Prunes are sweet, chewy fruits that contain an impressive array of nutrients. They are also known as dried plums, and most people know that they can help to treat constipation. However, they are also capable of positively influencing many other parts of your body. Read on to discover ten compelling reasons to regularly eat more prunes.
1. Keep Blood Sugar Under Control
The soluble fibre in prunes slows the movement of food from the stomach to the intestines and slows the rate at which glucose is absorbed from food. These traits help to keep blood sugar within healthy limits, and the soluble fibre in prunes may even help to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (by increasing insulin sensitivity).
2. Improve Bone Health
Researchers at Florida State University have discovered that eating prunes appear to reverse osteoporosis in older women. Specifically, women who ate 100g of prunes each day were found to have significantly improved bone markers after just three months. It is suspected that this health benefit comes from the fact that prunes provide you with boron, which studies show is linked to a reduced likelihood of osteoporosis and brittle bones. It is also worth noting that the potassium in prunes may encourage improvements in bone health as well.
3. Lower Cholesterol Levels
The antioxidants in prunes help to prevent damage from dangerous free radicals, and so they prevent as much bad cholesterol from sticking to the walls of your blood vessels. This reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Further, the soluble fibre in prunes binds to bile acids and allows them to be excreted in bowel movements. This results in lower cholesterol levels as well, as the liver must use up cholesterol in order to produce new bile acids.
4. Boost Energy
Prunes provide you with copper, and copper encourages the body to metabolize and use carbohydrates. This produces plenty of energy, so prunes are an ideal snack if you are tired or tend to suffer from slumps between meals.
5. Protection against Cancer
A study on over 50,000 postmenopausal women revealed that the ones who ate the most prunes (and other fibre-rich foods) were 34% less likely to develop any form of breast cancer. On a more general note, scientists at Tufts University have recently discovered that prunes have a higher antioxidant capacity than any other food. This means that they may help to reduce your risk of developing cancer, as some studies support the claim that antioxidants can help to prevent DNA damage that can lead to cancer when damaged cells multiply out of control. Prunes have this excellent nutritional property because they contain high levels of hydroxycinnamic acids and anthocyanins.
6. Prevent Damage to Fats
Prunes contain phytonutrients called phenols, and these have repeatedly been proven to effectively reduce the degree of oxygen-based damage to fats. While the benefit of this may not be immediately obvious, consider that our brain cells and cell membranes are primarily made up of fats. As a result, it is highly significant that prunes can reduce the likelihood of damage to these important building blocks of the body.
7. Lose Weight
The amount of fibre found in prunes means that eating prunes can help you to feel full and satisfied for a long time after eating. When you feel full, you are discouraged from overeating or excessively snacking between meals.
8. Healthy Digestive System
Prunes help the good bacteria in your digestive system to thrive so that the types of bacteria that can cause disease do not dominate your digestive system. This is because good bacteria are sustained by the fibre in prunes.
9. Iron Absorption
Prunes encourage your body to absorb more iron, and you need iron in order to manufacture haemoglobin (which is responsible for carrying oxygen to all of your cells).
10. Treat Constipation
If you are extremely constipated, prunes can help to alleviate your discomfort. This is because prunes are extremely high in fibre, which makes your bowel movements softer and bulkier. This fact about prunes also makes them capable of assisting your body’s natural detoxification processes, encouraging old waste to be evacuated from the colon. In addition, prunes contain one gram of the carbohydrate sorbitol, which causes diarrhoea in large quantities. The relatively small dose found in prunes provides your colon with just enough stimulation in order to help ease constipation without causing diarrhoea.
As is obvious from the above health benefits, prunes are a great choice if you want to increase your daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Given that prunes are dried fruits, they are available all year round. They taste delicious when mixed with nuts or dried apricots, and they should be stored in a cool and dry location.