Being a few pounds over weight is no laughing matter, so before you start with the prune jokes, you need to know that these plump wrinkly little fruits can be a sweet addition to anyone’s weight loss efforts.
All kidding aside, prunes are known for their laxative effect. That is because they are high in fiber. Anyone who has been following The Hound’s posts on healthy weight loss, knows the value of fiber when it comes to dieting. A prune is a dried plum, just like a raisin is a dried grape. Maybe because of all the “baggage” attached to the name “prunes” – in 2001 the FDA officially changed the name of the fruit to “dried plums.” But no matter what you call them, they can be a great between meal snack to help you reach your weight loss goals.
Getting back to that reputation. It isn’t only the fiber in prunes that make them one of world’s best natural laxatives, prunes also naturally contain Sorbitol, a carbohydrate that your body does not absorb well. Sorbitol is used as a laxative, and an artificial sweetener, and can cause diarrhea in people who are sensitive to it. So if you have had a problem with sugar- free candies for example, that contain Sorbitol, keep your consumption of prunes to a minimum.
Otherwise snack away! However, even people that have never had a problem with prunes or Sorbitol should not go overboard. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests no more than half of a cup at a time.
Other Health Benefits of Prunes
Prunes are also a good source of iron and vitamin A. They are also high in potassium. Since they come from plums, they have the antioxidant benefits of the dark fruit phenols found in plums. They also have significant amounts of beta-carotenes.
Prunes are great right out of the bag as a between meal snack, or to make up one of your five servings of fruit per day. On the go you can combine them with dried apricots and sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds for a healthy “trail mix.” Just keep in mind if you are on a reduced calorie diet, the calories in prunes can add up, as each large prune has about 20 calories.
If you’re not crazy about eating whole prunes, try little bits of prunes in your baking. They can add sweetness, flavor, and fiber to healthy whole-grain breads, snack bars, even waffles and pancakes.
Did you know that prune puree could be used in any baking recipe as a fat free substitute for butter, margarine, shortening, or oil? To make the puree just combine eight ounces of pitted prunes and six tablespoons of hot water in a food processor.
Replace in your baked good recipes with half the amount of the prune puree. For example, if the recipe calls for one cup of butter, substitute a half-cup of prune puree. Its flavor combines particularly well with chocolate-based desserts.
Once made, the prune puree should keep for about a week or so in your refrigerator.
So stop thinking of prunes as just your grandma’s and grandpa’s cure for constipation, and instead let this rich in fiber sweet treat help you stay fuller longer, and take off a few unwanted pounds and inches.