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Prunes… More than just a laxative

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It is harvest time again in Northern California, and for my family that means prunes…Oh woops, I mean Sugar Plums. I am frequently asked,”Is a prune a dried plum?” Essentially, yes, a prune is a plum, however, it is a different variety than the ones you buy in the supermarket. The variety used for prunes tend to be higher in sugar content and are oblong in shape. The prunes are dehydrated, rehydrated and packaged to be sent to supermarkets around the world for consumption.

The soluble and insoluble fibers in dried plums give it the reputation of being a laxative. But did you know that regular dried plum consumption may improve bone health? A review located in Ageing Research Reviews indicated prunes are loaded with phenolic compounds and antioxidants which increase bone health (Hooshmand et al, 2009). The antioxidants have been shown to inhibit bone breakdown and stimulate bone growth. The review also discusses various animal studies in which dried plum consumption has been shown to prevent bone loss, increase bone density, and even promote reversal of bone loss. It is expected more studies will begin on humans to further strengthen the argument for dried plums in the prevention of bone loss

Including dried plums in your daily diet might seem challenging at first, however, there are many great products out there. In my household, I use Plum Amazins, from Sunsweet. Plum Amazins are diced dried plums which can be easily incorporated into salads, rice pilaf, yogurt, cereal, baked products, or any dish you want to add a bit of sweetness to. I also enjoy eating two or three prunes for a snack in between meals. If you search for “prune recipes” on your web browser, a whole array of fun recipe ideas will appear. Try different ways to eat prunes, but most important have fun with it… Your bones and gut a will thank you!

 

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Your Registered Dietitian,

Kristin Willard

S. Hooshmand, B.H. Arjmandi. Viewpoint: Dried plum, and emerging functional food that may effectively improve bone health. Ageing Research Reviews, 8(2009), pp. 122-127.

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