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Superfood of the Week: Health Benefits of Prunes
With my busy schedule and always being on the go, I have to make sure I am keeping my energy levels up by eating every 2 to 3 hours. One of my go-to snacks is a few dried plums, also known as prunes. I know what you're probably thinking…grandma. Sure, I used to watch my grandma eat three or four of them at breakfast every morning and never wanted to indulge with her.
Well, sometimes it pays to listen to our elders because these tiny, California-grown fruits have multiple health benefits. That's why this week’s super food is prunes (call them dried plums if that makes you feel better about them)!
Why are prunes good for me?
Eating a few prunes a day will provide a serving of fruit. Prunes are actually simply dried plums like raisins are actually grapes. They supply a range of nutrients that are beneficial to our health including:
- Dietary fiber: Fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods that pushes food through your body, absorbs water, and acts as a natural laxative aiding with constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis. As a dietitian, I talk about “regularity” quite often, so prunes are part of that discussion!
- Phytonutrients: Prunes contain a high amount of phytonutrients which have been shown in studies to protect against the destructive action of free radicals. Free radicals degrade and damage our body’s cells, which dramatically reduces our defenses and leaves us more susceptible to disease. We need an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables daily to counteract free radicals in our body.
- High levels of vitamin A and beta carotene: These vitamins help to sustain healthy vision and other skin conditions. Beta carotene also acts as an antioxidant to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and some forms of cancer.
- Other vitamins and minerals: Prunes also contain iron, copper, calcium, vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium.
What makes prunes the perfect snack?
When that afternoon sugar low hits, it’s easy to grab something out of the vending machine to deliver that quick fix you crave. Try reaching for prunes instead! I keep the Sunsweet Ones in my desk at work because they are nice and sweet, and I love the convenience of the individually wrapped 25-calorie sweeties.
Choosing complex carbohydrates containing fiber helps keep our energy revved and keeps us full longer. Prunes also contain naturally occurring fruit sugar called fructose which is three times sweeter than normal table sugar—perfect when you need that sugar fix!
Looking for more ways to eat prunes other than as a snack?
Prunes are a delicious and nutritious way to add sweetness into a meal or dessert. Check out these recipes.