Sugar plums are not just for dreams and holiday carols. Plums come in all shapes, colors, and flavors. But as with all fruits and other fresh produce, many women wonder whether there are any special considerations in order to enjoy them safely while pregnant.
Plums are not only tasty but safe to eat while pregnant. Beyond flavor, this small fruit has other health benefits ranging from vitamins and minerals to the potential for supporting a baby’s bone development in utero.
Plums might be safe and nutritious during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean there is any shortage of confusion and misinformation online. I’ll break down the science behind these claims, as well as discuss the ins and outs of less common plum varieties too.
Are Plums Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
A quick internet search to learn how safe plums are throughout pregnancy can leave you with more questions than answers. While some sources happily report that plums are completely safe, others say otherwise.
The main reason that many of these blogs suggest limiting plums during pregnancy is for kidney health. Plums of all varieties contain oxalate, which is known to cause certain types of kidney stones.
Though it is true that plums contain oxalate, and that oxalate can be the source of kidney stones in some folks, eating oxalate is not a concern for most people (source: Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
Unless your doctor has given you instructions to avoid oxalate-containing foods, it is unlikely that enjoying fresh plums or other foods with oxalates will cause any issues with your kidney health and avoiding them is unnecessary for most women.
Plums (of all varieties) do not contain any other nutrients of concern. The small, sweet fruit is safe to enjoy throughout pregnancy with a few of the basic considerations.
Typically, fresh plums are eaten without peeling. For this reason, it is especially important to thoroughly wash the fruit before taking a bite. Similar to other fresh fruits and vegetables, even if you do decide to peel your plums before eating, washing is still important to protect against cross-contamination and foodborne illness.
Additionally, there are some alcoholic plum dishes. Ripe plums can be fermented into a sweet fruit wine, which is obviously alcoholic. Certain traditional Christmas fruit cakes or plum cakes also contain alcohol, with either the whole cake or the dried fruits left to soap in a boozy mixture.
Since no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, it is best to opt for non-alcoholic versions of these holiday treats. If you are baking at home, many recipes include alcohol-free swaps. You can also try soaking the dried fruits in fresh fruit juice for a virgin treat.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Dried Plums (Prunes)?
You may remember your grandmother eating dried plums, better known as prunes, to stay regular in the bathroom. The magic prunes work on your gut is another but an old wives’ tale. Studies have shown that eating prunes is effective at relieving constipation (source: Clinical Nutrition).
Prunes are not only safe during pregnancy, but can aid in relieving pregnancy-related constipation (source: Johns Hopkins). If you are looking to get things moving in the bathroom, there are two different ways to use this dried fruit to your advantage. Eating a couple of prunes or drinking about 4 ounces of prune juice may help.
Are Plums Good for Pregnant Women? The Benefits Explained
Small but mighty, plums have more health benefits aside from relieving constipation.
Plums work to decrease constipation because of their fiber content. Each plum contains around 1 gram of fiber, which also helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied and maintain steady blood sugar (source: USDA).
Meeting your daily potassium needs can reduce leg cramping, which is common throughout pregnancy. A single plum meets 3% of your daily potassium needs, making this small fruit a great way to stave off leg pains (source: USDA).
Their red outer skins are also rich in antioxidants, which play a role in decreasing inflammation, blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases.
Interestingly, pregnant mice who were given plum extract during their pregnancies gave birth to pups who had built more bone during gestation (source: Medical Principles and Practice).
While this has yet to be studied in humans, bone development is an important part of later pregnancy, as many babies who are born early require supplements to improve their bone density.
Types of Plums During Pregnancy
Aside from the color of their skin and flesh, when it comes to most of the plum varieties you can find in local grocery stores there is not much difference in nutrition. While some plums may have red skin, others have a deeper hued blue-black outer layer. But what about other, less common plum varieties?
Black plums- Also called java plums or Malabar plums, black plums differ from the ones you might find in local shops. These plums are more oval in shape but are not all too different nutritionally. Just like red plums, black plums are safe to eat while pregnant.
Dried, salted or sour plums- Umeboshi, which are dried and salted plums have a unique sour taste. They are made by a salt pickling process, which cures the plums. Being a pickled food, it is important to ensure you are buying only pasteurized sour plums, to ensure safety.
This snack also tends to be quite salty, due to the brining process so they are best enjoyed in moderation.
For more details on the safety of other pickled foods and how to safely pickle at home during pregnancy, check out our pickled foods article.
Loquat- Otherwise known as Japanese plums, loquats look the most different from other plum varieties. These plums are a signature orangey-yellow color and also differ slightly in their nutrient content.
Though the nutrition of loquats is quite similar to other plums, they do contain small amounts of the important pregnancy nutrient folate, but not enough to replace that from a prenatal vitamin.
Plums aren’t just eaten on their own. There are plenty of plum cakes, desserts, jams, and jellies. All of these plum delicacies are also likely safe, save for baked goods also made with alcohol.
What Does Craving Plums During Pregnancy Mean?
Some women report cravings for plums during their pregnancies and wonder if this craving might mean something more.
Cravings for plums, among other fruits and sweets, has long been thought to mean that you’re carrying a girl!
Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to connect cravings to your baby’s gender. Though plum cravings might not tell you much about your unborn baby, guessing can still be fun! What’s more, since eating plums is safe during pregnancy, so is satisfying your plum cravings.
Small, yet packed full of nutrition and other pregnancy-related benefits, all varieties of plums can make a great addition to your pregnancy diet. Hopefully, this article has cleared up some of the confusion surrounding plums and how they can impact pregnancy.