We all know that prunes have laxative effects, they effectively restore normal bowel functioning. But not everyone is aware that due to the popular U.S. perception of prunes being used only for relief of constipation, and being the subject of related joking, many plum growers started using the word “dried plums” instead of “prune” on packaging labels. They even got authorization from the government for that. Interesting fact!
Best prunes were collected at the peak of their ripeness. They have a wonderful flavour and great taste. The prunes are pitted and not completely dried out; they retain some moisture which makes them juicy and pleasantly chewy. These wrinkly dried plums are so naturally sweet that you’d never believe there is no sugar added.
Prunes are very healthy: free of fat, cholesterol, sodium, and gluten, but rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin K, boron, and phytochemicals.
Prunes are not only a delicious and easy snack but also a perfect energy booster. They lift your mood too! You can eat dried plums just as they are, directly from the bag, or use for cooking. Try roasted duck stuffed with prunes and apples. Add chopped prunes to your yogurt or marinate any meat with them. There are so many ways to enjoy prunes.
Prunes Nutritional Value
100 grams of prunes is about 10 dried plums. A serving of 5 prunes provides:
20g of carbohydrate including 3.5g of dietary fiber (which our body cannot digest meaning that you may not consider it as actual “carbs”); 13g of sugars (about 5g of glucose and 8g of fructose)
- 1g of protein
- 120 calories
- no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium
15g of sorbitol (sugar alcohol) that works as a laxative by drawing water into the large intestine, stimulating bowel movements
Prunes are a rich source of vitamin K: a 100-gramm serving provides 57% of the Daily Value (DV). They are a moderate source of vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, and dietary minerals (10-16% DV). Dried plums also contain health-beneficial phytochemicals. Prunes have higher amounts of boron than most fruits.
Health Benefits of Prunes
As we said before, prunes are rich in dietary fiber, sorbitol, potassium, boron and phytochemicals which are involved in many interrelated biochemical and physiological processes. Together these compounds help regulate glucose metabolism, promote cardiovascular health, are involved in bone metabolism, protect against cancer, and contribute to digestion.
Published in the “Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition” in 2001, the extensive literature review “Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food?” summarized the current knowledge of chemical content of prunes and their effects on human health.
The laxative action of prunes could be explained by their high sorbitol content – 14.7g/100.
Prunes are a good source of energy in the form of simple sugars, but do not mediate a rapid rise in blood sugar concentration, possibly because of high fiber, fructose, and sorbitol content.
Prunes contain large amounts of phenolic compounds (184 mg/100 g), mainly as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, which may aid in the laxative action and delay glucose absorption.
Phenolic compounds in prunes had been found to inhibit human LDL oxidation in vitro, and thus might serve as preventive agents against chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
High potassium content of prunes (745 mg/100 g) might be beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Dried prunes are an important source of boron, which is postulated to play a role in prevention of osteoporosis. A 100g serving of prunes fulfills the daily requirement for boron (2 to 3 mg).
Vitamin K, boron, and phytochemicals in prunes play an important role in bone and calcium metabolism preventing osteoporosis and bone loss. High amounts of vitamin K improve bone health by regulating calcium balance and promoting normal bone mineralization.
Global production of plums is led by China. No wonder that various flavours of dried plum are available at Chinese food stores worldwide. Cream, ginseng, spicy, and salty are among the common varieties.