With surveys suggesting most of us don’t eat enough fibre, Jeananne Craig sings the praises of the humble prune.
Wolfing down fashionable foods like avocados, almonds and acai berries – and reaping their nutritional benefits in the process – may be all the rage, but the humble prune shouldn’t be forgotten.
Granted, a serving of these fragrant fruits might seem a lot less glamorous than, say, a fresh green smoothie or a handful of chia seeds, but these wrinkly wonders have all sorts of health advantages – not least when it comes to your digestive system.
Research has revealed that around eight in 10 of us don’t get enough fibre in our diet, while recent studies have found that the average fibre intake of UK adults is 18.4g per day – that’s 26% less than the recommended dietary fibre intake of 25g per day.
However, just three prunes (which are simply plums with the water removed) will amount to one of your five-a-day, ensuring you get that bit closer to your daily target – and help keep everything ticking over nicely in the bathroom department.
They’re also a good source of potassium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure, and vitamin B6 and copper, which support the immune and nervous systems, and vitamin K and manganese for bone maintenance.
How to eat more:
According to celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager, there are a number of ways to incorporate this super-healthy foodstuff into our busy lives.
“To me, prunes are a ‘superfood’. They’re healthy, great for kids, they’ll fill you up, they’re substantial,” she says. “I like a packet in my car instead of a bag of sweets, because I do a lot of driving and they’re naturally sweet.”
The cook and author has teamed up with California Prunes to come up with some tasty prune-based dishes, including prune and salted caramel cream, and prune and duck tartare tartlets.
“Prunes are so versatile and you can do so much with them. You can make them sophisticated, homely, any way at all,” said Shrager. “You can sweeten something with prunes instead of sugar, it’s a much healthier product to use. I’ve always been a fan.”
Don’t worry about the sugar:
Dietician Jennette Higgs agrees that, instead of reaching for a fizzy drink or a bar of chocolate when we fancy a sweet fix, it’s a good idea to stock up on prunes instead.
“The sugar provided in whole fruits is not a problem, as this is in a form that is much more filling and more slowly digested in the body,” she said, adding: “People should not be put off eating whole fruits, either fresh or dried, in their quest to reduce sugar intake.”