By Alyssa Adler
Aside from prunes helping soften the stool, did you know that prunes contain nutrients that preserve bone health? Especially for cancer patients, it is important to maintain bone density and prevent bone loss. Women with breast cancer have higher risks of osteoporosis due to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments that cause bone loss. Luckily, a few studies have shown that there is a positive effect between consuming prunes and improving bone health, especially in women at risk. Relevant to cancer patients, a study done by Scientific Reports found that prunes help prevent bone loss in individuals exposed to radiation.
Dried plums contain many nutrients that are helpful for maintaining bone health and reducing osteoporosis. Prunes contain large amounts of phenolic compounds compared to other fruits (NIH). Phenolic compounds are a major contributor in cancer prevention and treatment methods. Additionally, one can get 30% of their daily Vitamin K needs from only 5 prunes! Vitamin K is important in maintaining calcium balance, which helps with bone mineralization. Prunes are also packed with magnesium, zinc, copper and potassium, which are all important for bone preservation. Most commonly, prunes are used for their fiber, which help soften the stool, increase satiety and manage weight.
Fun fact: the actual drying process of the plums doubles their antioxidant activity, which reduces bone cell destruction!
Prunes can be found at the grocery store all year round. California supplies 42 percent of the world’s prunes, including most of the prunes sold in the United States. Dried plums are available whole or pitted and are usually dark purple in color. In general, prunes are affordable, portable and have a long shelf life so they are great to have in the pantry!
Interestingly, prune puree can serve as a substitute for half of the oil or butter in baking! This substitution can help reduce added fats and sugars without compromising texture and flavor.
Dried plums make a great snack, especially when at high risk for bone loss. Prunes can also be added to stews, sauces and baked goods for additional moisture, richness and flavor. Check out Cook for Your Life’s Stewed Prunes for a sweet, light dessert. Don’t be hesitant to pop a couple of prunes as a healthy snack or put some into tonight’s dinner for some additional nutrients! Try Cook for Your Life’s Roast Chicken with Olives, Shallots & Prunes for a sweet and savory meal!
Alyssa Adler is a Boston University Graduate from Long Island, New York. She was CFYL’s 2016 summer web intern after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. She has since gone on to earn her Masters degree, and is now a Clinical Nutritionist at Mt. Sinai’s St. Luke’s hospital here in New York City. Alyssa has a food blog called Red Delicious and Nutritious which focuses on healthy eating and living and how decadent foods can be made wholesome and delicious. A woman after our own heart!