Many of us only think of prunes if we need help with bathroom-related issues, but these dried plums have so much more to offer! Let’s get to know this superfood known as prunes.
BY: LEAH BLACK, RD
Prunes may be more commonly know for their role in relieving GI discomfort, but new research is aiming to give prunes a new reputation for their ability to prevent and even reverse bone loss.
Prunes, also known as dried plums, are chewy and naturally sweet in flavor. Prunes can be used in a variety of ways such as whole, juiced, pureed, in a paste, concentrated, or diced. They add a versatile accent flavor to many culinary dishes, and can add nutrients and moisture to baked goods without losing flavor.
Dried plums really are the whole package. Not only are they packed with nutrient-dense compounds, but they also play key roles in bone health, heart health, satiety, and digestive health. Dried plums have a high phenolic content and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), which have been shown to protect or even reverse bone loss. They also contain vital nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, boron, potassium, and vitamin K. Let’s find out more:
4-5 prunes (~ 100 calories) is estimated to provides 19% of your daily value of vitamin K, a key nutrient in maintaining bone health. Research shows that individuals who consume 50g or 5-6 prunes per day along with 500mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D for one year have greater bone mineral density. Prunes are also rich in polyphenols, which act as free radical scavengers that may help suppress the rate of bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Dried plums can help manage your weight by keeping you full longer as well as helping individuals with diabetes and cardiovascular related diseases. Despite their sweet and luxurious flavor, dried plums have shown minimal rises in blood glucose and insulin.
Keeps Your Body Moving
Prunes are naturally high in potassium, an electrolyte that helps with digestion, heart rhythm, nerve impulses, and muscle contraction. They, of course, are also known for their ability to relieve constipation due to their high fiber content.
May Prevent Colon Cancer
Dried plum’s fiber content may play a role in the prevention of colon cancer. Studies in rats have shown that colon cancer risk is reduced through the retention of beneficial bacteria. The metabolites and phenolic compounds present in dried plums are also emerging as potential antibacterial agents in both the gastrointestinal and urinary tract.
Not sure how to incorporate prunes in your life? Here are a few ways to get more of them in your diet:
- Eat them alone as a snack
- Add diced prunes to oatmeal
- Make your own trail mix
- Add to baked goods (puree)
- Blend prunes into your smoothie for a naturally sweet and rich flavor
- Puree prunes and eat them as “prune butter”
And don’t forget, increase fiber into your diet gradually, but remember to add water intake accordingly. A sudden change in fiber without adequate hydration can be difficult on your digestive system.
Enjoy your newfound love for prunes!
Leah Black, RD is a Denver, CO-based private practice dietitian with a focus on sports and fitness nutrition. Her mission is to cultivate a fearless mindset by helping others stay fueled and inspired through they way they nourish and move their bodies.