The Benefits Of Prunes That Make Them Absolutely Irresistible
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Have you ever tried prunes? Just like raisins are dried grapes, prunes are nothing but dried plums. Prunes are packed with iron, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin K.
Have you ever tried prunes? Just like raisins are dried grapes, prunes are nothing but dried plums. Some people think of prunes as unsightly-looking, dried little things that old people munch on for no particular reason. There is no denying the fact that prunes are somewhat wrinkly, and look like purplish-black tiny lumps, but trust us, they taste like heaven. Not just that, they are loaded with countless health benefits. What is even more interesting is the fact that prunes are sun-dried plums that haven’t undergone the process of fermentation. Just like we have been consuming raisins for centuries in our country, prunes have been in use for over hundreds of years in the West, owing to their therapeutic benefits. Prunes have been a part of Western diets as an adjuvant natural remedy to aid in the treatment of high blood pressure, jaundice, constipation, and for healthy digestion. Prunes, much like peaches, are referred to as ‘freestone’, meaning that the large pit in the centre can stay intact through the drying process, and then be easily removed before packaging.
Owing to their exceptionally high fibre content, prunes are considered to be a superfood for people watching their weight, as well as for people with constipation and other digestive problems. Prunes are packed with iron, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are a powerhouse of antioxidants and flavonoids that fight ageing and boost overall health and wellbeing. Not only this, studies suggest that having a handful of prunes daily may help in keeping your bones healthy, improve digestion, and may prevent colon cancer. Read on to explore the impressive nutritional profile and amazing benefits that this delicious fruit has to offer!
Some amazing nutritional facts about prunes
Just like our good old raisins, not only do prunes offer that chewy sweetness and amazing versatility, but they are also packed with surprising nutrients. Some of the key nutrients that prunes offer are vitamin A, potassium, vitamin K, and beta carotene, along with a good amount of fibre. The drying process increases the fibre content, making prunes even healthier for consumption. Let us understand a bit more about the major healthy nutrients in prunes.
A single cup serving of prunes provides up to 36 per cent of the recommended daily intake (RDI). Potassium is crucial for maintaining a healthy chemical and electrolyte balance in the body, thereby lowering your risk of heart diseases, stroke, and also regulating your blood pressure. It also improves overall health, and optimises several other important body functions.
1 cup serving of prunes will give you up to 30 per cent of your daily vitamin K needs. Vitamin K is essential for preventing inflammation and osteoporosis, and helps in improving insulin sensitivity.
Although not a nutrient, fibre is essential for our wellbeing. A small cup serving of pitted prunes (170 grams) would provide you with around 12 grams of fibre, which is almost 50 per cent of your recommended daily allowance. But being relatively high in their fructose content (fruit sugar), it is best not to consume a cupful of prunes in a single sitting. Instead, you can have 6-7 prunes 3-4 times a day, to reap maximum benefits. Fibre is extremely crucial in ensuring that your food moves smoothly through your gut, thereby improving your digestion and preventing the risk of colon cancer. Also, studies have shown that having prunes regularly can help the colon retain good bacteria.
Other essential nutrients
In addition to these nutrients, prunes are abundantly rich in B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, manganese, and boron.
Eat your prunes in moderation:
- Although prunes are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre, it is essential that you consume prunes in moderation. This is because prunes are rich in simple sugars such as fructose.
- But despite this fact, studies suggest that eating prunes does not lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This may be attributed to their high fibre and sorbitol levels.
- Having said that, it is still important to keep a check on your intake, since prunes are high on fructose, just like most other fruits.
- One medium prune contains about 1.2 grams of fructose. If you have diabetes, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have high cholesterol, it is best to limit your intake and have prunes in moderation.
- Most nutritionists recommend limiting your fructose intake to a maximum of 15-25 grams a day from all combined sources, including fruits.
What do recent studies have to say about prunes?
As already discussed, prunes are packed with extremely health-beneficial nutrients. However, what brings them to the superfood list is how they relate to your body in terms of preventing diseases and keeping you healthy.
As per a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, "Prunes have been found to possess antioxidant, anticancer, anxiolytic, mild laxative, and cholesterol-lowering properties. Also, their role in prevention and treatment of osteoporosis has also been suggested in various clinical studies. Prunes are shown to confer positive effect on heart health owing to their impressive antioxidant profile, as well as high fibre and potassium content. These findings suggest that prunes provide a wide range of nutritional and medicinal uses and daily consumption can be beneficial in the treatment or prevention of different ailments".
The presence of flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants in prunes, like lutein and cryptoxanthin, help the body to get rid of free radicals and thereby, fight ageing. Free radicals are substances that are produced by various toxins that enter your body through your skin and the air you breathe, like pollution and the fumes from households as well as industries. Free radicals are also produced normally during metabolism.
As per reports published in Medical News Today, "Antioxidants, called polyphenols, could help in preventing cell mutation and lower the formation of cancerous cells in the body. Prunes were found to contain the highest variety of polyphenols when compared with other dried fruits, such as raisins, figs, and dates”.
Not only this, various world-renowned nutritionists and health experts have shown confidence in prunes as being foods that are highly efficient in improving bone density and in preventing osteoporosis. They have ranked prunes much higher than figs, dates, strawberries, and raisins, as far as boosting bone health is concerned.
Some more incredible health benefits of prunes
The amazing compounds in prunes provide countless other health benefits, other than the ones mentioned above. Here are some surprising additional benefits of prunes:
Prunes are excellent for heart health
Owing to their high potassium content, prunes improve heart health, and optimise heart functions and nerve responses throughout your body. A daily intake of potassium-rich foods helps keep your blood pressure in check, along with reducing your risk of heart diseases, heart attack, and stroke.
Prunes help prevent osteoporosis
Being a rich source of calcium and boron, prunes help prevent osteoporosis. Experts suggest that boron helps in regulating mineral metabolism and optimises oestrogen levels, which, in turn, increases calcium absorption. Boron also helps in converting vitamin D into its active form, which, in turn, helps the osteoblasts (bone-building cells) take up calcium for bone formation.
Prunes improve your skin and hair health
Being rich in an array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that aid in slowing down the signs of old age, prunes help in delaying signs of ageing such as sagging, wrinkle formation, and uneven skin tone. Also, the high iron content in prunes helps in preventing a deficiency that can show up in dry, discoloured hair, and even hair loss.
Prunes promote eye health
Prunes are a rich source of vitamin A, which is crucial for maintaining healthy eyesight. A deficiency of vitamin A could lead to macular degeneration, night blindness, dry eyes, and cataract.
Healthy ways to add prunes to your daily diet
Here are some healthy and efficient ways to include prunes in your daily diet:
- Cut prunes into small pieces and add them to green salads, or mix them with quinoa, coconut, almonds, and chopped walnuts for a delicious treat.
- Prunes are an excellent mid-day snack, and you can carry a handful to work everyday to cater to your afternoon binge craving.
- You could add 7-8 prunes to your breakfast smoothie and kick start your day on a healthy note.
- Or else, add prunes to your breakfast cereals, yoghurt, or milk shakes.
- You could use pitted prunes as a delicious topping for desserts, homemade breads, homemade ice cream, and other delicacies.
- Try adding a handful of prunes to savoury dishes such as chicken with rosemary and basil.
So go ahead and add these delicious, chewy, and super healthy dried fruits to your breakfast cereals, smoothies, salads, or healthy nut mixes, and reap the countless health benefits that they have to offer. Just make sure you choose good quality prunes that are unprocessed, unsweetened, and with no added flavours. Munch on to good health, and stay happy!