Prunes are usually talked about with a hint of embarrassment, because, you know, saying you know about prunes is like admitting that you have a constipation problem. Yes, prunes are known as a help for constipation, but they have a bigger nutritional impact than just that.
Prunes are also called dried plums, because that’s what they are (and maybe they were renamed to be less embarrassing).
According to The Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst, prunes are a popular Northern European winter fruit because they are easily stored. They keep well in an air-tight container for up to 6 months, and even a little longer in the refrigerator.
Why should you care about prunes or dried plums? Because they are a great source of nutritional value.
- Prunes are a good source of fiber, with 3 grams fiber in 4 to 5 prunes. Half of the fiber is soluble, the type of fiber that helps cholesterol levels. Half of the fiber is insoluble, the type of fiber that keeps your digestion running smoothly.
- They contain sorbitol, thought to be a help with constipation.
- Prunes contain antioxidants, as well as potassium, some iron and vitamin A.
- Prune puree (click here for recipe) can be used as a fat substitute in baked goods. Prune puree adds moisture, and it is especially good in chocolate baked goods because the chocolate hides the prune flavor. (Click here for brownies made with prune puree; click here for other prune-containing recipes from the California Dried Plum people.)
Now, if constipation is a problem, either because of medication side-effects or another reason, here are a few proven health ideas to help:
- Add more fruit and vegetables to your day, consistently.
- Choose higher-fiber foods most of the time (whole grain breads and cereals).
- Drink plenty of water and other liquids every day.
- Keep active and keep moving.
- Stay calm; stress can affect bowel health.
Consider adding 4 to 5 prunes or dried plums to your day to help maintain good digestive health; you may not need to rely on the fiber supplements as much.