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A healthy high-energy snack, prunes provide antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, iron, and vitamin A that may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. For example, prunes are notorious for preventing and relieving constipation. The prune provides bulk to stool and decreases transit time. The insoluble fiber in prunes provides food for "good" bacteria in the large intestine. When the "good" bacteria use this insoluble fiber, they produce butyric acid, which is a short-chain fatty acid that is the primary fuel for intestinal cells to maintain a healthy colon. These bacteria also form other short-chain fatty acids, such as acetic and propionic acid that are used as cellular fuel in the liver and muscles.
Additionally, prunes contain a large amount of phenolic compounds (184 mg per 100 g). These compounds, mainly neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, act as antioxidants to "bad" LDL cholesterol and thereby may act to protect the heart against disease. An investigation of the blood of 58 postmenopausal (approximately three to five years postmenopause) women who ate approximately 12 prunes per day for three months revealed the presence of enzymes and growth factors that indicated increased bone formation in their bodies. These markers were not seen in women who did not eat prunes. Furthermore, none of the women in the study suffered any negative gastrointestinal side effects. Last, a single 100 g serving of prunes fulfills the RDA requirement for boron (2 to 3 mg). Boron is a trace mineral essential for bone metabolism and is a necessary factor in preventing osteoporosis.
Gram-for-gram, prunes were ranked the third highest in antioxidant activity compared with 100 other fruits and vegetables -- beating out blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. A study from Oklahoma State University suggests that prunes may protect against postmenopausal bone loss, too.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.