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Got A Sweet Tooth? Surprising Sweet Snack That Can Take Care of Heart, Gut, Bones, Inflammation

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The Surprising Sugar Fix for Heart, Gut, Bones and Inflammation, According to Science

A balanced diet often includes foods enjoyed for taste as well as those consumed for specific benefits.

Prunes boast an impressive nutritional profile, brimming with a plethora of essential nutrients that confer significant health advantages.

Moreover, prunes are a source of boron, vitamin A, iron, magnesium, vitamin K, and numerous other vital nutrients crucial for optimal bodily functioning.

Here are some potential benefits you might enjoy.

Gut Health

According to research from 2018, individuals with a low-fiber diet who ingested either 80 g or 120 g of prunes daily experienced increased stool weight and more frequent bowel movements compared to those who didn’t consume prunes.

Consistent bowel movements and stool weight are signs of a healthy gut. Participants in this study who ate prunes didn’t face any negative side effects.

Prunes contain considerably more sorbitol compared to prune juice, with 11.2–15.5 g of sorbitol per 100 g of the dried fruit. Additionally, prunes are rich in fiber, facilitating the movement of stool in the digestive system.

Comparatively, 100 g of prune juice offers 1 g of fiber, whereas about 10 prunes (approximately 100 g) deliver 7.1 g of fiber.

In essence, consuming 10 prunes can provide close to a quarter of the 28–34 g daily fiber intake recommended for adults in the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Bone Health and Inflammation

Recent studies suggest that prunes offer benefits beyond just aiding digestion, including strengthening bones.

Research in the October 2022 edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that consuming five or six prunes daily can help post-menopausal women retain hip bone mineral density, possibly leading to fewer fractures. The study, which monitored 235 older women over 12 months, theorized that prunes might reduce inflammatory agents linked to bone loss.

Post-menopause, women often face rapid bone density loss and have a higher risk of osteoporosis compared to men. Around three-fourths of all hip fractures occur in women, and such injuries can lead to loss of independence and increased mortality risk. The National Institutes of Health has noted that over half of all women aged 50 and above will suffer a hip, wrist, or spine fracture in their lifetimes.

Dr. Harold Rosen, from the Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Center affiliated with Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, mentions that “even if prunes didn’t work that well for bones, you’d need a very low bar to recommend eating them” as their other health advantages make them worth consuming.

Blood Pressure Regulation

Prunes are a valuable source of potassium, an essential nutrient for managing blood pressure. The American Heart Association advises daily intakes of 3,400 mg for men and 2,600 mg for women. With prunes providing 732 mg of potassium per serving, they can contribute significantly to your daily potassium goal.

Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Although research specifically on prunes and blood pressure is limited, numerous studies vouch for the blood pressure-reducing properties of potassium.

Heart Health

Cardiovascular ailments are major causes of mortality in the US, with risk factors like high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and age. Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables is a recommended dietary practice to reduce these risks.

Recent findings presented at the American Society of Nutrition annual event show that consistent prune consumption has positive impacts on several cardiovascular health markers. The studies observed:

  • Men experienced improved HDL cholesterol levels and lowered oxidative stress after prolonged prune consumption.
  • Older women showed no negative changes in various heart disease-related metabolic measures.

Considering prunes have no added sugars, they can support a healthy diet and potentially enhance cardiovascular outcomes.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

While prunes and their juice are generally safe to consume, some people might experience increased gas. It’s worth noting that prune juice is calorie-rich and has a high sugar content. Excessive sugar intake can contribute to weight and blood sugar issues. However, prunes, despite having sugar and calories, have been suggested to have a minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.

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Image Credit: Shutterstock

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