Did you know prunes were once considered almost as precious as salt in Europe. And that people would even work for prunes. In the 15th Century, the French even had a phrase for this: “travailler pour des prunes”. To this day, they are considered a delicacy in France and other parts of Europe. Expensive vintage Ports are described as being “superbly integrated with lush prune and raisin nuances” or “multifaceted aromatics led by smoky prunes”.
Not Just Your Grandmother’s Fruit Anymore
Prunes aka dried plums need no longer be relegated to the backbench of culinary fruits only available as a rather bland stewed side dish for breakfast. Instead you might want to try them in such exotic ways as prune and Armagnac(brandy) ice cream or serve them with a citrus fruit like kumquats or oranges, or even with chocolate. Some people even describe the moister prunes now available as being better than chocolate. More about that later…
Although prunes have long been known for their value in promoting regularity and preventing constipation due in part to the high fiber content, research has now shown they have many remarkable health benefits.
- Prunes are an excellent source of potassium, a nutrient important to our bodies for muscle strength. This is of particular concern as regards our heart muscle and penis… So much so that doctors routinely check your level of potassium when doing blood tests. Even a slight downward deviation from the norm, can be very serious.
- Because prunes are also low in sodium they can promote lower blood pressure. A 4-year study of 40,000 professional men who ate diets higher in potassium, magnesium and cereal fiber showed a substantially reduced risk of stroke.
- Prunes also help reduce cholesterol
- They play an important role in maintaining normal blood sugar levels, making them an excellent food for those who have (or are at risk of developing) Type II diabetes.
- As it ferments in the intestine prune fiber provides food for friendly bacteria.
- Just a quarter cup of prunes will provide 16.9% of the daily value of Vit. A and 9% of the daily value of copper.
- High in antioxidants that will help reduce the damage of free radicals
- Because their soluble fiber promotes a sense of satisfied fullness after a meal, prunes can also help prevent overeating.
Natural Cancer Prevention by Consuming Prunes
- In a Swedish study of 51,823 postmenopausal women conducted over 8.3 years, it was shown the risk of breast cancer can be reduced as much as 50% with a diet high in fruit and cereal fiber. And prunes is a perfect fruit with high fiber content.
- The fiber in prunes can reduce risk for colon cancer and hemorrhoid problems.
- Research by Tufts University and USDA scientists placed prunes and raisins atop a list of the best cancer-fighting fruits. Recommended amount – ½ cup daily
Natural Treatment for Osteoporosis
According to a recent article, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, prunes may help combat osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is common in postmenopausal women, which results in the bones becoming brittle creating a higher risk for fractures.
In two separate studies Florida State University scientists have been looking at how the antioxidants in prunes work in the body to promote the enzymes responsible for bone formation.
While the studies are on going, considering the other nutritional values of prunes it certainly would be wise to make them a part of your regular diet.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Prunes
- Stuff them with your favorite nuts for a filling low calorie snack
- Add them to pancakes and muffins
- Substitute them for dates in Date Nut Bread
- Stuff them with cheese
- Make a fruit salad with prunes, oranges or other citrus fruits, and fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. Leave out the sugar and use plain yogurt. If you prefer it a little sweeter drizzle on a small amount of honey.
- Make your own healthy trail mix with prunes, roasted almonds, sunflower seeds and unsweetened chocolate nibs.
- Create a cinnamon spiced orange sauce with walnuts and prunes to serve over oatmeal or polenta. You can find this delightful recipe at whfoods.
Store your prunes in an airtight container. They require no refrigeration but will keep up to 6 months in the refrigerator. When shopping for prunes look for them in a see through container so you can evaluate the quality. They should be plump and shiny. Look for prunes that are dried to 35% humidity instead of the more normal 21-23%. At 35% humidity, no re-hydration is needed. They can even be frozen this way. Because of the high sugar content, they won’t freeze solid and can be eaten straight from the freezer.