23 February 2012

Prunes ( dried plum )

Sweet with a deep taste and a sticky chewy texture, prunes are not only fun to eat but they are also highly nutritious. As with other dried fruits, they are available year round. Prunes are actually the dried version of European plums and recently had its name officially changed to dried plum.
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Health Benefits Of Prunes

1. Prunes are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene (a natural antioxidant). These two vitamins play a key role in maintaining healthy eye-sight and are also used to fight acne, resulting in a smooth radiant skin.
2.The dietary fiber present in the fruit aids weight loss, as it produces a sense of fullness in the stomach.
3. The insoluble dietary fiber in prunes contributes to the growth of certain useful bacteria in the intestine. Hence, it is regarded as a natural probiotic.
4. The soluble dietary fiber of the fruit, on the other hand, promotes the maintenance of a healthy colon and is useful in certain conditions, like hemorrhoids, constipation, diverticular disorders and so on.
5. A high source of iron, prunes aid in the process of respiration at the cellular level, by synthesizing the oxygen carrier, hemoglobin.
6. The unique combination of low sodium levels and high potassium levels present in the fruit is essential to maintain normal blood pressure level and even lowers water retention in the body. Besides this, potassium also helps in the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
7. Another mineral that prunes are rich in is magnesium. The key functions of this mineral are promoting relaxation (muscles, nerves and blood vessels), relieving muscle soreness, alleviating symptoms of asthma and even migraine headaches.
8. It is estimated that a single cup of prunes (174 g) contains around 0.5 mg of copper. Regular and proper intake of the fruit lowers the occurrence of inflammatory conditions like RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). Also, the copper helps to uphold the elasticity of blood vessels, ligaments and joints.
9. Another trace mineral present in prunes is manganese. This is an important co-factor in promoting a number of enzymatic actions in the body.
10. Certain phenolic compounds are present in the fruit, like phytonutrients, chlorogenic acid and neochlorogenic acid. These compounds act as antioxidants that remove harmful free radicals from the body. 

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Serve stewed prunes with rosemary-scented braised lamb and enjoy this Middle Eastern inspired meal.
Serve stewed or soaked prunes on top of pancakes and waffles.
Combine diced dried prunes with other dried fruits and nuts to make homemade trail mix.
Prunes make a delicious addition to poultry stuffing.

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