Prunes – or dried plums — don’t usually get a lot of attention, and if they do, it’s limited to how they help fight constipation because they are such a good source of fiber (100 grams of prunes contain approximately 6.1 grams of fiber). But, did you know that prunes (and plums) are one of the healthiest foods you can eat?
In addition to helping your colon stay healthy, prunes provide antioxidant protection, prevent pre-mature aging, promote cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of cancer and osteoporosis. Who knew?
Personally, I like to eat plums and prunes by themselves. Prunes have also been called Nature’s bone builder. In a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers revealed that postmenopausal women who ate more dried plums (prunes) had higher BMD (bone mineral density) levels than those who didn’t eat the fruit.
Eating a ¼-cup serving of prunes, or about four prunes, provide you with 12 percent of the daily value for fiber, 32 percent of the daily value for vitamin K and 9 percent of the daily value for potassium. The fiber in prunes helps lower cholesterol, and thus your heart disease risk, and increases feelings of fullness, keeping your digestive tract running smoothly so you are less likely to have constipation or other digestive issues. You need vitamin K for building strong bones and clotting blood, and you need potassium for keeping your nerves and muscles working properly, and limiting increases in blood pressure from consuming too much sodium.
A hundred grams of prunes (about ½ cup) provides at least 9 percent of your daily needs for the B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin B-6. B vitamins are necessary for your body to turn the food you eat into a source of energy, states Medline Plus. Prunes contain less than 4 percent of your daily needs for folate, vitamin A and vitamin C.
One of my favorite ways to slip prunes into a delicious dessert is to serve my Prune and Walnut Bars. Prunes and walnuts are both exceedingly high in antioxidant power. I’ve combined these two age-defying powerhouses into one great dessert.
Prune and Walnut Bars
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped prunes
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup Smart Balance Butter, softened
2 Tbs. coconut butter
1 1/4 cup organic sugar or xylitol
2 large eggs
1/2 cup egg substitute