Eating A Handful Of Prunes A Day May Have An Astonishing Impact On Your Health

Can you think of a more visually unappealing fruit than the humble prune? Let’s just say that they won’t be winning any beauty contests any time soon… But what prunes lack in good looks, they more than make up for in flavor and health benefits. That’s right: eating a portion of prunes a day could have an unbelievable impact on your body.

So, yes, this is a classic case of “don’t judge a book by its cover,” as prunes are hiding plenty of goodness beneath their shriveled – and frankly kind of gross – skins. But that may not be the only surprise in store for you right now. Why? Well, have you ever wondered what a prune really is?

If you haven’t, brace yourself. You see, a prune is just a dried-out plum. That means, of course, that they’re grown on trees. And even the biggest plum fiend couldn’t scarf down the amount of fruit grown on a single mature tree – a whopping 300 pounds a year. That’s enough for a heck of a lot of pies.

But how do plums become prunes? What’s the process? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. Let’s use the French Château de Born’s approach as an example. After the plums are removed from their trees, they’re placed inside hot air ovens to dry them out. Once the door’s shut, the fruit will sit for roughly 18 hours. Then, voilà, you have wrinkly goodness. That’s all there is to it.

But don’t assume French farmers are the only ones making prunes. The folks in California would definitely have something to say about that! Back in 2018, the Golden State had plum trees that covered an incredible 45,000 acres of land. This meant Californian farms were responsible for four-tenths of the planet’s entire prune output – which is pretty awesome when you think about it.

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Mind you, China sits at the top of the tree when it comes to prunes. On an annual basis, the country churns out around six million tonnes of the shriveled fruit. No, that’s not a typo. Talk about a big effort. Anyway, unlike some of their famous counterparts, the dried plums are surprisingly versatile in the kitchen.

As per the BBC Good Food website, you can include prunes in dishes such as cock-a-leekie soup or a winter fruit salad. Meanwhile, famous chefs such as Mary Berry and Rick Stein have stuck the dried plums into meals with pork and beef respectively. Raymond Blanc is a fan of the former combination as well.

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And of course, we can’t forget about prune juice. Sure, it might not be the tastiest fruit beverage out there, but it’s an option to consider. After all, Star Trek’s Lieutenant Worf swears by it as a “warrior’s drink.” Hey, if it’s good enough for a Klingon, who are we to argue?!

Yet despite that versatility, prunes have developed a somewhat infamous rap throughout the years. To share their take on it, a member of the Australian Prune Industry spoke to the SBS website in July 2020. Her name is Ann Furner, and she plies her trade as a plum farmer too.

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Furner said, “I don’t know how this came about, but prunes have become known as ‘nanna food’ – the fruit that grandma used to feed you. So most of Australia’s prunes are mostly only being consumed by two main demographic groups: babies, purchased for them by their parents, and older people.”

“[And] one of the comments we hear [when promoting prunes at food and wine shows] is, ‘Are you giving out toilet paper?’” Furner then added. “Unfortunately prunes do have a bad reputation, but we’re trying to change that.” As they should. Like we mentioned earlier, the dried plums are actually full of health benefits.

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Keeping that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how a serving of prunes will affect your body. To kick things off, we’ll focus on digestion. As Furner just noted, plenty of people are convinced that the shriveled fruit can cause upset stomachs. Do they have a valid case?

Well, prunes can aid a person’s battle against constipation thanks to their fiber content. Yes, if you consume six of them during the day, you’ll be provided with around one-seventh of an ounce. To give that number a bit more context, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shared a guide.

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According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2015-2020,” guys under 30 should be consuming 1.2 ounces of dietary fiber every day. As for their female counterparts, they require about an ounce. From there, the figures drop as you get older, with men and ladies at 51-plus needing an ounce and about three-quarters of an ounce individually.

So those six prunes could give you a significant portion of your daily fiber intake. Not bad. How about prune juice, though? Is that just as effective? In truth, the roughage is somewhat diluted in the drink, yet it isn’t entirely gone. On top of that, the beverage’s other contents can also aid your body.

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But sticking with the fiber contents for now, did you know that prunes can assist people with bladder issues as well? Constipation is one of numerous reasons an individual might be making frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate, as it applies force to the vital organ. If you’re in that position, the Cleveland Clinic website offered some advice.

The health website suggested that you should combine three ingredients at the start of each day. These include a 75 percent cup of prune juice and separate cups of applesauce and unprocessed wheat bran. Then, once you’ve stirred them up, pour the resulting blend on to a couple of teaspoons to ingest.

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, that might ease your constipation and lessen the painful strain on your bladder thanks to a knock-on effect. Talk about a double-whammy! Anyway, how else can prunes affect your body? Well, the fruit is loaded with different vitamins, ranging from vitamin A to vitamin K.

For instance, Healthline noted that half-a-cup of prunes housed over 50 micrograms of vitamin K. Incredibly, that’s 65 percent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily intake. This particular molecule is known for coagulating your blood, which aids the healing of cuts or scrapes after an accident.

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Using that same prune measurement, the vitamin A contents come in at nearly 680 I.U. Compared to the previous vitamin, that’s just 14 percent of the recommended daily intake. Meanwhile, there’s roughly 0.18 milligrams of vitamin B6 alongside that as well. Plus, we can’t forget about the vitamin C that’s also housed in there.

