Most people enjoy dried plums or prunes which are sweet to taste and healthy enough for life. There are a lot of health benefits of dried plums or prunes, however there are also some side effects which must also be known. This article will talk about some of the health benefits and side effects of dried plums or prunes.
Health Benefits of Dried Plums or Prunes:
Dried plums or prunes are nutritious super fruits and are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fiber. Most important health benefits of dried plums or prunes include their heart health benefits, digestive health benefits, preventing and/or decreasing inflammation, and its weight loss benefits etc.
You can eat dried plums or prunes as a nutritious snack alone or also can eat on cereal, in salads or even blended with smoothies. Below we will talk on the health benefits in a more precise manner.
Health Benefits of Dried Plums or Prunes in Helping You Lose Weight :
It was concluded in a recent study by the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society that overweight or obese people who had dried plums or prunes regularly, lost 2 kgs within a period of 12 weeks. Dried plums or prunes are a good source of energy but it takes time to digest and thus leaves the person full for a longer period. This is also a great source of soluble fiber which further aids you in losing weight by preventing overeating.
Digestive Health Benefits of Dried Plums or Prunes:
Dried plums or prunes are proven to be a natural laxative for those individuals who are suffering from constipation and indigestion or poor digestion. Dried plums or prunes add bulk to fecal matter and reduce the transit time in the colon. Apart from this, they also promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine which aid in digestion.
Dried Plums or Prunes Aids in Treating Hepatitis:
We already know that dried plums or prunes have rich fiber content in them. This makes them highly beneficial in treating liver disorders. In a clinical study it was found that participants who had an increased level of liver enzymes because of damaged liver cells, were provided with 3 dried plums or prunes soaked in a glass of 250 ml of water overnight. After 8 weeks the participants showed significant reduction in bilirubin and transaminase, which suggested that it might be beneficial for individuals with liver disease.
One more health benefits of dried plums or prunes is that it helps in preventing osteoporosis and improving bone density. They are a significant source of boron which actually aids in enhancing bone density. One serving of dried plums or prunes is enough for fulfilling an individual's daily recommended intake of boron and thus in keeping your bones intact for a long time. A study suggested that prune diet worked as an alternative treatment option for individuals with osteoporosis.
Heart Health Benefits of Dried Plums or Prunes:
There are some fair heart health benefits of dried plums or prunes. Because of the presence of phytochemicals that act as excellent antioxidants, dried plums or prunes aid in preventing heart disease by destruction of arteries because of oxidation of plaque. Moreover, dried plums or prunes are loaded with fiber that also contributes to preventing heart disease. There was a study that found that individuals consuming rich sources of fiber had 12% reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease or CHD and 11% less cardiovascular diseases of CVD as compared to those eating the least, 5 grams regularly. So, dried plums or prunes rich in fiber are beneficial for patients with heart problems.
Dried Plums or Prunes Lowers Cholesterol:
Dried plums or prunes aids in lowering cholesterol. Fiber content present in the dried plum or prunes binds bile acids and aid in their excretion. In order to compensate for the loss of bile acids, the liver ups the synthesis of new bile acids with the help of cholesterol extracted from the bloodstream. This in turn aids in lowering the levels of blood cholesterol significantly.
Health Benefits of Dried Plums or Prunes for Diabetic Patients:
Although dried plums or prunes are a good simple sugars, they can be healthy and potential enough for diabetic patients. It has been postulated that due to its high fibre, fructose and sorbitol content, dried plums or prunes do not cause a rapid rise in the level of blood sugar. They delay the absorption of glucose by slowing down the rate at which food leaves the stomach. Soluble fiber present in dried plums or prunes increases insulin sensitivity and thus is good for preventing and also treating type 2 diabetes.
Dried Plums or Prunes Controls and Prevents Hypertension:
There is a rich amount of potassium content present in dried plums or prunes that aids in regulating blood pressure. About 100 gram of dried plums or prunes contains 745 mg of potassium.
One study found that only a single dose of dried plums or prunes resulted in significant reduction of blood pressure in the patients. One more study found that about 17000 participants with high potassium diet were least likely to develop high blood pressure or hypertension.
Side Effects of Dried Plums or Prunes:
Dried plums or prunes are prepared from dehydrated plums and are thus called dried plums. Both, purple and yellow plums can be used to make dried plums or prunes, which are high in nutrients and dietary fiber. However, consuming a lot of dried plums or prunes can cause several side effects like digestive issues, including diarrhea and a laxative dependency. More about the side effects are listed below.
Excess Consumption of Dried Plums or Prunes May Cause Diarrhea:
Dried plums or prunes may cause diarrhea. Many people have dietary fructose intolerance and this condition may lead to painful abdominal cramps along with diarrhea. Dried plums or prunes are loaded with rich amounts of sugar which can trigger such a problem. Even individuals who do not have dietary fructose intolerance may get diarrhea after eating dried plums or prunes. Dried plums or prunes are natural laxatives and contain sorbitol, a laxative compound. So, an unregulated dose or eating excess of these fruits can easily cause diarrhea.
One of the side effects of dried plums or prunes is that it has high calorific value. Usually we eat calorific foods all the times, eating dried plums or prunes adds extra calories in the diet. This calorie content gets converted in to fat.
Intestinal Gas and Bloating:
Dried plums or prunes comprises of complex carbohydrates and sugars that do not breakdown completely in the digestive tract. Thus, when the sugars reach the colon, the bacteria begin feeding on these undigested carbohydrates. These bacteria are responsible to cause intestinal gas and bloating.
Dried Plums or Prunes May Cause Blood Sugar Spike:
Dried plums or prunes have a rich amount of natural sugar and eating them in excess can cause blood sugar spike. These fruits also contain excess of soluble fiber, which means it does not have a very high impact on the blood sugar levels. It has a low glycemic index and can be paired with foods containing high glycemic index for a less dramatic change in blood sugar levels.
Dried Plums or Prunes May Cause Laxative Dependency:
Dried plums or prunes are generally used as irritant laxatives. However, individuals who suffer from frequent constipation, must not rely completely on dried plums or prunes for clearing their digestive system. This can cause laxative dependency and after a certain period of usage, withdrawal symptoms may be experienced by the individual. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include weight gain, constipation, fluid retention, etc.
Side Effects of Carcinogenicity from Dried Plums or Prunes:
There is a high concentration of acrylamide present in dried plums or prunes. Acrylamide is considered as a carcinogen and a neurotoxin. It is considered that eating dried plums or prunes is relatively safe in terms of causing neuropathic harm in any individual. However the carcinogenicity is a problem of concern as dried plums or prunes are known to be highly carcinogenic to animals when tested on the laboratory.
How Many Dried Plums or Prunes Should You Take?
As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you need to eat 1 ½ to 2 servings of the dried plums or prunes every day for a healthy diet, which can include 100% fruit juices and also dried fruits. A serving of dried plums or prunes is a half cup, while a serving og 100% prune juice is 1 cup. If you are not used to a high fiber rich diet then you need to start with a smaller serving, of 4-5 dried plums or prunes and then gradually increase your consumption so as to avoid digestive side effects.
Now we know that dried plums or prunes have several health benefits as well as their own set of side effects. However, you can still take them in moderation. You can take one or two dried plums or prunes in a day and that will not harm you; rather keep you energetic all throughout the day.