When you hear the word prunes, does it strike fear in your heart? Do you imagine a colony of senior citizens eating dried plums to keep away unsavory digestive issues like constipation and a bloated belly?
If you wrinkle up your nose yourself when thinking about prunes, you are not alone. Most people view prunes as unsavory and distasteful, yet the reality is that they are packed full of flavor, vitamins, and minerals that can improve your health.
All about prunes
These delicious fruits are dried plums. They have a sticky, sweet taste and a chewy texture that makes them an excellent addition to sauces, smoothies, and even desserts. To boost consumption recently, the prune industry briefly changed its name to “dried plums,” and it worked!
We think that this delicious fruit has gotten a bad rap, and we are here to set the story straight about what this delightful food can do for your mind, your body, and your health.
Let’s take a look at how its dried deliciousness came to be, and how it can change your world, even if you are “new to the chew.”
History of prunes
Coming originally along the silk route from China, the plum tree literally took root in the Mediterranean and spread westward as the fruit grew in popularity. To preserve the plum and make it consumable year-round, even when trees were not producing, harvesters began stone baking or letting plums dry in the sun and voila! The prune was born.
The modern production of the fruit starts when plums are picked at their peak for color and flavor, then they are dehydrated for 20-24 hours to retain maximum freshness. Some prunes that are dried for less time have a moist and chewy texture. However, they do not have a long shelf life and must be consumed more rapidly to avoid spoiling.
13 Reasons to Eat Prunes (or Dried Plums)
Just a serving of four “dried plums daily provides a third of your daily requirements of vitamin K, a dose of daily fiber, and over 290 milligrams of potassium. Let’s take a look at some other benefits of this fruit, as well as how it can be incorporated into your diet for optimal health and nutrition. Why do we need to include them in our diet?
1. They aid in digestion
Dried plums are rich in fiber, and they help to prevent digestive issues such as IBS and constipation from occurring. Constipation can be problematic for older adults as well as children; this painful condition can quickly cause other health issues if digestive regulation is not corrected. Some loyal consumers of this fruit also note that its juice is a powerful laxative agent, thanks to its high sorbitol content. With daily recommendations for most adults being 30-40 grams of fiber daily, this fruit is an excellent way to meet that quota, regardless of whether you consume it in solid or liquid form.
2. They help to prevent overactive bladder discomfort
Overactive bladder is an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition where you continually fight the urge to urinate. Adding more fiber to your diet can relieve pressure on your bladder, some of which may actually be caused by constipation.
Soluble fiber will also pull water from your elimination system to bulk up the digestive process in your colon, reducing your urge to urinate as well. A modest serving of extra fiber daily will make you feel more comfortable overall.
3. Prunes are high in potassium
This super fruit is very high in potassium, which is a critical electrolyte that assists in several metabolic processes in the body. It is said to aid with digestion, elimination, regulation of heart rhythm, nerve and muscle impulses, and blood pressure. The body does not produce potassium on its own; a serving of prunes provides almost 20 percent of your daily requirements of potassium.
4. They are high in vitamins
Not only rich in potassium, but dried plums also contain several vital vitamins needed to metabolize food and function at optimal levels. Dried plums contain vitamin K, A, riboflavin, B-6, and niacin, which are all required by the body for cellular metabolic and detoxification functions. The more efficient your cell function is, the more likely you are to be in a state of vibrant health.
5. They are excellent for your heart
While exercise and a proper diet contribute to heart health, consuming a serving of this sweet fruit certainly can’t hurt! Its fiber rich flavor helps to lower cholesterol and keep heart and blood vessels healthy, reducing the risk of heart disease.
This reduction in cholesterol keeps inflammation at bay and helps to keep arteries clean and plaque-free, making your entire cardiovascular system more efficient.
6. Prunes help promote eye health
As you slip on your sunglasses for your next outdoor adventure, think about popping some dried plums in your bag to keep your eyes healthy.
They are rich in vitamin A and beta carotene, two nutrients that are essential in protecting your eyes from damaging UV rays. Snack on a handful on your next nature walk, and you’ll be on the right track for better eye health.
7. They fight colds and other viruses
Move over, vitamin C! Take a backseat, oranges! This fruit is the next big thing when it comes to packing antioxidant power and battling nasty viruses during cold and flu season. They provide you with crucial vitamins that assist in cellular healing processes; viruses cannot invade a healthy cell environment. They are the perfect snacking companion for you at the office, for your kids at school, and anywhere else, you might come into contact with free-roaming bacteria that threaten your health.
8. They help to build muscle
Yoga and strength training are excellent ways to train the body and promote healthful muscle tone. However, you simply cannot out-train your fork. What you put into your gut does matter.
Luckily, a serving of this power-packed goodness contains enough boron to properly rebuild muscle tissue, improve muscle coordination, and increase your mental clarity. Why would you not take advantage of the benefits?
9. Dried plums treat anemia
Anemia is a condition caused when your body is iron-deficient. This can manifest in the body as fatigue, tiredness, and even shortness of breath. Dried plums are packed with iron, a mineral critical to proper metabolic function and natural energy. Iron is needed to build essential blood structures; consider adding this fruit to your diet for healthy blood and healthy iron levels.
10. They provide natural energy without blood sugar spikes
Prunes provide you with a natural energy spike without any spikes in blood sugar. A unique combination of fructose and sorbitol affords you sweet energy without all the sugar issues. People with diabetes and people with glucose sensitivities can enjoy the natural sweetness that this wonderfully nutritious fruit provides.
11. They may help with weight management
Fiber-packed morsels of sweet and chewy goodness help keep you fuller, longer. People who snack on dried plums report that they satisfy their sweet tooth as well as maintain a feeling of fullness that makes snacking obsolete.
12. They may protect against respiratory disorders
COPD, emphysema, and other lung diseases may be significantly improved with antioxidant-rich foods. This sweet and satisfying fruit supplies you with many antioxidants that will protect lung tissue and work to repair compromised areas for improved respiratory function.
13. Dried plums help improve bone health
These vitamin-rich beauties have shown to be the most effective fruit when it comes to protecting bone health and preventing osteoporosis, thanks in part to the abundant phenolic and flavonoid compounds present in every delicious bite. Who needs to wait until their forties and fifties to protect bone health? Start snacking on dried plums in your youth, and you’ll have strong and healthy bones for years to come.
Possible side effects of eating too many prunes
Undoubtedly, prunes are delicious, and they have several health benefits. However, this fruit can cause some unsavory side effects when you consume it in excess.
Some of these side effects include:
- Bloating and gas–sorbitol and fiber present in the fruit can cause excess gas to form.
- Diarrhea–insoluble fiber may make stools frequent and uncomfortable.
- Constipation–excess fiber can absorb liquids that you are ingesting.
To prevent these issues, introduce dried plums into your diet slowly.
Final Thoughts: Adding prunes (aka dried plums) to your diet
If you are wondering how to incorporate these vitamin-rich, delicious morsels to your diet, consider these easy ways:
- Take them along to work or school for a quick snack.
- Add them to breakfast cereal and oatmeal.
- Mix them into nuts and chocolate for a delicious trail mix
- Add to cookies, brownies, and other baked goods.
- Blend them into drinks and smoothies.
- Puree them and make them into jam.
- Add them to sauces and stews.
- Drink their delicious juice.
With such a rich and tasty way to enhance your diet, you really have no excuse not to incorporate them into your daily meals and snacks. Bon Apetit!