The first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people when hearing the word ‘prunes’ is a food for the elderly, especially prune juice. The reality is, most people should be eating more prunes. Many think that prunes are their own plant, but they are actually the dried version of the more popular plum fruit. In fact, recent years have seen the name change from prunes to dried plums in some circles to remove the stigma of being an “old person food.”
Prunes are used in a variety of different foods such as desserts like cake, though they can certainly be eaten on their own. Prunes are very sweet, and most people that try them for the first time find that they actually like the taste. Prunes also have a lot of health benefits outside of what you probably already knew. Let’s take a look at the nutrients and health benefits that you can get from eating more prunes.
Nutrition of Prunes
Prunes contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, although there aren’t many that are going to account for a high daily value in each one ounce serving. Vitamin E is the most abundant, with 21 percent of your recommended intake. Meanwhile, there is also vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6 with trace amounts of other vitamins.
Prunes are a solid source of potassium with six percent daily value, while other minerals with a lower amount include magnesium, copper and manganese. The one thing that prunes are known the most for, however, is fiber. There are two grams of dietary fiber in each serving of prunes, and even 4.8 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Of course, the main reason that people eat prunes in the first place is to improve their digestive systems. Prunes act as a natural laxative due to their fiber content, as well as sorbitol. Many people that are suffering from constipation either eat prunes, or drink a glass of prune juice. While it’s not the best tasting fruit juice out there, it’s perhaps the most effective in terms of helping digestive system.
Conditions such as hemorrhoids are caused by constipation, so it’s important to stay regular. Prune juice might not be the best solution for everybody, but it has shown to be effective and simply speaking with your doctor will find the right solution. The fiber in prunes and prune juice not only helps with your digestive system, but can help your urinary tract and relieve symptoms from an overactive bladder. When people say that you should be getting more fiber, they aren’t lying.
Another reason why you see so many elderly people sticking to prunes is because they enhance your bone health. Prunes contain a mineral known as boron, which is effective in strengthening bones and preventing bone loss. Fiber (once again) and vitamin E also play big parts in keeping your bones strong. Naturally, as you age, bones start to lose their density and can cause problems such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
Elderly people are constantly suffering from these problems, and drink prune juice to avoid further bone loss. The antioxidants in prunes can also help ease the pain that comes from bone loss. Pain is caused by inflammation in the joints, which is combatted by fruits such as prunes, though there are other fruits that have similar effects.
The antioxidants in prunes are going to be very beneficial for your heart. On top of that, prunes are a good source of potassium, which can lead to a more normal blood pressure that allows you to avoid many different forms of heart disease and even stroke. Studies have backed up prune juice’s ability to lower blood pressure by reducing the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries.
That plaque reduction is also going to lead to lower cholesterol levels. LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, can be lowered by drinking more prune juice. Anti-inflammatory proponents of prunes make the blood flow in your body much more efficient, which helps you avoid many different diseases on top of heart problems.
Hair and Skin
Three things that can start to go quick with aging are your hair, eyes and skin. Prunes can help you in all three aspects. Starting with the hair, prunes contain a high amount of iron that can allow your hair to grow thicker while also keeping its color. As for your skin, the antioxidants and vitamins will keep your skin hydrated, giving it a more glowing look and avoiding signs of wrinkles such as aging.
Finally, the vitamin A content in prunes are going to help you avoid vision problems down the line. Most vision problems such as macular degeneration are caused by a vitamin A deficiency. Those that are starting to get a bit older know how fast your vision can escape you, so it’s important to have that vitamin A while you can get it.
If you are eating prunes at a suggested amount, you will be able to manage your weight better. Prunes are a little higher than most fruits in sugar and calorie content, but the fiber can make you feel more full throughout the day. They are also very sweet, which allows you to knock out some of those cravings that you might have had for unhealthier sugars such as milk chocolate. Studies have even shown that prunes are able to help you keep hunger away than other sweets.
Summing it Up
Prunes have their benefits in the health world, which is why they have been claimed to be a superfood in certain circles. There are a couple of things that you should know, starting with how many prunes you should be eating. If you are looking to prunes for a one time fix for constipation, that is more than fine. However, if you lean on prunes as a permanent laxative, your body is likely to build up an immunity that brings back your digestive problems.
Eating too many prunes at one time can cause gas and bloating, which is likely what you were trying to avoid in the first place. You also don’t want to eat too many because of the sugar and calorie content. This can lead to weight gain and an increased blood sugar count, so eating just one or two prunes should do the trick. As long as you are managing your intake, prunes are going to have a great overall benefit for your body, no matter what age you are.