An Everyday Superfood: 3 Reasons Why This Dietitian Loves Prunes
In the past few years we’ve seen an increase in the popularity of exotic, trendy, so-called “superfoods”. You know the ones I’m talking about; fancy extracts, oils and berries flown in from the other side of the world with magical health claims like boundless energy and a cure for cancer. Although your personal trainer might seem like a reputable source (try again!), many of these “health” foods have limited evidence to back up their claims. Not to mention, they are often quite pricey and can leave you wondering whether the investment was really worth it.
What many of us don’t realize is that we are fortunate to have so many “everyday superfoods” at our fingertips already. There are lots of affordable, nutritious foods that we know well and come across easily, but that perhaps many of us could benefit from including more of in our everyday diet. Today I am honoured to showcase one of my favourite everyday superfoods… California Prunes!
Prunes, also known as dried plums, make a tasty sweet treat, and have a variety of health benefits, some of which may come as a surprise to you. Most prunes come from California, where the fresh plums are grown in optimal sunshine and soil quality, leading to an exceptional fruit product. California prunes (aka the highest quality of dried plums) can be found under multiple labels at your favorite grocer and are relatively inexpensive.
Here are 3 reasons why you should add this everyday superfood to your diet:
1) Digestive Health
You are probably aware that prunes are good to help keep you regular, but do you know why? Prunes are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre, which we need a balance of to keep our digestive tract healthy. Aside from fibre, prunes contain a natural amount of “sorbitol”, a sugar alcohol with a natural laxative effect. There’s a reason they call them nature’s remedy! This is not just an old wives’ tale, evidence actually supports this fact. A recent randomized clinical trial (aka high quality study) showed that daily prune intake increased stool weight and frequency in those with low fibre intake and low frequency. Adding a serving (4-5) prunes to a meal or snack each day can help keep your digestive system up to speed.
Tip: A common issue many of us have is that we are thrown off our usual “bathroom schedule” when we travel. Infrequency is a common problem, and can be a bit of a drag. But you need not suffer, I recommend planning ahead and often tell my clients to pack some prunes when going travelling to keep things moving along.
2) Bone Health
Prunes and bone health… what?? You might be surprised to know that prunes contain many bone healthy nutrients, which can both help to optimize bone formation during peak years, as well as slow down the natural bone loss that occurs with aging. Peak bone mass is reached around the age of 30; from this point on, bone resorption (loss) exceeds bone formation. However, our nutrition can play an important role in bone health throughout the lifespan. Prunes are rich in Vitamin K, a nutrient that plays a role in keeping calcium in the bones and out of the blood, and is used to make prothrombin which plays a role in bone metabolism. Prunes also contain manganese, boron, and potassium which are important minerals that also play a role in bone health. Recent research has even shown that 5-6 prunes per day helps to slow bone loss in post-menopausal women (a group that is at high risk for osteoporosis).
These nutrient packed treats are so easy to incorporate into your diet you really have no reason not to have one serving a day! California prunes typically do not have any added sugars (always check the label), but offer a lovely natural sweetness to recipes. Better still, they provide a lot of nutrition for your caloric buck; a single serving (4-5 prunes or 40g) is only ~100 calories.
Given their naturally sweet, moist qualities, they can add interest to a variety of snacks and meals. The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas:
Grab and go snack: pair 4-5 prunes with a handful of almonds or walnuts
Slice them and add to a salad
Plum berry chia pudding: combine 4-5 chopped prunes, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 1 cup almond milk, tsp vanilla extract, and ½ cup blackberries in a jar overnight for a make ahead breakfast!
Cook them with oatmeal to add a natural sweetness
Do you already eat prunes? Have I got you convinced to try them? Comment below, I want to hear how you already have them, or plan to add them to your diet!
This post was sponsored by the California Prune Board.