Prunes and Health Benefits
The dried varieties of plums that have been dehydrated by undergoing the natural drying process under the sun and not via fermentation are known as prunes. Prunes are known for their wonderful benefits. Prunes are filled with nutrients that can increase body vigor. Also the fact that they are chewy and luscious to the taste-buds makes these dry fruits impossible to resist. Prunes are dark-colored, sweet-tasting, round-shaped and flattened. Types of prunes include the French variety, European prunes, Italian prunes, Sutter, Imperial, Greengage, Moyer prunes and those belonging to the Tulare Giant group.
Select those prunes that are well-packaged and preferably those sold in transparent containers as their quality can be examined. Containers that show signs of tampering or those that are torn or broken are best not purchased. Also ensure no preservatives have been added to the containers. When at home, store the prunes in sealed containers in a cool corner or in the refrigerator and they will be kept fresh for 6 months. Prunes that have been pitted and those that have not been pitted are available in the markets. The pitted prunes are advisable to purchase as they need not be pitted and can be enjoyed directly.
Prunes can be soaked in water for few minutes and then consumed or cooked. Soaking the prunes is helpful as the prunes tend to become dry and to relish the flavor of prunes to the maximum degree it is advisable to refresh them by placing in water for couple of minutes. Prunes can be topped on cereals and porridge dishes had for breakfast. Salads including vegetable and fruit salads can include prunes along with an array of other fruits or vegetables. Breads, cakes and pies can contain prunes in their recipes. Prunes can also be enjoyed as a snack when hungry and looking for a quick-bite.
Prunes can be included in the list of must-have foods or snacks as they are bursting with flavor and nutrients. Vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and anti-oxidants are found in prunes. The health aspect related to prune consumption is studied in the following points.
- Nutritional Value
Vitamin A and Vitamin K can be found in large doses in prunes. Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium constitute the minerals in prunes.
Prunes contain anti-oxidants that combat the toxins and free radicals in the body and protect the cells from injury. Here prunes can be considered as anti-oxidant agents as they prevent illness in the body.
- Cardio-Vascular Health
Potassium contained in prunes can stabilize the blood pressure levels in the body thereby avoiding heart ailments such as stroke and heart-attacks and promoting health of the heart.
- Weight Loss
Dietary fiber in prunes is useful in the weight-loss program. Fiber intake makes the stomach feel satiated and binge cravings are therefore reduced. A handful of prunes consumed on a daily basis can have beneficial results where managing weight is concerned.
- Controls Diabetes
Blood sugar levels can be stabilized with consuming prunes. This occurs as the sugar is absorbed by the blood at a slow rate. Sensitivity to insulin is also improved with prune intake. These factors help in controlling diabetes.
- Digestive Health
Prunes contain dietary fiber which can prove useful in the digestion of food. Dietary fiber cannot be digested by the body and hence is not absorbed in the blood. The fiber is therefore stored in the colon where it absorbs water. As a result the stools are softened and the excretion process is eased. Disorders such as constipation are therefore resisted.
- Other Benefits
The aging process can be combated with prunes and the anti-oxidants and Vitamin A can be held responsible here. The anti-oxidants neutralize the effects of the free radicals that can cause cell injury and aging in the body. Vitamin A in prunes promotes the growth of collagen within the body resulting in the absence of wrinkles.
Ocular health is maintained with prunes due to the Vitamin A content which promotes health of the retina.