encourages us to shop for these fresh, fat-fighting Spring picks to help us trim down.
Sweet, juicy plums are loaded with soluble fiber, which swells up in the intestines and quickly dampens appetite. Enjoy two or three daily, and you could effortlessly cut your food intake by as much as 20 percent, say Yale researchers. An added perk: Plums contain neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids -- antioxidants that nourish eye tissues, helping to prevent macular degeneration (one of the leading causes of blindness nationwide), according to a study in the Korean Journal of Ophthalmology.
tells us that
- Wonderfully delicious and juicy plums are botanically belonging within the family of Rosaceae. The fruit is a drupe belonging to the genus: Prunus which also includes peaches, nectarine, almonds and damson. Scientific name: Prunus domestica.
- The plant is best described as small tree or large shrub and widely cultivated in the United States, Europe, Japan and China. Many cultivars of plums are grown all over the world, which differ in their color, size and growing characteristics based upon their country of origin. Generally, each variety of the plum trees bears numerous, almost uniform sized fruits between May and September months.
- Each berry is about the size of medium-sized tomato, measuring about 5-6 cm in diameter and weigh about 50-70 g. It has central depression at the stem side. Internally, the pulp is juicy and varies widely from creamy yellow, crimson, light-blue or light-green in color depending upon the cultivar type.
- There is centrally placed single, smooth but hard stone-like seed. Seeds are inedible.
- It has sweet and tart taste pulp with pleasant aroma. Some common cultivars of plums are: cherry plum, damson, blackthorn plum.
- Delicious, fleshy, succulent plums are low in calories (46 calories per 100 g) and contain no saturated fats; however, contain numerous health promoting compounds, minerals and vitamins.
- Certain health benefiting compounds present in the plum fruits, such as dietary fiber, sorbitol, and isatin are known to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system and thereby relieve constipation conditions.
- Total antioxidant strength of plums measured in terms of ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is 6259 Ámol TE/100 g. Fresh berries are a moderate source of vitamin C, which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.
- Fresh plums, especially yellow Mirabelle type, are a moderate source of vitamin A and beta carotene. Vitamin A is essential for good eye sight. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A has found to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- The fruit is also good in health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, cryptoxanthin and zea-xanthin in significant amounts. These compounds help act as scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV light-filtering functions.
- 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.
- In addition, the berries are moderate sources in B-complex groups of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help the body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They also provide about 5% RDA levels of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for many clotting factors function in the blood as well as in bone metabolism and help reduce Alzheimer's disease in the elderly.
- Plums are available year round, but they are at their best between May until September. In the store, look for fresh fruits featuring rich color and may still have a slight whitish "bloom," indicating that they have not been over handled. Avoid those ones with excessively soft, or with cuts or bruises. Ripen fruits yield to gentle pressure and feature a sweet aroma.
- Slightly hard mature plums can be kept at room temperature until they ripen. Ripe ones can be placed in the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before being eaten in order to enjoy their rich flavor. Dry plums called "prunes," can be stored at room temperature for few days.
- Wash plums in cold running water just before using. Fresh ripe plums should be enjoyed as a whole along with skin.
- Incise lengthwise deeply until the hard seed felt and then remove the seed. Skin may be peeled off using paring knife as in apples. However, its peel not Sonly provides good fiber content but also contains some health benefiting anti-oxidant pigments. Therefore, just wash the fruit and enjoy without discarding the skin. They can also be baked or stewed.
Some serving tips:
- Plum sections are a great addition to salads.
- The fruits are being used in the preparation of pie, desserts, jams and jellies.
- They can also be used in a variety of recipes and are usually baked or poached.
- Dried plums in general known as prunes are added to muffins, cakes, ice-creams, etc., as in other dry fruits like raisins, apricots and figs.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
- Plums contain oxalic acid, a naturally-occurring substance found in some fruits and vegetables, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. Therefore, people with known oxalate urinary tract stones are advised to avoid eating plums. Adequate intake of water is advised to maintain normal urine output even if these individuals want to eat them.
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Vanilla Poached Plums
1 large vanilla bean
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups unpeeled pitted plums, halved (about 1 lb)
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons margarine
1. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise.
2. Scrape seeds into a small bowl, discard bean (or place in a container of sugar for a very pleasant vanilla scented sugar) Add sugar, and stir well.
3. Place plums in a 1 quart baking dish, add sugar mixture and lemon juice, tossing gently to coat.
4. Dot with margarine, cover and bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes or until plums are tender, stirring once.
Nutritional info per serving:
Calories - 103.6
Total Fat - 2.1 g
Saturated Fat - 0.4 g
Cholesterol - 0.0 mg
Sodium - 22.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate - 22.0 g
Dietary Fibre - 1.1 g
Sugars - 20.7 g
Protein - 0.6 g
A low glycemic index food with a ranking of 39.