Ask The Pharmacist: Amazing health benefits of prunes
Almost everyone knows what prunes are for, they help you get going! Your parents probably kept them in the cabinet and offered them to you when you were a kid.
Prunes are actually just dried plums, and they’re fruits of the tree species Prunus domestica, hence the name. Speaking of names, which would you rather eat? Prunes which help with bowel function, or “dried plums?" Honestly, which sound more palatable?! For purely marketing reasons, the name was changed which offer mass appeal.
What they couldn’t change was how shriveled up and sticky these guys are when you eat them. But don’t let that hinder you because prunes have been scientifically proven to help soften stools and induce a laxative type effect due to their sorbitol content. Prune juice will not work because the actual fruit provides the fiber, juice does not. Do prunes have other medicinal benefits? Yes, surprisingly important ones too!
Prunes have been shown in multiple studies to prevent, and even reverse, bone loss in post-menopausal women.
They’re good for osteoporosis! Prunes work by suppressing the rate of bone turnover. In fact, prominent researchers wrote an article in the British Journal of Nutrition and after studying the fruits, they have come to conclusion that prunes are “the most effective fruit in both preventing and reversing bone loss.”
A placebo-controlled trial out of Pakistan showed that eating just one serving of prunes each day could significantly lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
Those who ate the prunes had a reduction in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure (top and bottom numbers).
Eating prunes might preserve your brain. In an animal model study, feeding rodents an extract of plums helped to maintain their cognitive function.
Not only was their memory recall improved, there was less formation of Beta amyloid plaques, which are the same damaging protein found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Even if everything is ‘moving right along’ in your life, consider adding prunes to your diet if only to help you with blood pressure regulation, bone health and memory. It’s mind-blowing to think such a simple thing could help so much. As a pharmacist, I see no risk to this, and only benefit. But of course, don’t eat too many prunes or you’ll get diarrhea!
If you’re constipation is due to opiate usage (such as oxycodone or hydrocodone) then this would require an OTC medication such as MiraLAX. The prunes are fine but will not be enough! If your constipation is secondary to hypothyroidism, prunes will not be enough. You will need thyroid medication. I have written about this extensively at my website.
Prunes would be fantastic on a salad! Or just eat them whole. Recipes exist everywhere including my website where I also have a longer version of this article posted. If you simply can’t stand prunes, then plums are a great alternative! Plums contain the same anthocyanins that prunes do, and they are even juicier!
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.