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Associated with wrinkles and digestive problems, prunes have a rather drab public image, yet the truth about this dried fruit could not be further from its reputation. In fact, to give this fruit the credit it deserves and upgrade its image, its name has officially been changed from prunes to ‘dried plums’ (which they in fact are).

Dried plums are well known to be the best natural remedy for constipation due to their high fibre content. However, there is much more to this wrinkly dried fruit. Here are some important nutritional and health benefits.

  • Antioxidants. Dried plums are a top source of the antioxidant compound phenol – the primary defence against cellular breakdown and premature aging. Phenols in dried plums block free radicals from damaging the fat that makes up the outer membranes of brain and skin cells.
  • Calcium. Dried plums contain calcium and are highly recommended for post-menopausal women who are at an especially high risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Fibre. Other than ‘regularity’ the fibre content in dried plums increases insulin sensitivity which can prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. Fibre slows down the rate at which food leaves the stomach; this not only helps normalise blood sugar levels (by delaying the absorption of glucose) but also gives a feeling of fullness after a meal which helps prevent overeating and weight gain.
  • Potassium. Dried plums are rich in potassium which is known to help maintain a healthy blood pressure level. It also prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and subsequently the formation of plaques in the arteries, keeping the heart pumping regularly and staving off cardiac disease.
  • Vitamins. Prunes are rich in vitamins A and K. The former helps to improve vision and the immune system while the latter strengthens bones and aids in blood clotting.

– Beenish Israr
The writer is a PhD scholar, studying Human Nutrition at University of Reading, UK. She is also a lecturer of Food and Nutrition at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 8, 2013.