Heap of juicy prunes in bowl

14 Interesting Facts About Prunes

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Prunes are dried plums, known for their sweet taste and health benefits. Though many think of prunes as only being good for digestive health, they offer a variety of nutrients and have some fascinating history behind them. Read on for 14 interesting facts about this underrated superfood.

A Brief History of Prunes

Prunes have been cultivated and enjoyed for thousands of years:

  • Evidence shows that prunes were dried and eaten in the Middle East as early as 6,000 BC. They were highly valued for their sweet taste and ability to preserve well for long periods.
  • Prunes were later brought to Europe by travelers along the Silk Road. They became especially popular in France and Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Prune production began in the United States in the mid-1800s as French immigrants established orchards in Oregon and California. These areas still lead global prune production today.

Nutrition Facts

Heap of juicy prunes in bowl

Despite their small size, prunes pack a nutritious punch:

  • A 100-gram serving of prunes contains over 240 calories, 2 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber and 55 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Prunes are high in essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin K, potassium, copper and manganese.
  • They also contain beneficial plant compounds like neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid, which act as antioxidants in the body.

Health Benefits

Research shows that consuming prunes offers many potential health benefits:

  • Digestive Health – Prunes are most well-known for promoting digestive regularity. They contain insoluble fiber that helps food move through the intestines. Additionally, prunes contain sorbitol, which acts as a natural laxative.
  • Bone Health – Several studies have found that eating prunes can improve bone mineral density and bone structure in postmenopausal women due to their high boron content.
  • Heart Health – The fiber, potassium and antioxidants in prunes support heart health by helping lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Diabetes Management – The fiber in prunes helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream after meals.

Fun Prune Facts

Beyond nutrition, here are some fun, lesser-known tidbits about prunes:

  • California produces nearly all of the prunes grown in the United States and about 40% of the world’s prunes.
  • The town of Sunsweet, California changed its name to Sunsweet Prune in 1922 to honor the growing prune industry.
  • Prune juice was a popular beverage during World War II when other juices were difficult to obtain.
  • Prunes can help prevent bone loss in astronauts due to extended time in zero-gravity environments.
  • Prunes can be used to make desserts like prune pie, prune cake, prune bread, or prune ice cream!
black grapes

Common Questions About Prunes

Do prunes help you poop?

Yes! Prunes are a natural laxative due to their high fiber content, sorbitol, and phenolic compounds. These components help add bulk to stool, pull water into the intestines, and stimulate bowel movements.

Are prunes good for weight loss?

Prunes can support weight loss efforts due to their fiber content, which promotes feelings of fullness and helps slow digestion. However, they are still high in natural sugar and calories, so portions should be monitored.

Can you eat too many prunes?

Eating too many prunes can lead to gas, bloating or diarrhea due to their laxative effects. Stick to about 1/4 cup of prunes per day to get the health benefits without overdoing it on the natural sugars.

Are prunes and plums the same thing?

Prunes are just a variety of plums that have been dried out to remove most of their water content. So prunes could be considered a concentrated, preserved form of plums.

Can dogs eat prunes?

In small quantities, prunes are safe for dogs to eat and can help with their digestive regularity. However, the high sugar content means they should only be fed occasionally and in moderation to prevent weight gain or diarrhea.

Do prunes need to be refrigerated?

Since prunes are dried, they have a naturally long shelf life and do not require refrigeration. Store them in a cool, dark place like a pantry for up to 6 months. Refrigeration can help extend their shelf life even longer.

So there you have it – 14 insightful facts about prunes! From their impressive nutrient content to their hilarious name origin stories, prunes prove they are much more intriguing than their reputation suggests. Next time you see prunes, don’t hesitate to give them a try. Your body will thank you!

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