For individuals looking to improve heart health, can consuming prunes help support cardiovascular health?
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Prunes and Heart Health
Prunes, or dried plums, are fiber-rich fruits that are more nutrient-dense than fresh plums and help digestion and bowel movement. (Ellen Lever et al., 2019) New research suggests they could offer more than digestion and constipation relief, according to new studies presented at the American Society for Nutrition. Eating prunes daily can improve cholesterol levels and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Eating five to 10 prunes a day may support heart health.
- Heart health benefits of regular consumption were seen in men.
- In older women, regularly eating prunes had no negative effect on total cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels.
- Another study found that eating 50–100 grams or five to ten prunes daily was associated with reduced heart disease risks. (Mee Young Hong et al., 2021)
- The reductions in cholesterol and inflammation markers were because of improvements in antioxidant levels.
- The conclusion was that prunes can support cardiovascular health.
Prunes and Fresh Plums
Although studies have suggested that prunes can support heart health, that doesn’t mean fresh plums or prune juice can offer the same benefits. However, there are not many studies on the benefits of fresh plums or prune juice, but it is possible that they would. However, further research is needed. Fresh plums that have been dried in hot air improve the nutritional value and shelf life of the fruit, which could be the reason the dried version retains more nutrients. (Harjeet Singh Brar et al., 2020)
- Individuals may have to eat more plums to acquire the same benefits.
- Eating 5–10 prunes seems to be easier than trying to equal the same amount, or more, of fresh plums.
- But either option is recommended instead of prune juice as whole fruits have more fiber, make the body feel fuller, and are lower in calories.
Benefits For Young Individuals
Most of the research has been conducted on postmenopausal women and men over 55, but younger individuals can also benefit from eating prunes. A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is considered healthy, so adding prunes to one’s diet will add to health benefits. For individuals who don’t like prunes, fruits like apples and berries are also recommended for heart health. However, fruits only make up one part of the diet, and it is important to focus on a balanced diet with vegetables, legumes, and heart-healthy oils. Prunes contain a lot of fiber, so individuals are recommended to add them slowly into their daily routine, as adding too much at once can lead to cramping, bloating, and/or constipation.
Conquering Congestive Heart Failure
Lever, E., Scott, S. M., Louis, P., Emery, P. W., & Whelan, K. (2019). The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomised controlled trial. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 38(1), 165–173. doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2018.01.003
Hong, M. Y., Kern, M., Nakamichi-Lee, M., Abbaspour, N., Ahouraei Far, A., & Hooshmand, S. (2021). Dried Plum Consumption Improves Total Cholesterol and Antioxidant Capacity and Reduces Inflammation in Healthy Postmenopausal Women. Journal of medicinal food, 24(11), 1161–1168. doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2020.0142
Harjeet Singh Brar, Prabhjot Kaur, Jayasankar Subramanian, Gopu R. Nair & Ashutosh Singh (2020) Effect of Chemical Pretreatment on Drying Kinetics and Physio-chemical Characteristics of Yellow European Plums, International Journal of Fruit Science, 20:sup2, S252-S279, DOI: 10.1080/15538362.2020.1717403
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