Benefits of prunes
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rit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2001 May;41(4):251-86. Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food? Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M, Bowen PE, Hussain EA, Damayanti-Wood BI, Farnsworth NR. Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.
Prunes are dried plums, fruits of Prunus domestica L., cultivated and propagated since ancient times. Most dried prunes are produced from cultivar d'Agen, especially in California and France, where the cultivar originated.
After harvest, prune-making plums are dehydrated in hot air at 85 to 90 degrees C for 18 h, then further processed into prune juice, puree, or other prune products.
This extensive literature review summarizes the current knowledge of chemical composition of prunes and their biological effects on human health.
Because of their sweet flavor and well-known mild laxative effect, prunes are considered to be an epitome of functional foods, but the understanding of their mode of action is still unclear. Dried prunes contain approximately 6.1 g of dietary fiber per 100 g, while prune juice is devoid of fiber due to filtration before bottling. The laxative action of both prune and prune juice could be explained by their high sorbitol content (14.7 and 6.1 g/100 g, respectively). Prunes are good source of energy in the form of simple sugars, but do not mediate a rapid rise in blood sugar concentration, possibly because of high fiber, fructose, and sorbitol content. Prunes contain large amounts of phenolic compounds (184 mg/100 g), mainly as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, which may aid in the laxative action and delay glucose absorption. Phenolic compounds in prunes had been found to inhibit human LDL oxidation in vitro, and thus might serve as preventive agents against chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Additionally, high potassium content of prunes (745 mg/100 g) might be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Dried prunes are an important source of boron, which is postulated to play a role in prevention of osteoporosis.
A serving of prunes (100 g) fulfills the daily requirement for boron (2 to 3 mg).
More research is needed to assess the levels of carotenoids and other phytochemicals present in prunes to ensure correct labeling and accuracy of food composition tables in order to support dietary recommendations or health claims.
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Heart failure and coronary heart disease