Add this nutritional powerhouse to your daily routine for an all-round goodness boost
They may not be the first thing that spring to mind when you’re searching for a snack, but prunes are making a comeback. Thanks to numerous studies touting their health benefits and a helpful re-brand as ‘dried plums’ (which of course, is precisely what they are), prunes have reclaimed their share of the spotlight alongside raisins, dates and dried apricots. They can be added to savoury and sweet dishes, and are great for on-the-go snacking.
The NHS recommends that our daily dose of fibre should be about 30g, but with the average Brit getting only 18g per day, studies show that many of us are falling short of this target. Thankfully, there’s a quick and easy answer to getting your fibre fix, and it takes the slightly wrinkled shape of the prune. Eating just one of these little fruits will provide you with 3% of your recommended fibre intake, so you won’t need many to make a noticeable difference to your to health. Fibre is essential in keeping the digestive tract flowing, and sorbitol, a natural sugar also present in prunes, helps by pulling moisture into the intestines.
However, aiding in digestion isn’t the only benefit prunes have to offer; their high vitamin A content makes them ideal for maintaining optimal vision and they are packed with potassium, which supports proper functioning of the heart and nervous system. It may surprise you to learn that prunes are also an excellent source of antioxidants – even more so than berries – and according to Florida State University, they are also a go-to option if you’re trying to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Evidence from a recent study suggested that eating just six to 10 prunes a day could significantly improve bone density and may even reverse deterioration, so this is one healthy snack you won’t want to miss out on.
Prunes are a simple ingredient, readily available at most supermarkets and very easy to work with in the kitchen. Endlessly versatile, they can be added to porridge at breakfast time, or even incorporated into bakes for a healthy sweet kick. If you struggle to drink the recommended 2 litres of water per day, drinking prune juice or adding it to smoothies makes a great alternative. Turn to page 55 to see some delicious and energising smoothie recipes – the perfect choice for staying hydrated and getting your daily dose of fibre at the same time. As well as this, dried fruits are great paired with meat in hearty, flavour-packed stews, so this can be an easy way to up your five-a-day.