5 healthy reasons you need to eat more prunes

Prunes are known to relieve constipation and may help protect against disease. Here are more of their amazing health benefits and a plum-quinoa salad recipe.

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Prunes in a bowl

Photo, Getty Images.

Not a fan of prunes? You’re not alone. In fact, women ages 25 to 54 react so negatively to the idea of prunes that the California Prune Board pressured the Food and Drug Administration to change their name to the more appealing ‘dried plums’ (which they technically are), and it worked! Sales of this super-healthy purple fruit have grown.

It’s not surprising that prunes fell out of favour considering their close association with relieving constipation. Prunes (or shall we call them dried plums?) have been sold as a popular digestive remedy for decades mainly because of these three components: fibre, sorbitol (a sugar alcohol that can loosen the stool) and a natural laxative compound called diphenyl isatin.

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:

1. They protect against cardiovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses
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 lipid molecules in the body. Since all of our cell membranes, as well as our brain cells, are largely made up of lipids which contain 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.

2. 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.

3. 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. A 2011 study found that prunes are more effective than psyllium at relieving constipation.

4. Get improved bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
A study from 2011 showed that prunes and plums are the most effective fruit in preventing and reversing bone loss due to rich sources of phenoic and flavonoid compounds.

5. They’re a good source of vitamin K and beta carotene
A 2013 study showed that an increased intake in beta carotene 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.

Try my savoury plum-quinoa salad recipe to reap these health benefits and more:

Plum salad with quinoa

Plum salad with quinoa (Photo, Julie Daniluk)

The combination of the quinoa and the plums make this recipe very high in fibre and helpful in balancing your blood sugar. The walnuts and cinnamon will appeal to the whole family, while the sweet and sour tastes make it great for a side salad at a summer picnic.

Ingredients
250 ml (1 cup) uncooked quinoa
375 ml (1.5 cups) water
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt
1,000 ml (4 cups) firm red plum, chopped
250 ml (1 cup) red onion, finely chopped
250 ml (1 cup) walnuts
125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine vinegar
125 ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
5 ml (1 tsp) sea salt
10 ml (2 tsp) cinnamon

Directions
1. Place water, quinoa and salt into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes.

2. While quinoa is cooking, mix all other ingredients into a large bowl.

3. Mix all of the cooked quinoa into the rest of the ingredients while it is still hot.

4. Chill salad in refrigerator for one hour to allow flavours to mix together.

Makes 9 servings

Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book, Meals That Heal Inflammation helps people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

-Article originally published June 2012.

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23 comments on “5 healthy reasons you need to eat more prunes

  1. Pingback: Thursday snack attack: Trail Mix | White Island

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  3. I’ve loved prunes since I was wee little!! 23 now and I still eat them on the daily

    Reply

  4. I have eaten prunes for months at a time (several times) and it never helped with constipation. I don’t know why they keep telling us it works.

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    • Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone but it sure works for me and my husband. Grew up eating prunes, love them.

      Reply

    • suplement them with veggies

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    • water!

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      • I second that ‘water’ idea. Prunes are most effective if you eat them, and then drink one cup of water – that usually gives both your body, and the prunes enough water to soften your stools. If that doesn’t work, well… I really don’t know what to say. 😛

        Reply

  5. The recipe sounds great. Are these the dried prunes that need to be used ? Thanks.

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    • Hello Marcia, In the recipe, it has been mentioned, 1000ml (4 cups) firm red plum, chopped, therefore the question of dried prunes does not arise at all. It is fresh red plum only and not dried prunes. Cheers!!! :o)

      Reply

  6. sir i have been regularly eating PRUNES about 8 pcs before dinner to ease relieve constipation problem yet i do not fully clear my bowls and have to visit toilet 4/5 times daily to relieve. kindly advise. thank you regards gobind aged 79 yrs.

    Reply

  7. How long does it take for prunes juice to work to loose stool anyone know

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  8. I have diabetes and want to know everything about prunes

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    • l am a diabetic and would like to eat 3 prunes in the morning for constipation. my question is how many carbs would be in prunes,

      Reply

  9. Thanks so much, i luv prunes so much,but i didn’t knew that it has so many health reason, I thank God

    Reply

  10. Excellent Information!
    I need it for everyobe of those reasons!
    Thank you!!

    Reply

  11. I eat 4 prunes every morning, and a glass of water.

    Reply

  12. Water for constipation , prunes alone aren’t going to cure constipation. medication that causes constipation can be hard to cure. The number one reason for constipation is the lack of good ole H2O.

    Reply

  13. This article does not tell us how many prunes to consume per day to achieve the benefits listed. How many prunes per day to help prevent osteoporosis?

    Reply

  14. tyu64ryrty

    Reply

  15. 5745gydsfuyuytytuytytyfuytutytytuuy

    Reply

  16. Prunes changed my life. I used to have so many digestive issues and eating prunes literally changed that overnight! I love this article thank you so much!

    Reply

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