Prunes: Not Just for Old Folks Anymore!

Senior patients with limited physical mobility are at an increased risk of pressure injuries. One of the ways we provide quality care to our senior patients is by ensuring regular assessments and early intervention (such as assistance with repositioning and hygienic care) to help prevent pressure injuries from occurring.

California Prunes are well-known for their digestive health benefits, but did you know that enjoying about five prunes per day can also help support the health of your heart and bones?

Filled with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants, California prunes are an important functional food to add to your favourite meals and snacks. In addition to having a handful of prunes after workout or tossing some into a salad, you can also purée prunes and add this nutrient-dense addition to smoothies, sauces, soups and baked goods. That will certainly help you enjoy 5 prunes each day!

Prunes from California

Prunes from California

What nutrients do prunes provide?

A serving of five prunes has 100 calories, 3 grams of fibre, and is a source of vitamin B2, vitamin K2, potassium, magnesium, and boron. This superfood also contains antioxidants including phenolics, neochlorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid. Prunes have a low glycemic index (29), meaning they won’t cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar levels.

Prunes for your bone health

California Prunes help keep bones strong. Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom explains that this beneficial effect is likely due to the combination of the nutrients found in prunes. “Prunes contain vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants, which are all associated with improved bone health,” says Rosenbloom.

For post-menopausal women with low bone density, studies show that eating just five or six prunes a day may help prevent bone loss.1 Plus, a recent review study noted that the phenolic compounds in prunes may be responsible for antioxidant activity that helps slow the processes involved in bone loss and may even promote bone formation.2 Prunes are great for bone health!

Prunes for your heart health

A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that women who eat five to six prunes per day had lower inflammation and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which help protect heart health.3 Prunes may also help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.4 These effects are largely due to the beneficial polyphenols in prunes, which include neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. Prunes also contain fibre, which is another nutrient that’s linked with lowering inflammation and protecting heart health.

Prunes for your digestive health

California Prunes play an important role in digestive health and are well known for their laxative effect. This effect is partly due to the insoluble fibre in prunes and to natural occurring sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol that is not well digested, so it helps ease bowel movements. Prunes also help enhance the gut microbiome, which is important for overall health.

Prunes and your fitness regime

With a nice mix of carbohydrates and potassium, California Prunes are a great snack after a workout. “Prunes provide a quick carb source to replenish glycogen stores, and also contain potassium to restore electrolytes that are lost through sweat,” says Rosenbloom. “Plus, prunes are filled with anti-inflammatory polyphenols to quell inflammation after a workout, as well as vitamin K to support strong bones.” And an extra bonus? Rosenbloom says that prunes are a non-perishable, easy-to-store, convenient, on-the-go snack option. Just toss some in a container and add them to your gym bag!

New ways to eat more prunes

Aim for five prunes a day to reap the benefits. Snack on a handful of prunes or mix them with nuts and seeds in a nourishing trail mix. Their sweet, slightly earthy taste is a great balance to savoury dishes, so try them in stews, pasta, salad, and flatbreads or sandwiches. They’re of course delicious in desserts and baked goods, too.

Rosenbloom says that a great way to eat more prunes is to whip up a prune purée and use it in your cooking and baking. Prune purée adds moisture and flavour to baked goods and boosts the nutritional value of smoothies, salad dressing, soups, sauces, sandwich spreads, and more.

To make prune purée: Combine 2 cups (500 mL) pitted California prunes and ½ cup (125 mL) hot water in a blender. Pulse to combine and blend until smooth, scraping the sides. Add more water if necessary to reach desired thickness. Store the purée in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four weeks.

Prune Puree

Prune Puree

To use prune purée in baked goods:

  • Swap for sugar: Use prune purée to replace a third or half of the sugar in a recipe.
  • Swap out eggs: Use ¼ cup (60 mL) of prune purée to replace one egg.
  • Swap for fat: Replace half the butter or oil in a recipe with an equal amount of prune purée.
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