Prunes are all crinkled and wrinkled (not the prettiest fruit on the fruit stand), but don’t let their appearance deceive you. Prunes have surprising health benefits that go beyond relieving constipation.
Constipation reliever is an image most fruits would rather not have. But don’t underestimate the prune. This fruit, which is a shriveled, dry plum, is more versatile than you think. Prunes have much to offer in terms of nutritional value. With a wrinkled face and unassuming appearance, the little fruit is a nutritious addition to any diet.
Let’s look at the health benefits prunes offer, and why you should give them a second glance and even consider adding them to your shopping cart.
Prunes May Benefit Your Bones
Could prunes be beneficial for the health of your bones? Surprisingly, there’s evidence they can. Research shows prunes reverse bone loss in animals. Researchers are now investigating whether prunes can accomplish the same in postmenopausal women.
Studies on humans are still limited. In one study, a group of women ate ten prunes per day, while the other consumed dried apples in a similar amount, as a placebo. Then, the researchers looked at how their respective snacks impacted bone health. Those who ate prunes had higher bone density.
Although more research is needed, prunes may help protect against bone loss and osteoporosis, although the amount you must eat would be daunting for some. Downside: In mouse studies, prunes made up 25% of the total diet of the mice. So, you might have to eat a lot of prunes to get the full bone health benefits. But can lesser amounts have some bone health benefits? Possibly. It’s an area that needs more research.
Is Eating Prunes Heart Healthy?
Prunes are high in both fiber and pectin, both of which contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. That’s important since research shows most people in Western countries get about half the amount of fiber experts recommend for health.
A study in mice shows that eating prunes decreased the progression of atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the inner walls of arteries. When plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the heart, it increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Prunes are also an excellent source of potassium, which helps with blood pressure control. Getting enough potassium is essential to counter the effects of a high-sodium diet.
This is great news for the fruit with the wrinkled face. The prune deserves more respect. Do you agree?
Nutritional Benefits of Prunes
Prunes and prune juice are excellent sources of vitamin A, a vitamin that helps maintain healthy vision. A vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness and dry eyes. Vitamin A deficiency isn’t common in developed countries, but it’s still the leading cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide. Dry eye becomes more common with age and although it doesn’t cause blindness, it’s uncomfortable and tends to be chronic.
Furthermore, prunes contain B6 – a vitamin that promotes healthy brain function. Studies link low vitamin B6 with a higher risk of depression and anxiety. Additionally, prunes are an excellent source of iron, an essential mineral for maintaining healthy red blood cells and their ability to carry oxygen to tissues throughout your body.
Health Benefits of Prunes: Antioxidant Power
Blueberries earn accolades because they’re high in antioxidants, but prunes rank even higher in antioxidant power. Prunes provide surprising protection against oxidative stress. Every day, cells undergo oxidative damage that antioxidants help counteract. As antioxidants protect brain cells from damage, these compounds may be involved in brain aging. Phytochemicals, which give prunes their antioxidant ability, are called phenolics. One study found that prunes contain greater quantities of phenolics than most other common fruits.
The Best-Known Health Benefit of Prunes
By giving sluggish bowels a boost and reducing the risk of constipation, prunes also promote intestinal health. All you need is a few prunes a day to lower your risk of constipation. The constipation preventive effects of prunes come from the sorbitol they contain. Sorbitol is a fruit sugar that increases the frequency of bowel movements. That’s why you shouldn’t eat too many until you know how your intestinal tract handles them.
What to Do with Prunes?
You can enjoy the health benefits of prunes by finely chopping them and adding them to hot or cold cereal. You can also add prune bits to brownies, quick breads, and trail mix. Put away the raisins and use prunes in place of raisins in cookie and muffin mixes. You can substitute prunes for raisins in chicken salad or as a topping on pizza. Whenever you would use raisins, plum bits work well. Did you know that prunes have twice as much antioxidant activity as raisins? That’s why they’re a satisfactory substitute for raisins!
The Bottom Line?
You can benefit from eating prunes, but don’t overdo it. Because they’re high in natural sugar, they may not be the best choice if you’re watching your carbohydrate intake. So, enjoy them in moderation and reap the health rewards of this underappreciated fruit. They may not be the most attractive fruit at the supermarket, but they have a lot of good qualities.
- “What Is Vitamin A Deficiency? – American Academy of ….” 22 Oct. 2020, .aao.org/eye-health/diseases/vitamin-deficiency.
- Kafeshani M, Feizi A, Esmaillzadeh A, Keshteli AH, Afshar H, Roohafza H, Adibi P. Higher vitamin B6 intake is associated with lower depression and anxiety risk in women but not in men: A large cross-sectional study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2020 Oct;90(5-6):484-492. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000589. Epub 2019 Jun 11. PMID: 31188081.
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- “Prunes: Are There Health Benefits? Pros and Cons ….” .webmd.com/diet/prunes-health-benefits.