Benefits Of Prunes
Prunes are the dried version of European plums (mostly) and are renowned for their sweet chewy flavor and high nutritional content. They are classified under the botanical name ‘Prunus domestica’ and are available all round the year. They are generally oval in shape’ with an easily removable pit. The health benefits of the fruit are many. For instance, the regular intake of the prunes is essential for the maintenance of a number of body systems, like the cardio-vascular system, respiratory system etc. The fruit can not only be eaten raw, but can also be used in preparing certain desserts and sweet dishes. The process of drying plums to make prunes started in the mid-19th century and was later transported to different parts of Europe, due to the intermixing of customs and traditions. Today, more than 1000 varieties of plums are grown worldwide for the purpose of drying and making prunes. Check the pointers given below to know all about the health benefits of consuming prunes.
Health Benefits Of Eating Prunes
- Prunes are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene (a natural antioxidant). These two vitamins play a key role in maintaining healthy eye-sight and are also used to fight acne, resulting in a smooth radiant skin.
- The dietary fiber present in the fruit aids weight loss, as it produces a sense of fullness in the stomach.
- The insoluble dietary fiber in prunes contributes to the growth of certain useful bacteria in the intestine. Hence, it is regarded as a natural probiotic.
- The soluble dietary fiber of the fruit, on the other hand, promotes the maintenance of a healthy colon and is useful in certain conditions, like hemorrhoids, constipation, diverticular disorders and so on.
- A high source of iron, prunes aid in the process of respiration at the cellular level, by synthesizing the oxygen carrier, hemoglobin.
- The unique combination of low sodium levels and high potassium levels present in the fruit is essential to maintain normal blood pressure level and even lowers water retention in the body. Besides this, potassium also helps in the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
- Another mineral that prunes are rich in is magnesium. The key functions of this mineral are promoting relaxation (muscles, nerves and blood vessels), relieving muscle soreness, alleviating symptoms of asthma and even migraine headaches.
- It is estimated that a single cup of prunes (174 g) contains around 0.5 mg of copper. Regular and proper intake of the fruit lowers the occurrence of inflammatory conditions like RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). Also, the copper helps to uphold the elasticity of blood vessels, ligaments and joints.
- Another trace mineral present in prunes is manganese. This is an important co-factor in promoting a number of enzymatic actions in the body.
- Certain phenolic compounds are present in the fruit, like phytonutrients, chlorogenic acid and neochlorogenic acid. These compounds act as antioxidants that remove harmful free radicals from the body.
- Strictly avoid the intake of prunes in case of untreated or existing kidney and gall bladder problems. The fruit contains certain amount of oxalates, which when too concentrated in body fluids can become crystallizes and cause health problems. Studies have indicated that oxalates interfere with the absorption of calcium from the body.
- If the prunes are extremely dry, place them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. This will help refresh them up.
- To reduce the cooking time for prunes, soak them in water or juice for some time. This will make them softer and it will be easier to cook them.
- Prunes are used to make various types of desserts, tarts and other sweet dishes.