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Prunes aren't just for regular bowel movements
Prunes aren’t just for regular bowel movements.
Dried plums — or prunes — are among the highest antioxidant foods shown to help improve bone strength.
They have a unique nutrient and dietary bioactive profile and which exerts beneficial effects on bone. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that over half of Americans age 50+ have either osteoporosis or low bone mass - a serious cause of loss of quality of life.
The beneficial effects of prunes on bone health is thought to be in part due to the variety of phenolics present in the fruit, which increase the mineral content in our bones.
In early studies the level of prune intake originally found to bone-enhancing was fairly high at 100 grams, or 9 to 10 prunes a day.
Further research (2015) found that eating just 2 to 3 prunes a day helped reduce bone loss and increases bone density. They found that in a study group of 65 to 80 year-olds, 5 to 6 prunes a day can be as effective as 10 to 12. That's good news, as I usually eat 5 or 6 a day!
(Just FYI, 1 prune has 23 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fibre.)
This is great news!
Of course, eating prunes has another well-known effect as well.
Their laxative effect is mainly caused by two different ingredients: fibre and sorbitol.
Prunes are high in dietary fibre, with just one prune providing 3-percent of the recommended daily intake of fibre. They also contain a high percentage of a natural sugar - sorbitol - which functions as a laxative because it pulls moisture into the digestive tract and facilitates bowel movements.
As we age, our gastrointestinal tracts become more sluggish. Prunes can certainly help to "move" you, so to speak, especially when consumed with water or other fluids, and this keeps your bowels healthier.
Three other surprising health benefits of prunes
Here are three other little-known health benefits of eating prunes:
It turns out, that by eating prunes we get multiple bangs for our buck - for our bones, our bowels, energy, immune system and eyes!
Regarding EYE HEALTH, two carotenoids in prunes, lutein (pronounced loo-teen) and zeaxanthin (pronounced zee-uh-zan-thin), are antioxidants that are located in the eye. Scientists believe high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in these areas may protect the eye from damage due to oxidation. Lutein and zeaxanthin are commonly found in dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, and are well-absorbed from egg yolk. A large egg yolk contains 252 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin.
I enjoy eating prunes
Personally, I really enjoy eating prunes and would have no trouble eating 9 or 10 a day. But regularly I eat 5 or 6 seeded prunes, and I especially love those from California. (I never eat just 4 because I believe that 4 is an unlucky number!)
My bone strength is already far above average due to my regular resistance training, but if prunes can extra strength then I'll take it.
For other ideas, even though they’re a natural match with sweet dishes, think about using prunes in savory dishes. Try simmering prunes with apples in chicken broth to create a sauce that works with chicken and pork. Boil prunes until they're soft and then puree them to make a prune paste that can be spread on toast.
I like them in old fashioned stews to add extra texture and flavour.
OR, try this, my absolute favourite - Earl Grey Stewed Prunes, and have them for dessert with the best vanilla ice cream that I can afford.
How about you, do you enjoy eating ρ☈☋♫€ⓢ?
PS Not everyone agrees with the benefits of eating prunes, at least according to this classic "interrupt" headline 6 Serious Side Effects Of Prunes You Must Know
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter