How California Prunes Can Support Your Core Nutrition Goals

By Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN

As a registered dietitian, I spend a lot of time helping my clients and consumers strategize, personalize, and optimize their eating within their calorie cap, salary cap, and practicality cap. We all want foods with great taste, that can be prepared in haste and have minimal if any waste. In addition, so many of us fall short on getting in our recommended servings of produce every day in part due to the prep time, inconvenience or simply not thinking about it. As a sports dietitian who works with athletes from high school to the pros, I know that they want to spend their time in their sport, not necessarily in their kitchen.

My athletes are all about getting the most out of their food choices to optimize their performance. Being strong, quick, and having high energy levels are key to help athletes perform to the best of their ability. At the same time, foods that help to minimize digestive distress and inflammation while supporting the supporting structure should be part of their fuel box.

This is why I am singing the #prunetune! Superb foods are those that taste good and also provide added value from the standpoint of health and/or performance benefits. For my athletes, if their gut doesn’t feel good, they won’t perform well. Smart athletes include foods that benefit their heart, and certainly decreasing the risk of injury by optimizing bone health is a goal for all active people. So, what do California Prunes bring to the plate, bowl, or glass?

WHAT’S IN THEM FOR YOU?

  • Prunes are natural sources of sorbitol as well as fiber which may be the reason that they perform as well as OTC fiber supplements in helping with bowel regularity. My athletes would prefer food over medications, so prunes are a perfect way to benefit gut health every day.
  • Prunes contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are prebiotics and can help in promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. These microbes have a role to play in vitamin metabolism as well as support a healthy immune system to help keep us well.
  • Prunes can help to lower C-reactive Protein (CRP) which is a measure of inflammation. Lowered CRP levels may decrease the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Prunes contain soluble fiber and have a low glycemic index which may help to slow the rise in blood glucose after a meal and help to control blood glucose in individuals with diabetes.
  • Prunes may help with satiety resulting in feeling fuller for longer which may help to keep calories in check and make one’s weight loss efforts more successful and sustainable.
  • Prunes contain micronutrients including potassium, magnesium, boron, and Vitamin K as well as phytonutrients such as chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and rutin which may play a role in bone health to help support the supporting structure.

VERSATILITY OF PRUNES

My mantra is “produce every day in every way.” That being said, if you have limited time to shop, limited place to store produce, and minimal desire to prep foods, you need to be practical in your produce selections. The great thing about prunes is that:

  • They are available all year long in specialty stores as well as large supermarkets
  • There is no waste
  • The beauty of the simplicity – what you see is what you get

CULINARY APPLICATIONS

I love foods that can be used in many ways. Prunes are great right out of the container or bag, but the versatility makes them a great addition to your kitchen, too!

  • Prunes can be used in savory or sweet dishes – prunes added to Brussel sprouts minimizes the bitterness and maximizes the deliciousness
  • Prunes add chewiness to a pilaf or oatmeal
  • Prune puree is a great way to save calories by reducing the amount of sugar and fat needed in recipes
  • Prunes can be added to familiar foods to boost produce. Check out some of my favorite, easy, prune dishes.
    1. California Prune Breakfast Oat Pudding – pump up the nutritional benefits of your morning meal with prunes. This dish provides long-lasting energy in the dish to delay fatigue and help athletes go long and finish strong.
    2. California Prune Mole – prunes provide added taste and texture to traditional sauces like mole and BBQ sauce
    3. California Prune & Pumpkin Muffins – add prune puree to baked goods to reduce the oil and sugar content. These muffins are a tasty treat to help athletes replete.

BOTTOM LINE

Prunes can help you take care of your core and boost your nutrition score. For active individuals, prunes are a quick, easy fuel to minimize digestive distress and bone stress. Always available, affordable, with great taste, haste and zero waste – have prunes on your shelf to take care of your health! #purpleisthenewblack

  • Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LD

    Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN is the owner of Active Eating Advice – Be fit, fed and fearless – a nutrition consulting company. Her clients include The National Dairy Council, California Prune Board, The National Peanut Board, Potatoes USA, Gatorade, Ready Nutrition, General Mills and Douglas Labs. She is the nutrition consultant for the Kansas City Chiefs, Carnegie Mellon University athletics and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She was the sports dietitian for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Blue Jays, the Washington Nationals and the WNBA. Follow @boncilj