Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Cooking with Fey! Friday is again upon us and we are going to explore what happens to a plum when it is dehydrated and becomes a PRUNE.
Prunes are a dried out plum, which are members of the Prunus genus and are related to other delicious foods like peaches, nectarines and oddly enough, almonds. Wrinkly prunes have health benefits to add to your diet such as: reducing free radicals in the body, keeping our red blood cells healthy and protecting our heart. These elements are wonderful for those of us with Atrial Fibrillation, as we can use all the help we can get to help our hearts function better and safer.
Prunes are also an excellent source of:
- Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
Now, you may be thinking, “what’s with all this fancy fiber?” But worry not, I am about to explain what on earth these different types of fiber are, and why you should care.
Soluble Fiber is like the police force of the body. This type of fiber attaches itself to cholesterol particles in the body and helps them to be removed when we visit the restroom. This is very important because it helps to reduce the body’s overall cholesterol levels, which can be a contributing factor to heart disease.
Insoluble fiber can be thought of like a massive sponge in the large intestines. This type of fiber draws in water and helps regulate the movement of food through our intestines. So if you are having problems going to the restroom, then the insoluble fiber in prunes can help.
Prunes also contain minerals like iron. Iron is a vital part of hemoglobin, which is the stuff found in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. This means that if your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells, your body isn’t getting enough oxygen. A lack of oxygen in the body can make you feel fatigued, like your brain is in a “fog” or decrease your immune system.
Another mineral in prunes that you may not have heard of is boron. Boron helps activate fibroblasts of the skin after an injury to speed up the healing process. This mineral also spurs bone and tissue repair throughout the body, and dentists love boron because it helps keep our teeth and gum tissue healthy. Boron is also useful for reducing inflammation, which is great if you aren’t an avid flosser in between dental visits.
Vitamin A is necessary for human growth and development, cell recognition, sight, proper immune system function, sexual reproduction, as well as helping the heart, lungs, and kidneys to function normally. While Vitamin A sounds like a miracle, be careful how much you take. If you ingest too much it can be harmful to the body. Most doctors recommend that adult men consume 900 mcg per day, and women take 700 mcg per day to stay within healthy levels.
Vitamin K is important to the body because it is needed for the body to product a protein called prothrombin, which allows the body to support bone metabolism and form helpful blood clots (like when you get a papercut and the blood clots to stop the bleeding, not the scary kind of blood clot). Vitamin K creates healthy, strong bones by increasing their density. Denser bones are less likely to break or sustain injury.
Meanwhile, potassium helps the body maintain a normal blood pressure and nerve function. This means that prunes can help the nervous system regulate muscle movements more effectively.
As you may know, prunes contain a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes.
These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin.
Polyphenol antioxidants found in prunes have a fantastic impact on bone maintenance reduce the chances of developing heart diseases or diabetes. The reason for this is because polyphenols are powerful anti-inflammatories that can help those who suffer from joint inflammation or lung problems. Prunes contain over twice the polyphenol content of peaches or nectarines, so they are a great option for individuals struggling with inflammation problems.
Prunes have been found to contain adiponectin, a hormone responsible for blood pressure regulation. Researchers Parvin Mirmiran, Zahra Bahadoran and Fereidoun Azizi conducted a study on functional foods in the diet and their impact on managing type two (2) diabetes. The researchers uncovered that prunes, and other such foods, can have a positive impact for diabetics by the food’s antioxidant and bioactive compounds helping the body to manage these complicated conditions.
In addition to helping regulate blood pressure, prunes also help us protect our heart. Heart health is a serious matter, and as someone with a heart condition I can attest to how awful it is to have problems with one of our most vital organs. Prunes and their juice has been proven to lower blood pressure, overall total cholesterol levels and the bad LDL cholesterol that we all need to avoid. The fiber, potassium and antioxidants found in prunes are being shown to have positive impacts on the risk of developing heart disease later in life.