By Chris Mohr, PhD, RD
If prunes aren’t on your grocery shopping list yet, they will be once you learn about all the goodness of California Prunes. While some may think that prunes only help with ‘regularity,’ they are so much more! Here are 4 surprising facts about prunes, besides helping your digestion…
1. California is the world leader in agricultural production of prunes.
You will find about 46,000 acres of prune orchards located in the Golden State. California is the perfect location with the right mix of rich soil, sunlight and cool evening temperatures for harvest. California Prune growers take pride in their crop and are responsible for 99% of the U.S. total production and 40% of the world’s supply.
Not all plums are created equal. Only certain varieties can be dehydrated and are capable for harvest. The quality and taste of California Prunes did not happen overnight; growers have invested over 150 years perfecting their process.
2. Prunes may help bone integrity.
Yep, you read that right. Milk is not the only food source for bone health. Scientific research has found that simply eating a serving of five prunes a day may help slow and prevent bone loss. Nutrients that influence bone health, including boron, potassium and vitamin K, can be found in prunes. Prunes are also rich in phenolic compounds, which may inhibit bone resorption and stimulate bone formation.
How many California Prunes should you eat each day? Studies show that five to six prunes per day may help prevent bone loss in post-menopausal women. Preclinical animal and cell studies even suggest that prunes can actually help with bone formation and inhibit bone breakdown.1
3. They make a fantastic on-the-go snack AND versatile ingredient.
When you’re busy, making nutritious choices can be a challenge, I get it. Because prunes are a good source of fiber, and are low on the Glycemic Index scale, they can help you stay full in between meals while keeping your blood sugar stable. Plus, prunes are a great addition to your favorite meals because they offer additional nutritional benefits.
Speaking of nutrition, there’s a lot that prunes can offer besides fiber. Prunes are a nutrient powerhouse packed with vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin K, potassium and magnesium, that help support overall health and nutrition. They are also packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to protect DNA against damage, decrease inflammation and may help prevent cancer. Plus, they don’t contain added sugar, cholesterol, sodium or fat. This is pretty impressive from such a small food.2
Another benefit of prunes is they are shelf-stable making them easy to keep around the house. I like to have them on-hand at all times to quench a sweet-craving or throw on top of my cereal or salads. Whatever the reason, prunes are a great pantry-staple.
4. Beyond the digestive qualities, California Prunes promote overall gut health and support a strong immune system.
Last, but certainly not the least important…we know that prunes have fiber. A single serving of four to five California Prunes has 3 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber to help you maintain good digestive health.
Most Americans fall short with their fiber intake, consuming on average about 15 grams of fiber per day. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should target 38 grams.3 Fiber has been identified as a nutrient of public health concern, as under-consumption has been linked to unfavorable health conditions.2
Not only are prunes a great source of fiber, they also have the potential to improve the gut microbiome. There are trillions of bacteria living in the human gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota. While some of these bacteria cause illness and disease, many others are beneficial They contain sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol that is slowly absorbed into the gut. You may have recognized this ingredient in your chewing gum, but it is naturally found in prunes as well.
Since the gut microbiome is influenced by the food we eat and the environment around us, it makes sense that there are ways to make it healthier. Research shows that consuming prunes appear to help the body retain beneficial bacteria and microbial metabolism in the colon, which can actually protect against colon cancer.
And, as a gut effective fruit, California Prunes also support a strong immune system. Did you know that 70% of the body’s immune system lives in the gut? By maintaining a healthy gut, you are protecting and building your immune system to fight off harmful illnesses.
Naturally sweet and delicious, California Prunes have so much to offer. They make a wonderful ingredient swap for recipes, snacks and meals. They support good gut health, strong bones and a healthy heart. Next time you are perusing your grocery store, be sure to add this fruit to your shopping cart.
- J Nutr Biochem. 2016 Aug;34:73-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2016.04.007. Epub 2016 May 10.
- “Nutrition Research – California Prunes: Prunes. For Life.” California Prunes | Prunes. For Life., californiaprunes.org/for-partners/health-professionals/nutrition-research/.
- Larson, Holly. “Easy Ways to Boost Fiber in Your Daily Diet.” EatRight, www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/easy-ways-to-boost-fiber-in-your-daily-diet.
Chris Mohr, PhD, RD
Chris Mohr, PhD, RD is a nutrition spokesperson and consultant to a number of media outlets and corporations. Current and past clients include Under Armour, Reebok, Johnson and Johnson, the Johnson and Johnson Human Performance Institute, Deloitte, General Mills Bell Institute of Health, Clif Bar, Barilla, Gatorade, Nestle, and Nordic Naturals, among others. Dr. Mohr was the consulting Sports Nutritionist for the Cincinnati Bengals and University of Massachusetts Athletic Program and his expertise has offered him the opportunity to speak at the White House, the CIA, and to audiences in over 10 countries and almost all 50 states. Follow @mohrresults