By Jim White, RDN
What do you think of when you think about California Prunes? Most immediately, people tend to think of their wonderful effects on digestion and gut health. While that is true, California Prunes are also incredibly cardioprotective. With over 18 million adults over the age of 20 suffering from coronary artery disease (CAD) and 647,000 American deaths from heart disease yearly, heart health is of utmost importance.1
A serving size of four to five prunes contains 3 grams of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. Women and men need about 25 grams and 38 grams of fiber per day respectively. Soluble fiber helps to manage serum cholesterol levels by absorbing water and sequestering cholesterol out of the body.2 Prunes also include potassium which can help minimize the effects of sodium in the diet.
A 2010 study evaluated 259 pre-hypertensive individuals broken into three groups. The first group consumed prune juice and ate three prunes daily the second group consumed prune juice and ate six prunes daily and the control group consumed plain water on an empty stomach. Over the course of the 8-week study, the blood pressure of the prune-consuming groups was reduced significantly. The control group had increased serum HDL levels whereas the prune-consuming group had significantly reduced serum cholesterol and LDL levels.2
As a health and fitness expert, I often recommend California Prunes to my clients as part of a healthy, balanced diet. One of my clients shared his story and how prunes played a role in his health transformation.
“For most of my adult life, I had been slowly gaining weight and exercising less for a variety of reasons (excuses). This, in turn, led to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other issues. I couldn’t have imagined how much my life would be changed for the better when I decided to take the leap of faith. By sticking with it, I was able to lose an amazing 100 pounds in 2 years. Because of my new healthy lifestyle, my doctor has taken me completely off my blood pressure and cholesterol medications and is weaning me off the others. I included foods high in fiber such as prunes which helped keep me full longer and lowered my blood pressure. Also, lean proteins like fish, chicken, and eggs to help me build lean muscles. Foods like quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes gave me the energy I needed to finish my workouts. I also had plenty of vegetables to keep me healthy.”
Curious to learn more about California Prunes? Here are 3 fun facts that you may not know!
- California Prunes are tree-ripened, so farmers determine harvest time by checking fruit firmness and sugar content.
- A California Prunes tree needs 8-12 years before it reaches a full production capacity of 150 to 300 pounds of raw fruit per year. And, three pounds of fresh fruit becomes one pound of delicious California Prunes.
- California Prunes are enjoyed globally – Europe, Canada and Asian markets such as Japan, China and South Korea are among the top exports.
Due to their premium taste and quality, be sure to check the package to ensure you’re buying prunes from California.
So now that we know the benefits of California Prunes, how do we include them in the diet? Prunes can serve as a sweet addition to a bowl of oatmeal, can top a salad, be added to a smoothie or even form a puree to top pork tenderloin. Prunes are incredibly versatile, and their rich, deep flavor can complement many dishes. For even more nutrition information and recipe inspiration, visit the California Prunes Wellness Hub.
- Heart Disease Facts. (2019, December 2). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
- Ahmed, T., Sadia, H., Batool, S., Janjua, A., & Shuja, F. (2010). Use of prunes as a control of hypertension. Journal of Ayub Medical College. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21409897
- California Prune Board. (2019). California Prunes Nutrition Handbook. Pages 24 and 41
Jim White is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, ACSM Exercise Physiologist, and Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. He currently acts as a spokesman for California Prunes. Jim has acted as the media spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics where he communicated the nation’s health messages to consumers all over the world. Follow @ jimwhitefit.com.