Benefits of Prunes
All fruits (including prunes) are a natural source of important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (specific compounds found in edible plant foods). Research has shown that increased intakes of fruits and vegetables throughout life may help reduce risk of several chronic diseases of old age.
The exact components responsible for the protective effects of fruit and vegetables are not fully understood. It is likely that the unique combination of nutrients they contain such as vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals all work together to provide protection, rather than any specific individual component.
Although the best tests for identifying the antioxidant levels in different foods and also showing their benefit in terms of human health have yet to be agreed, laboratory testing has shown that prunes contain high amounts of specific phenolic compounds called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid as well containing lutein and zeazanthin. These phytochemicals may have a protective effect by, for example, their antioxidant action in the body.
The Government recommends eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day (for example, 3 California prunes can count as one portion). As stated on the Government's 5-A-Day website: "eating fruit and vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. They're also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer".
Ronald L. Prior, Liwei Gu, Xianli Wu, Robert A. Jacob, Gity Sotoudeh, Adel A. Kader, and Richard A. Cook, Plasma Antioxidant Capacity Changes Following a Meal as a Measure of the Ability of a Food to Alter In Vivo Antioxidant Status Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 26, No. 2, 170–181 (2007)
Bente L Halvorsen, Monica H Carlsen, Katherine M Phillips, Siv K Bøhn, Kari Holte, David R Jacobs Jr, and Rune Blomhof Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States1–3f Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:95–135.
Xianli Wu, Gary R. Beecher, Joanne M. Holden, David B. Haytowitz, Susan E. Gebhardt, And Ronald L. Prior Lipophilic and Hydrophilic Antioxidant Capacities of Common
Foods in the United States J. Agric. Food Chem. 2004, 52, 40264037
Vitamin and mineral benefits
Prunes are a good source of potassium. Potassium contributes to normal muscular and neurological function and contributes to normal blood pressure.
Prunes are high in potassium, providing 732mg per 100g. A 100g serving is 10-12 prunes which would supply 1/5 (20%) of the recommended adult daily potassium needs.
A single serving pack of prune juice (120ml) can provide over 15% (331mg) of your recommended daily potassium needs in one shot!
Prunes are a good source of vitamin K, which contributes to maintaining normal bone and normal blood coagulation.
Prunes are a source of copper, which contributes to (for example) normal skin and hair pigmentation and normal iron transport in the body.
Salt (Sodium chloride)
Great news- prunes are (naturally) salt- free, so daily snacking on prunes in place of those typical salty snacks will help you to cut your salt intake, as well as provide you with a filling between meal pick-me-up.
The full nutritional content of prunes is given in the table below:
Vitamin and mineral content of prunes
|Prunes (per 100g)||Prune juice (per 100ml)|
|Vitamin C/ ascorbic acid (mg)||0.6||4.1|
|Thiamin/ Vitamin B1 (mg)||0.051||0.016|
|Riboflavin/ Vitamin B2 (mg)||0.186||0.07|
|Niacin/ vitamin B3 (mg)||1.882||0.785|
|Pantothenic acid (mg)||0.422||0.107|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.205||0.218|
|Vitamin B12 (mg)||0||0|
|Vitamin A (IU)||781||3|
|Retinol/ Vitamin A (µg)||0||0|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.43||0.12|
|Vitamin K (µg)||59.5||3.4|
Prunes and Digestive Health
Prunes are a high fibre food. Fibre has been recognised for centuries as contributing to a healthy digestive system.
There are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Prunes contain both. Soluble fibre may help reduce blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels. Low intakes of insoluble fibre may cause constipation and contribute to some gut diseases such as diverticulitis. The World Cancer Research Fund has stated that foods containing dietary fibre probably reduce the risk of bowel cancer. To read their report please click here.
Fibre intake in the UK is lower than the adult recommended intake of 18g per day, particularly in women, who average about 13g per day (15g per day for men).
Does this matter? By adding bulk to the diet insoluble fibre may help stop constipation and help you feel fuller for longer, which not only helps you feel good but may also contribute to controlling how much you eat and hence your weight.
Prunes are naturally high in fibre, providing 7g fibre per 100g, that's around one sixth of an adult's recommended daily needs in just 4 to 5 prunes.
Prunes are a good source of fibre, being high both in soluble and insoluble fibre.
- Insoluble fibre binds water which helps to soften stools in the lower intestine, increases bulk and may help promote healthy bowel movements.
- Soluble fibre may help reduce blood cholesterol.
Prunes and prune juice also provide a supply of polyols. Polyols, including sorbitol found in prunes, are naturally occurring sugars which are not associated with dental caries and are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine.
Although prune juice does not contain fibre (unless fruit pulp or puree is added), it still provides sorbitol.
Did you know? Adequate fluid intake is also important for good digestive health - aim for 6-8 glasses (1.5-2l daily)
What's a good portion of prunes?
Californian prunes are so delicious, it's easy to snack on them, but you've no need to worry as research has shown that consuming up to 100g (that's 10-12) prunes daily does not cause any negative side effects in the gut. (Edralin 2004).
