Prunes are all crinkled and wrinkly, certainly not the prettiest fruit to look at. Sadly, most people think they’re only good for relieving constipation. Not the kind of image most fruits want for themselves. On the other hand, prunes have much to be proud of from a nutritional standpoint. The unassuming little fruit with the wrinkly face is a healthy addition to any diet. Here are the five powerful health benefits prunes offer.
The Health Benefits of Fruits: They’re Good for the Bones
Prunes – good for your bones? Yes! Animal studies show that eating prunes reverses bone loss. Research is currently looking at whether prunes can do the same in postmenopausal women. In one study, one group of women ate 100 grams of prunes (about ten) each day while the other group ate a similar quantity of dried apples. The prune group had higher bone density. According to researchers, prunes may help prevent bone breakdown.
Is Eating Prunes Heart Healthy?
Prunes are high in both fiber and pectin which helps to lower cholesterol levels. Studies in mice show eating prunes reduces progression of atherosclerosis – a condition that increases the risk of heart attack. Prunes are also a good source of potassium, which helps to regulate blood pressure. More good news for the fruit with the funny, wrinkly face. Prunes really do deserve more respect.
Nutritional Benefits of Prunes
Prunes are a good source of vitamin A – a vitamin that’s important for healthy vision and that may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. People who are deficient in vitamin A are prone to night blindness and dry eyes.
Prunes are also a good source of B6 – a vitamin that promotes healthy brain function and may relieve the symptoms of depression. Plus, they’re a good source of the mineral iron which is needed for healthy red blood cells.
Health Benefits of Prunes: Antioxidant Power
Blueberries may be high on the antioxidant scale – but prunes are even higher. Prunes are a surprisingly good source of cell-protective antioxidants. Antioxidants help offset the natural oxidative damage that cells undergo every day. These cell protective compounds may have an impact on brain aging since antioxidants help protect brain cells against damage. The compounds in prunes that give them their antioxidant activity are called phenolics.
The Best Known Health Benefit of Prunes
Of course, prunes also help to promote intestinal health by giving sluggish bowels a boost and reducing the risk of constipation. All it takes is a few prunes a day.
What to Do With Prunes?
Enjoy the health benefits of prunes by chopping them into fine pieces and adding them to hot or cold cereal. Add prune bits to brownies, quick breads and homemade trail mix. Add bits of prune to cookie dough and muffin batter in place of raisins. Use bits of prune as a pizza topping or in chicken salad in place of raisin. Anywhere you would use raisin, plum bits are a tasty substitute. Did you know prunes have twice the antioxidant activity of raisins? That’s why they’re a great substitution!
The Bottom Line?
Eating prunes have its benefits, but don’t overdo it. They’re high in natural sugar, so too many may not be good for people watching their carbohydrate intake. Eat them in moderation and enjoy the benefits.
Science Daily. “No bones about it: Eating dried plums helps prevent fractures and osteoporosis, study suggests”
Pharmaceutical Online. “Prunes Score Highest in Antioxidants That May Slow Aging Process”