Yes, you read it right! We are focusing on these dried fruits as our health food of the week. I am sure that most immediately you think of these as somewhat high in sugar and perhaps not as something you would think you should actually fit into your nutrition plan. But there are numerous health benefits, vitamins, nutrients, fiber, anti-oxidants, and phytonutrients in these delicious fruits. They also seem to provide satiety and help you eat less while remaining satisfied. Even though they are relatively calorie dense, they seem to help regulate blood sugar and promote gut health.
Prunes (dried plums) – I am sure when you think of prunes you think of them in terms of their reputation of a laxative of sorts! While there is some truth to this (in a good way) prunes are actually packed with health promoting qualities, including but not limited to digestive health. Prunes provide bulk to the stools and the soluble fiber slows down the time it takes for food to leave the stomach, thus helping to control blood sugar and reduce colon cancer risk and hemorrhoids. The insoluble fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut and causes a fermentation process which produces a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid. This is the primary fuel for the large intestine promoting a healthy colon. Two other short-chain fatty acids are also produced, propionic and acetic, which the liver and muscles use as fuel.
The high boron content makes prunes a good food for promoting bone health. Boron is a trace mineral necessary for bone health and useful in preventing osteoporosis. In one study of postmenopausal women it showed that those who ate approximately 12 prunes per day for 3 months had the presence of enzymes and growth factors that increased bone formation, with no negative intestinal problems. These markers were not present in the women who did not eat the prunes.
Prunes are very rich in antioxidant compounds. As a matter of fact, in a study conducted by Tufts University, prunes outranked all other fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant content. Rich in phenolic and carotenoid phytonutrients such as beta-carotene & alpha-carotene and others prevent oxidative damage to cells. They are also a good source of Vitamin A, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, iron, boron, and fiber (both soluble and insoluble). So, who knew! Prunes really are good for you!