A standard portion is generally taken as around 4-5 prunes, that's 40g, which still provides you with around one sixth of an adult recommended daily intake for fibre.
Henderson L, Gregory J, Irving K, Swan G (2003) The National Diet & Nutrition Survey: adults aged 19 to 64 years. Energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol intake. TSO, London.
World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington, DC: AICR, 2007.
Edralin A. Lucas, PhD*Lisa J. Hammond, MS, RD' Veronica Mocanu, PhD, MDtAndrea B. Arquitt, PhD, RD*Amanda Trolinger, MS, RD' Dania A. Khalil, PhD, RD Brenda J. Smith, PhD* Do Y. Soung, MS* Bruce P. Daggy, PhD* Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD*
Daily Consumption of Dried Plum by Postmenopausal Women Does Not Cause Undesirable Changes in Bowel Function The Journal of Applied Research Vol. 4, NO. 1,2004
Prunes - low fat/low GI/low salt
Prunes are a great little fruit as they're naturally free from all those baddies- fat, saturated fat and salt. And that goes for prune juice too!
Too much fat and saturated fat in your diet may lead to obesity and insulin resistance, and can also increase blood levels of the 'bad' cholesterol which can cause heart disease. Too much salt is linked to increased risk of high blood pressure and strokes. So replacing high fat, high salt snacks with prunes is a great way to keep the fat and salt levels down.
There's another good reason why Californian prunes make excellent snack foods. Prunes have a low Glycaemic Index (GI) of 29. The Glycaemic Index ranks foods according to how quickly they release sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream when they are digested. Foods with a low GI, like prunes, release their sugars more gradually into the blood stream.
As part of a healthy balanced diet, Californian prunes can be a useful between meal snack to help stave off hunger and help you avoid giving in to any of the many alternative high fat/high calorie temptations.
Prunes are a low fat, low salt snack containing just around 20 calories per prune*
(*based on prune weighing 8g)
Another way to measure the overall glycaemic effect of a portion of food is to look at the glycaemic load (GL), which is calculated from the GI and takes account of the carbohydrate content of the food too. The glycaemic load of prunes is also low at 10 per 60g portion (Foster-Powell 2002).
An ideal carbohydrate snack for sports
Prunes have a low Glycaemic Index and contain naturally occurring sugars to provide energy, making them an ideal snack for playing sport.
Prunes provide around 64g per 100g carbohydrate. Prunes contain only naturally-occurring sugars such as sorbitol, with no added sugar - 100g of prunes provide 38g sugar. Two thirds of the sugar in prunes is in the form of glucose with most of the remaining third provided by fructose, and very little sucrose is present.
So, keep a pack of Californian prunes in your sports bag – they're a convenient snack to open anytime, anywhere.
Foster-Powell K, Holt SHA, Brand-Miller JC (2002) International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 76; 5–56.
California Prunes - the easy to share versatile snack!
High quality California prunes are very tasty, making an ideal snack for sharing – sweet, convenient bite sized fruit that's high on fibre and low on fat and salt.
VERSATILE California prunes also make a tasty addition to cereals, fruit smoothies, yoghurts, rice pudding, casseroles and even stir-fries! click here to try some of our recipes...
Don't assume these delicious goodies are for adults only!
Prunes make a surprisingly good snack for children – sweet, juicy, bite sized fruit that are good for sharing. Californian prunes meets the UK Government's regulations for school food (www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk), being free from added fat, sugar and salt. In fact this perfect snack is naturally fat and salt- free and contains no added sugar. Why not add a 2-3 portion pack to your children's lunch box – they're low cost and convenient, requiring no special storage. A fantastically easy fibre boost for children!
Have you had your 5 portions today?
Dried fruit, such as prunes can count towards one daily portion of fruit under the Government's '5 a day' initiative, (www.5aday.nhs.uk).
Just 3 California prunes (21-24g) is equivalent to 1 daily portion of fruit. So adding prunes to your breakfast bowl, or taking a handful when you get home in the evening will not only keep hunger at bay but will also be an easy step towards meeting your '5 a day' goal.
Other Benefits of California Prunes
Mood health and emotional wellbeing
It's now accepted that what we eat will have a bearing on our physical health, but there is now increasing evidence linking what we eat with our mental health, including mood and general wellbeing. Ensuring you eat a varied and balanced diet based largely on adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, high quality protein, vitamins, minerals and water is the best way to ensure a balanced mood and feelings of well being. So snacking on California prunes could contribute to improving our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing when included in a healthy balanced diet along with other fruit, raw vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, lean meat and oily fish, (refs).
Feeding Minds: the impact of food on mental health. Mental Health Foundation. January 2006 www.mentalhealth.org.uk
A pilot study investigating the effect of prune consumption on plaque pH carried out by Dr Wu from the University of Illinois-Chicago measured the effect of prune consumption on plaque pH compared to other common snack foods (e.g. other fruits, cookies). Preliminary results suggest that prunes do not cause a reduction in pH below the critical level which increases the risk of caries. So eating prunes and other dried fruit may possibly not increase risk of dental caries as previously thought but further research is needed to confirm this.