Dried plums contain many nutrients and non-nutritive substances known as phytochemicals, some of which function as antioxidants and contribute to health.
View the Nutrient Profile table for the nutrient content per serving of about five dried plums (40 grams).
Oxidative stress is associated with the development of many chronic diseases. Free radicals are unpaired, unstable electrons that can begin certain disease processes when they bombard healthy cells seeking a mate to become “stable. The body has its own system to eliminate free radicals, but exposure to free radicals from external sources (e.g., pollutants and cigarette smoke) also can occur. Additional resources are needed to work against the oxidative effects of these free-roaming molecules, hence the term “antioxidant.
Dried fruit with antioxidants and various vegetables provide many antioxidant nutrients (vitamins C and E and carotenoids) and non-nutritive antioxidants (polyphenolic compounds). Phenolic compounds contribute to a food’s color, taste, bitterness and other sensory flavors and are thought to be responsible for a major portion of the antioxidant capacity in plant-based foods. Research at the University of California, Davis, identified and quantified the phenolic compounds in dried plums, mainly neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids. Phenolic compounds have been associated with lowered incidence of heart disease by protecting low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad" cholesterol) from oxidation.
View chart of the Phenolic Composition of Dried Plums.
The role of phytochemicals, including phenolic compounds, is a hot topic of consumer interest and nutrition research. A healthy diet will include a wide range of these compounds to provide maximum protection against disease.
There are different methods to measure the antioxidant capacity of foods, including the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) assay. You often see foods listed by antioxidant capacity to help identify major sources of antioxidants in a diet. When comparing values, be sure to compare the foods as commonly eaten and in a standard portion size, such as in weight (grams) or measurement (cup). According to research published in 2004, the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of ½ cup (85 grams) of dried plums is 7,291.
Carbohydrates and Sugars
A serving of five dried plums provides 26 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of sugars, mainly glucose (10 grams) and fructose (5 grams. There is almost no sucrose. These sugars are "naturally occurring". There is no added sugar to dried plums. In addition, a serving of dried plums also contains about 15 grams of the sugar alcohol sorbitol.
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate found only in plant foods that cannot be broken down by our digestive enzymes. There are two types of dietary fiber—soluble and insoluble—with different effects on our health. Dried plums provide both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. About 60 percent of the dietary fiber in dried plums is pectin, a type of soluble fiber that may lower blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber works mainly in the large intestine (the colon), acting like a sponge and drawing in more water. This results in less pressure on the walls of the colon and a softer stool that is eliminated more quickly.
Fiber-containing foods provide an array of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and complex carbohydrates that have a positive effect on our health. Working together, these nutrients may help to lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and regulate blood-sugar levels. Increase your daily intake of dietary fiber with tasty and versatile dried plums.
Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)
Carbohydrates in the past have been classified based on their chemical makeup. Recently, a physiologic measure of carbohydrate quality has been developed as a measure of the impact carbohydrate foods have on the ability to raise blood glucose (sugar) levels. Many factors can affect the rise in blood glucose levels, such as the size of the meal, other foods eaten in the meal, the amount of fat and protein in the meal, as well as the individual’s overall health status. Research continues on the benefits of consuming diets with a low glycemic load (GL) in preventing and managing conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity.
The glycemic index (GI) measures, over a two-hour period, an individual’s response to eating a carbohydrate-containing food (usually 50 grams of available carbohydrates) compared to the individual’s response to the same amount of carbohydrates from either white bread or glucose. Carbohydrate foods are then classified as high (above 70), intermediate (56–69), or low (0–55) GI (classification by researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia).
The glycemic load of food is determined by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrates per serving and then dividing by 100. The GI of California Dried Plums is 29, and the GL per 60-gram serving is 10 based on research published by the University of Sydney, Australia. Dried plums are therefore a low GI food.
View examples of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values for Selected Foods.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and California Dried Plums
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 seek to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. The Guidelines:
- Focus on the need to balance calories (food) with calories out (physical activity) to curb obesity.
- Encourage more nutrient-dense and healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and 1% milk, seafood, and lean sources of protein to provide shortfall nutrients such as fiber, potassium, calcium and vitamin D.
- Recommend foods with less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains to lower the risk of chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. The Guidelines recommend a daily sodium intake less than 2,300 milligrams (mg). For those 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, 1,500 mg of sodium is recommended.
Here are some tips to meet the Dietary Guidelines. More information can be found on the website: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm.
- Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
- Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
- Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
- Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
- Choose a variety of protein foods – including seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
- Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.
- Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
- Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.
Make California Dried Plums Your Fruit Choice
- Dried plums are a convenient, economical fruit – a pantry staple because they resist spoilage and require no refrigeration.
- Dried plums can help overcome the shortfall of needed nutrients and foods. One serving (about 5 dried plums) has 3 grams of fiber, 293 mg of potassium, and 16 mg of magnesium, all for less than 100 calories.
- Dried plums have a consistent, satisfying sweet taste with no added sugar. Dried plums are unique in their sugar content; containing fructose and glucose but almost no sucrose. All these sugars are naturally occurring – there are no added sugars in dried plums. Dried plums also contain sorbitol – a sugar alcohol - which is non-cariogenic.
- Dried plums can help manage weight. Dried plum as a snack suppressed appetite relative to low fat cookies, perhaps by producing lower glucose and/or appetite-regulating hormone concentrations. Dried fruit consumption, as little as 1/8 cup a day, is associated with reduced overweight or obesity, specifically abdominal obesity, in adults.
- Dried plums promote heart health. Dried plums reduce LDL cholesterol in both animals and humans. The equivalent of eating 10-12 per day reduced atherosclerotic lesions in a strain of mice that develop atherosclerosis quickly.
- Dried plums promote bone health. Dried plums are rich in phenolic compounds, which may inhibit bone resorption and stimulate bone formation as well as function as antioxidants. Dried plums are also a good source of nutrients reported to influence bone health, including boron, potassium and vitamin K.
- Dried plums promote digestive health. Although moderate consumption of dried plums has been shown to have no undesirable changes in bowel function, research determined that dried plums are safe, palatable and more effective than psyllium for the treatment of mild to moderate constipation, and should be considered as first line therapy.
See the Health Professional/Research/Abstract section for more information.