Like we said, the prunes are loaded! And the vast majority of those vitamins carry over into the juice too. So if you’re running low on vitamin C or B6, then it might be an idea to incorporate the aforementioned items into your diet every day. It certainly can’t hurt.

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Moving away from the vitamins, let’s focus on another nutrient that you can find in prunes. A decent amount of potassium is sitting below the shriveled skin. How does this particular electrolyte aid the human body? Well, it’s actually responsible for a number of very important jobs.

Yes, potassium aids your blood pressure readings, the beating rhythm of your heart, your muscles and your nerves. It can assist your stomach as well. Covers quite a bit of ground, doesn’t it? On that note, you’re probably curious as to how much of the nutrient is housed within a serving of prunes. Is there a lot?

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A half-cup has close to 640 milligrams. During the day, the vast majority of people are expected to take in potassium measurements of roughly 4,700 milligrams. So the aforementioned amount in the prunes covers around 14 percent of that figure. Not bad at all! That’s a good way to boost your numbers.

Speaking of boosts, that brings us on to our next health benefit. You see, there’s a possibility that prunes could assist the strengthening of a person’s muscles and bones. This is thanks to a substance known as boron, which the fruit produces. And it might be very helpful for those who’ve been exposed to radiation.

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Back in February 2016, the Scientific Reports journal published a paper on this subject. In the report, the researchers looked to see if prunes could have a positive impact on the bone density of animals after taking in radiation. By the end, they had some promising results to share with the public.

As per the report, the contents of the prunes essentially shielded the exposed bone marrow. Due to that, the test subjects didn’t suffer any “bone density loss.” Pretty intriguing, wouldn’t you say? To sit alongside that, a different project from 2016 also suggested that the dried food could fight osteoporosis too.

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But the benefits don’t end there. Prunes contain a healthy amount of iron along with all the other vitamins and nutrients. So if you’re anemic, they’re worth a try. What kind of measurements are in there, though? Is it enough to make a big difference should you be running low?

You might be surprised. When analyzing a half-cup of dried plums, Healthline revealed that it contained an iron measurement of around 0.81 milligrams. That’s 4.5 percent of the Food and Drug Administration’s recommended intake for the day. Yet the same amount of prune juice produced some jaw-dropping numbers in comparison.

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Incredibly, the prune juice boasted three milligrams of iron. In total, that would cover just under 20 percent of your suggested daily intake. What a difference! That’s one powerful beverage, right? Yet anemics aren’t the only individuals that stand to help their bodies by welcoming the fruit into their diets.

For instance, those of you who suffer with cholesterol issues might want to listen up. As it turns out, a helping of prunes could potentially stave off the threat of atherosclerosis. Too much plaque in your blood vessels sparks this particular ailment, and you can suffer heart attacks or strokes as a result.

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So how do the prunes combat that? What good do they do? Well, a research project from 2009 claimed that the dried food item’s antioxidants could play a big role in keeping cholesterol under control. Meanwhile, a different paper in 2010 noted that the fiber contents were possibly responsible. It’s intriguing stuff.

Going back to the antioxidants, though, they tie into the next potential health benefit. Yes, a diet containing dried plums might lessen your chances of developing lung cancer or emphysema in the future. The aforementioned compounds are known to protect cells from harm when you ingest them.

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And if that wasn’t enough, it may be that prunes could shield you from colon cancer as well. That idea came up in a joint project from the University of North Carolina and Texas A&M University. The researchers believed that the fruit would boost the “good” bacteria in your bowels, cutting down the cancer chances.

That’s a lot to take in! Who’d have thought that prunes could affect your body to such an extent? Yet it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The dried plums can cause some negative issues if you overindulge. To explain more, a representative from the Dietitians Association spoke to Australian TV network SBS in July 2020.

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Joel Feren told the network, “If we eat too many prunes, they will most likely give us the runs.” In his opinion, the ideal amount of dried plums to consume each day is three or four. That’s a measurement of roughly an ounce. Should you go over it, though, here are the things to consider.

Alongside the potential stomach issues, your weight could be affected too. Six prunes contain just under 140 calories. Plus, that portion also harbors sugar measurements of about three-quarters of an ounce. That’s a massive figure when looking at the American Heart Association’s daily recommendations. Yes, guys and ladies should ideally consume about 1.4 ounces and 0.9 ounces respectively.

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And if you’re suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, Feren had some further words of warning. He continued, “Prunes contain two active ingredients – sorbitol and chlorogenic acid. Both of these compounds have been shown to stimulate intestinal movement.” He then zoned in on the former substance, revealing the impact it can have.

Feren explained, “[Sorbitol is] a short-chain carbohydrate that can be malabsorbed in some people. And that could cause undesirable symptoms like irregular bowel movements, cramping and bloating.” But despite the potential drawbacks, the food expert offered a bit of advice to those who might be hesitant in adding prunes to their diet.

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“Test the waters first,” Feren added. “Eat one or two prunes a day and then, if that has an impact, curb your intake. Or [if there are no effects], slowly increase the quantity to three, four or five.” Given the health benefits that come from consuming the fruit, it’s got to be worth a go!

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