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Prunes – why popping 6 daily is hugely beneficial

File Fact —

– Prunes — Prunus Domestica are simply dehydrated plums most commonly from the European species. 

– Not all plum varieties can be dried into prunes. 

– Most prunes are freestone cultivars, (the pit is easy to remove) 

– Prunes are 64% carbohydrates including dietary fiber, which contains sorbitol that can cause a laxative effect, 2% protein, high in vitamin K and minerals like copper and magnesium. 

– They are also rich in polyphenols and proanthocyanidins, which may work as antioxidants in the body. 

– Vitamin K, copper and magnesium are known to keep our bones strong. 

We are well aware that almost every disease in the body stems from inflammation or bone weakness —

Inflammation: Inflammation is a process by which your body’s white blood cells and the things they make protect you from infection from outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. (source: WebMD)

The most common reasons for chronic inflammation include: 

– Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, is where your body attacks healthy tissue. 

– Exposure to toxins, like pollution or industrial chemicals. 

– Untreated acute inflammation is from an infection or injury. 

– Inflammation can be either short-lived (chronic) or long lasting (acute). 

– Acute inflammation goes away within hours or days while chronic inflammation lasts months or years even after the trigger is gone. 

 

Osteoporosis: is a disease that weakens bones, making them more prone to fractures; it occurs when the body loses bone faster than it makes or repairs it. This makes bone density weaken over time. Older women are more prone to loss of bone density especially after menopause, a condition that arises as estrogen levels drop, and constant production of estrogen in the body is known to prevent bone loss.

 

Your daily consumption of prunes can save your body a lot of aches and pains, read on for some valuable information on the Prune aka Prunus Domestica. 

  • ‘Declining estrogen levels during menopause may trigger an increase in inflammation.’

A research and study at the American Physiological Society (APS) by lead author of the study Janhavi Damani on how a declining level of estrogen can trigger an increase in inflammation, and is a huge contributor to postmenopausal bone loss. Certain compounds in prunes may prevent inflammation. The purpose of the study was to look at the effect of two different doses of prune consumption on inflammatory markers in postmenopausal people.

The study —postmenopausal women with a low bone density score, a sign of osteoporosis participated in the study. A blood sample to measure inflammatory markers was taken at the beginning and at the end of twelve months. The participants were divided into three groups, one group was assigned to eat either 50gms of prunes daily (about six prunes), the second group, 100gms of prunes daily (about twelve prunes), and the third group no prunes at all, for a period of twelve months.

The findings — After examining the data, it was found that prune consumption did help with reducing inflammation.

“Our findings suggest that consuming about six to twelve prunes per day may potentially reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are markers of inflammation that might contribute to bone loss in menopausal women.”

Conclusion— Polyphenol extracts found in prunes can act as antioxidants, reducing inflammation in a special type of bone cell called osteoclasts. These play a vital role in the maintenance, repair, and remodeling of bone.

  • Inflammation is associated with the development of osteoporosis.

Calcium and vitamin D are the two most important vitamins to prevent decline in bone density and can also help prevent osteoporosis. 

Calcium —Dairy, nuts, nut milks, sesame seeds and canned fish that have bones are good sources of calcium. Vegetables such as; Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, water chestnuts and soybean, and other varieties of dried beans are high in calcium too. Make sure you include these foods in any combination to your daily diet. 

Vitamin D — is a bit tricky to get into your diet, as it’s something your body makes when your skin is exposed to UV light from the sun. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are high in vitamin D and some foods like processed milk and cereals are artificially fortified with vitamin D. The easy way out is to take vitamin D supplements especially during wintertime when going out in the sun may be difficult.

  • Prunes are rich in polyphenols and proanthocyanidins 

Known as a rich antioxidant, thus keeping inflammation at bay and correspondingly osteoporosis is strongly recommended. 

NOTE: Be careful if you aren’t used to eating prunes, too many in one sitting can upset your digestive tract due to their high fiber and sorbitol content. This can send you sprinting to the loo multiple times leading to weakness and dehydration. Listen to your body.

  • Weight-bearing exercise and monitoring through DEXA scans can also help keep osteoporosis away.

Activities like weight bearing exercises at a gym, walking, jogging, or playing tennis, which force your body to work against gravity, trigger your bones to become stronger.

Monitoring your bone health with DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans. DEXA scans use low levels of x-rays to measure your bone density and is a good way to monitor changes in bone density over time.

  • Prunes help with blood sugar control.

Despite being fairly high in carbohydrates, prunes do not cause huge spikes in blood sugar; this is attributed to the hormone Adiponectin that is a blood sugar regulator. Prunes increase levels of this hormone in the body. It is a known fact that prunes are high in fiber too and fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, helping spikes in blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 Diabetes.

  • Consuming prunes regularly may have a protective effect on heart health. 

Studies show that eating prunes daily does reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. It is the high fiber content, potassium and antioxidants have heart-protective effects. 

  • Prunes help overactive bladders.

An over active bladder can be controlled by adding fiber to your diet, prunes are high in fiber and can help deal with the discomfort caused by an over active bladder.

  • Rich in Iron.

Being rich in iron, consuming prunes help treat mild anemia, which could cause shortness of breath, irritability and fatigue.

  • Prunes aid weight management.

Prunes contain a lot of fiber, which slows digestion; this helps keep you full for longer periods of time. It is also a low glycemic index food, so the raise in blood sugar is slow, which keeps hunger away, aiding weight management.

NOTE: Eating prunes as snack can suppress hunger for longer than a low-fat cookie. 

To prune — or not to prune is the question on hand?

If you have family history of autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, heart disease or if you are menopausing, what will it cost you to add six prunes to your day?

The answer is clear and simple — Costs nothing much, tastes delicious, and its antioxidant benefits are huge. Incorporate it into your diet by eating them — 

As is — just pop them and chew, they are flavoursome, can be had as a dessert or an in-between snack.

In smoothies — cinnamon, prune, almond milk smoothie or crushed iced prune juice.

In salads — spinach and basil prune salad, pasta with roast chicken and prune sauce, avocado prune summer salad.

In breakfast cereals — with oatmeal, in a trail mix or pancakes with prune sauce.

As — jam or prune butter. 

NOTE-1: Make sure that you gradually increase your fiber intake and drink enough water.

NOTE-2: Keep the portion size in check; prunes are high in calories and easy to overeat.

Go ahead and add the six prunes!

 

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Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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