garden—the size, shape and colors vary.
Plum and health benefits
Fresh plums, especially yellow Mirabelle type, are a moderate source of vitamin A and beta-carotene. Plum moderate source of vitamin C which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Plums are plentiful in minerals like potassium, fluoride and iron. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Plum moderate sources in B-complex groups of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins acts as cofactors help the body metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats. They also provide some levels of vitamin K. The high potassium content in the fruit is important also because potassium is involved in the transmission of nerve signals, maintains the water balance of the cell and reduces the likelihood of the cancer cells in the body. Plums useful for rheumatism and diseases associated with disturbances in metabolism, lotions and herbal teas from the dried or fresh leaves of plum trees have wound healing properties.
Plum and folk medicine
Plum is known for thousands of years in China for the treatment of gastroenteritis. Plum juice (preserved with salt for several months or years) is used for treatment of fever and dysentery. Folk medicine recommends the fruits of plums as a remedy for diseases of the throat and cough. The fruits are used as an expectorant in diseases of the upper respiratory tract. Compote of dried plums improve appetite, has a beneficial effect on digestion, useful in gastritis with low acidity of gastric juice, and broth has a laxative effect. From the seed of the plum receive oil, which is identical in composition with almond. Oil plum is used in the manufacture of medical soap.
Plum and dietary
Plums are low in calories (46 calories per 100 g) and contain no saturated fats however they hold numerous health promoting compounds, minerals, and vitamins. Plums are easy to digest and contribute to the treatment of diseases caused by excessive production of bile or excessively high internal heat. Plums strengthen the liver, have a positive effect on the blood and purify the blood, expelling toxins from the body.
Plum and presence
The European plum is thought to have been discovered around two thousand years ago, originating in the area near the Caspian Sea. Even in ancient Roman times, there were already over 300 varieties of European plums. While Japanese plums actually originated in China, they derived their name from the country where much of their cultivation and development occurred. Although usually round, plums can also be oval or heart-shaped. The skins of plums can be red, purple, blue-black, red, green, yellow or amber, while their flesh comes in hues such as yellow, green and pink and orange. Today, the United States, Russia, China and Romania are among the main producers of commercially grown plums.
Plum and allergy, safety concerns
Plum may induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is the most often reported symptom to plum. Like many other allergies to fresh fruits and vegetables, plum allergy can take two different forms. In the North of Europe, people with birch-pollen allergy can develop a plum allergy due to the similarity between a protein in birch that causes birch-pollen allergy, and a plum protein. In Mediterranean countries, people with plum allergy do not have birch-pollen allergy. Instead they often have allergy to peach. Fruit-pollen syndrome, as its also called, is far less dangerous than food allergies to milk, eggs, wheat products, or peanuts.
Safety consern to selecting dried prunes/plums, always try to purchase natural, those that have not been dried with any type of sulphurs. Many health food stores and conventional grocers are now carrying plums that are not dried and preserved with chemicals.
Plum and foods
Plums are popular as a dessert fruit and are often eaten out of hand, as well as in pastries and preserves. However, the fruit is most readily available dried, under the name ‘prunes’, which are legendary as a laxative. Plum sections are a great addition to salads. The fruits are being used in the preparation of pie, desserts, jams and jellies. Prunes can be added to muffins, cakes, ice-creams as in other dry fruits like raisins, apricots and figs. The Hungarian Palinka beverage is commonly made from the fermentation of plums, the traditional double distillation process results in a strong alcohol content of 40 to 70 percent.
Plum and cosmetics
Plum is seen positively by consumers as a healthy and "clean" fruit. Cosmetic companies capitalise on the positive image of the plum as a natural fruit and exploit its agreeable fragrance and emollient, antioxidant properties. Used in lip balms formulas , plum oil re-hydrate lips and add suppleness and volume. In moisturizing creams, its emollient properties bring nourishment and hydration to damaged skins. With shampoos, pum kernel oil imparts a desirable sheen to the hair and acts as an oil and water emulsifier.
Plum and decoration
As many other fruits plum is also favorite still-life theme in fine arts. Perhaps because of the size, shape and color of the fruit often appear on oil paintings alone or just accompany of objects. A harmonic still-life with plum could be ornate your dining room. Image via Pinterest.
Plum and festival
Plum blossom is the city flower of Nanjing, Municipal Government has held Nanjing International Plum Blossom Festival at Plum Blossom Hill, which is located in the Zhongshan Mountain Scenic Area each year. Now the festival has become a state-level tourism event renowned at home and abroad. Many blossom themed activities are held during February and March, which attract millions of visitors. More information here.
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