The Surprising Health Benefits of Prunes You Need to Know About
Chewy and sweet prunes are essentially plums that have been dehydrated for preservation. They can last up to six months in your pantry and provide versatility for just about any meal. Moreover, these are small power plants. Prunes have many different health benefits, from gastrointestinal health to bone preservation, modulation of the immune response, diabetes, atherosclerosis and satiety, says Shireen Hushmand, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at San Diego State University.
While this delicious dried fruit offers significant health benefits, be sure to check the ingredient lists and purchase varieties that only list prunes as the only ingredient (try to avoid options with added sugar or oils). Here’s everything you need to know about prunes and why they deserve a place in your grocery cart. The superpowers of prunes go far beyond the bathroom! Here are some reasons to start incorporating prunes in your diet:
May Support Bone Health: Dr. Hushmand has been conducting research on bone and prune health for the past 15 years. In a recent clinical study, Dr. Hushmand and her team found that postmenopausal osteopenic women who ate 5-6 prunes a day for six months effectively prevented bone loss. Previous research also found that eating 10-12 prunes a day for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density and improved bone turnover rates in postmenopausal women, she says. Additionally, Dr. Hushmand shares that interesting new animal research shows that prunes may help prevent bone loss in people exposed to radiation, such as astronauts in space.
May Promote Heart Health: A serving of prunes meets 11% of the daily value of fiber, which plays a role in lowering blood cholesterol. An initial study by the University of California-Davis found that men with moderately high cholesterol were able to lower both total and bad LDL cholesterol after consuming about 12 prunes daily.
Maintain healthy digestion: The fiber content of prunes may be related to their laxative effects, but scientists point to a combination of fiber, phenolic compounds, and sorbitol in prunes that is likely to help. Research confirms that prunes can significantly increase stool mass and frequency, making them a great natural alternative to healthy bowel function.
May have anti-inflammatory properties: Because prunes are rich in polyphenols, these antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and protect against DNA damage. Compared to fresh plums, prunes dried at 60 and 85 ° C may have higher antioxidant activity.
What about plum juice?
Unlike other fruit juices, the most popular brands of prune juice do contain a good source of fiber per serving. The warm juice of prunes itself has long been used as a natural remedy for constipation. In my opinion, drinking prune juice may be somewhat effective in terms of bone health, but we only have data from clinical trials that test the effects of whole prunes on bone health, says Dr. Hushmand.
How many prunes should you eat per day?
Dr Hushmand says the amount of prunes you should eat per day depends on the size of the prunes themselves, but current research recommends 50 grams of prunes per day, which equates to roughly 5-6 prunes. If you are not used to eating prunes or other fiber-rich foods, start slowly with 1-2 prunes a day and work up gradually. For people with low fiber diets, we recommend introducing prunes gradually, avoiding fasting prunes, and spreading their intake throughout the day, says Dr. Hushmand.
How to add prunes to your diet:
There are many different ways to eat prunes in your diet, from smoothies to salads and soups to savory meals for dinner. Prunes can even be used as a substitute for sugar and fat in baked goods, says Dr. Hushmand.
Enjoy this delicious dried fruit on its own or try it in different ways:
Use prunes along with your favorite nut variety in a healthy homemade tropical plant mix.
Add chopped prunes to oatmeal or yogurt as a filling.
Add prunes to stews or tagine for a sweet, savory flavor.
Add a couple of prunes to your morning smoothie.
Add chopped prunes to a salad with your favorite vegetables and vinaigrette.
Use prunes for natural sweetness and fibersss