Prunes are known to relieve constipation and help protect against disease. It’s not surprising that prunes fell out of favour considering their close association with relieving constipation. Though they’re not the sexiest of fruits, there’s no denying their effectiveness for that particular health benefit. It provides antioxidant protection, prevent pre-mature aging, promote cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of cancer and osteoporosis.
Prunes — or dried plums —are considered one of the healthiest foods there is. have been sold as a popular digestive remedy for decades for their ability to relieve constipation and work as a laxative in three ways. Prunes contain fibre, a type of alcohol sugar called sorbitol.
Sorbitol is a mild colonic stimulant that helps reduce the transit time of stool and consequently the risk of constipation, colorectal cancer and hemorrhoids. Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that the enzymes in your body cannot digest and that is therefore not absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, fiber remains in the colon where it absorbs water and softens the stool, thereby providing health benefits for those suffering from constipation. Also the neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids present in prunes may improve their laxative action.
Beyond the benefits to your digestive tract, and the fact that they offer a sweet hit for only 30 calories, plums and prunes have many other wonderful health properties. Here are just a few:
They protect against diseases like cancer
Plums and prunes not only protect the brain from free radical damage but can also help to prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Prunes and plums contain high levels of phytonutrients called phenols. They’re particularly high in two unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. Numerous studies show that these phytonutrients help to prevent damage to cells particularly when it comes to the oxidation of fat molecules in the body. Since all of our cell membranes, as well as our brain cells, are largely made up of fat, these are important phytonutrients to have in the diet. These compounds have also been found to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the body making them an important factor in the prevention of chronic diseases.
They help prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity
Prunes and plums are high in soluble fibre that helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. Soluble fibre slows the rate that food leaves the stomach and, as a result, delays the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. Soluble fibre also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
The soluble fibre in prunes helps you feel satisfied after a meal, which can prevent overeating and subsequent weight gain.
Prunes and plums help to lower cholesterol
The soluble fibre we just spoke of also helps to lower cholesterol by soaking up excess bile in the intestine and then excreting it. Bile is made from cholesterol in the liver in order to digest fat. When the body excretes bile along with the fibre from prunes and plums, the liver must use cholesterol in the body to make more bile thereby lowering the amount in circulation in the body. Soluble fibre may also inhibit the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the liver in the first place.
Protection against osteoporosis and osteopenia
Get improved bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Recent studies show that prunes and plums are the most effective fruit in preventing and reversing bone loss due to rich sources of phenoic and flavonoid compounds. These health benefits of prunes may be linked to their high concentration of the trace element boron which is postulated to play a role in prevention of osteoporosis and osteopenia. A single serving of prunes (100 grams) fulfils the daily requirement for boron. Also the potassium found in prunes may help support bone health.
They’re a good source of vitamin K and beta carotene
Studies showed that an increased intake in B can actually make people happier. Beta-carotene also protects and fixes the damage of free radicals on our cells meaning it can help reverse the signs of aging. Vitamin K works in conjunction with beta carotene to fight the signs of aging by helping reduce bone loss and improving circulation.
Antioxidant superfood naturally rich in hydroxycinnamic acids and anthocyanins.
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that result from normal cell metabolism, smoking, pollution and UV irradiation. Research suggests that excess free radicals may contribute to pre-mature aging, wrinkling of the skin, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
Much of the antioxidant power of prunes can be attributed to the high levels of hydroxycinnamic acids (types of phenolic compounds) they contain. The hydroxycinnamic acids present in prunes include neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, both of which appear to be highly effective at scavenging free radicals. In addition to hydroxycinnamic acids, prunes and plums are rich in anthocyanins, flavonoid pigments with strong antioxidant properties.