Special to CSMS Magazine
There are few fruits that come in such a panorama of colors as the juicy sweet tasting plum. Plums belong to the Prunes genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered “drupes” fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. According to the Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the unique things about plums is that there are so many varieties available. Not only do over 2,000 varieties of plums exist, but over 100 are available in the United States alone. With the large number of plums available, it is not surprising that the various types have different heritages and places of origin.
The ability of plum to increase assimilation of iron into the body has also been documented in published research. This ability of plum to make iron more available may be related to the vitamin C content of this fruit. Vitamin C is needed in the body to make healthy tissue and is also needed for a strong immune system. Vitamin C also helps to protect cholesterol from becoming oxidized by free radicals. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicate that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
If you want to purchase plums that are ripe and ready to eat, look for ones that yield to gentle pressure and that are a little soft at their tip. While you can also purchase plums that are rigid and grow them at home, avoid those that are excessively hard as they will be immature and will probably not develop a good taste. Good quality plums will feature a rich color and may still have a slight whitish “bloom,” reflecting that they have not been over handled. They should also be free of punctures, bruises or any signs of decay. Plums are generally available in the marketplace from May through the early fall.
Plums are delicious and eaten as is. If the plums have been in the refrigerator, allow them to approach room temperature before eating them as this will help them attain the maximum juiciness and sweetness. Plums can also be used in a variety of recipes and are usually baked or poached.
Note: Isgaelle Isma is a freshman at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. She wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine.