The magic of prunes

February 28, 2010

What makes your true friends stand apart from the rest? They’re fun to be with, they’re there when you need them and they don’t make fun of you when you tell them embarrassing secrets about yourself. Right?

Few things are more embarrassing than stomach ailments and so we often pretend that gastric distress, acidity and other such irregularities in the digestive system don’t exist or that they will fix themselves in due time. But, instead of hiding the disease, why not deal with it and end the suffering?

One natural way to battle reluctant bowels is through the use and consumption of prunes. Prunes are a type of dried plum with a sweet taste and a deep personality. With a peculiar, sticky, chewy texture, prunes are not just fun to eat but also highly useful.

Prunes are available in the market as it is or pitted. You can also knock back some prune juice which is made by softening prunes through steaming and then putting them through a pulper to create a watery puree. The form you choose depends on your personal preferences. Yet it has been proved that heating the juice can show you faster results. The versatility of the fruit gives it an edge as it can be incorporated into a variety of recipes including desserts, salads, cereal, yogurt, and even smoothies. Prunes can even be blended and added to baked goods or used as a garnish for other dishes.

Prunes have long been used as a common home remedy for constipation. While the exact reasons for its use in this regards are remain unclear, research has found that the fruit as well as the juice, contain a natural laxative called dihydrophenylisatin. Dietary fibres contained in prunes, and a stool loosening sugar called sorbitol, have a stimulating effect on one’s bowel movement.

Prunes are full of soluble fibers that are also useful in normalizing blood sugar levels, thus reducing the risk of diabetes. Fiber helps those trying to lose weight by producing a feeling of satiation and discouraging overeating. Soluble fiber also affects the level of bile in the liver, forcing the body use up more of the stored cholesterol and ultimately lowering cholesterol levels.

The insoluble fiber in prune juice is also beneficial to the body, particularly with respect to liver and intestinal function. The stomach creates fatty acids in reaction to the indigestible fiber. These act as a natural laxative, cleaning the colon and helping to maintain healthy regularity.

Prunes are good for you in more ways than one. They are also said to have a high antioxidant content which is thought to have positive effects on acidity in the body.

The health benefits of prunes may also extend to the heart. The antioxidants help to prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the blood stream that could lead to plaque formation in the arteries. They are an unusually good source of vitamin A, containing a quarter of the daily requirement.

Prunes are packed to the brim with health benefits. They help to slow the process of aging of the brain and body, help in case of anemia, are excellent for increasing one’s vitality, help in normalizing blood circulation, and are a good remedy for a sore throat.  Thus, prunes should not just be used as a medicine for constipation. Drinking a glass of prune juice a day can strengthen your body’s defenses against disease and help you to stay as fit as a fiddle.

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