Dried plums (Prunus Domestica)
ORIGIN AND TRAITS
Why is it that tasty and appetizing food is associated with unhealthy choices, while nutritious options are usually not as desirable? This question is commonplace when it comes to health and diet and it lies behind the eternal dilemma “Is food fuel for my body or is it pleasure?” Especially when it comes to cravings, we subconsciously have the idea that a bar of chocolate or a bag of chips is a satisfying afternoon.
While it is not easy to let go of unhealthy habits, there are food choices that can be a stepping-stone towards a healthier lifestyle. So, let’s alter the question, “What can be delicious, long-preserved, easy to grab, reduce the desire for something sweet and yet be nutritious?” Well, there isn’t much thought needed to say that dried plums is the answer.
In fact, dried plums (or prunes) are naturally sweet and can satisfy the desire for a delicacy, yet, due to their low Glycemic Index they are more slowly metabolized and help maintain normal blood glucose levels as opposed to sugar consumption. What’s more, the fact that they are packed with nutrients and are a convenient snack to carry and incorporate into a diet, makes them the ideal alternative to junk snacks full of preservatives.
BENEFITS AND HEALING PROPERTIES
Dried plums have been called “a handful of healthful bites’’. Consuming only 3-4 per day offers plenty of health benefits. A one-cup serving contains 12 grams of dietary fiber, which helps regulate cholesterol levels and protects against heart disease. Moreover, soluble fiber contributes to satiety as it decreases the digestion process and helps maintain a healthy weight.
The fact that plums are high in fiber and sorbitol makes them function as laxatives and are an effective remedy against constipation and constipation-related symptoms, promoting gut health. They also have antibacterial properties, promoting proper digestive and urinary health.
Prunes are among the foods with the highest antioxidant content as they are rich in polyphenols and flavonoids which protect against free radicals, offering anti-aging properties. High in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, prune consumption contributes to proper vision, aids in maintaining bone health and protects against osteoporosis.
A rich source of iron, and vitamins B, C, dried plums can also promote hair growth and strength, as well as, fight against hair loss and damage.
USE AND DOSAGE
The fact that dried plums are a nutritious, easy to pack and affordable snack for all times makes them ideal for consumption. Also, there are various ways in which you can benefit from their properties.
As prunes cause a feeling of satiety, they can be added in breakfast or as a midday snack as part of a balanced diet. They can be consumed plain, on-the-go, chopped on top of a bowl of cereal or in smoothies combined with other fruit.
For an extra protein intake, prunes are ideally combined with all sorts of nuts. Moreover, they add nutrients and flavor in various sweet or savory recipes and salads.
However, given their high caloric value, prunes should be consumed in moderation. A serving of 3-4 dried plums a day offers the benefits and energy needed.
RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONAL INTEREST
Dried plums have been the center of scientific research regarding their properties and the health benefits they offer.
As published in the US National Library of Medicine¹ and Science Daily², it is suggested that “dried plums may help improve bone mineral density by reducing markers of inflammation that increase the rate at which bone cells resorb or break down bone”.