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Plums Vs Prunes: Which Are Better?
Every few months, a new superfood becomes trendy. One of the current favorites is dried plums, also known as prunes. But what makes these dehydrated fruits so special? Are they better for you than undried plums? Are they just giant raisins, and people are getting excited over nothing? Read on, and we’ll help you get to the bottom of this dried plum conundrum.
Plums and Prunes Explained
Everyone enjoys a good plum. Believed to have originated in ancient China, this popular fruit is closely related to other similar fleshy, pitted fruits like apricots, nectarines and peaches. A prune is a dried version of a plum. When dried, plums assume a wrinkly, shriveled appearance much like raisins, and have a more intense, concentrated flavor. It takes around four pounds of fresh plums to produce one pound of dried plums.
For many years, plums in their dried form were sold as prunes, but many people apparently found the term unappealing, and they were never as popular as other dried fruits. In recent years, clever marketers began calling them simply “dried plums,” and sales began to increase. But whatever you choose to call them, do they really deserve to be in the lauded “superfood” category? What are the health benefits of eating dried plums, and are they any better for you than fresh ones?
The Health Benefits of Plums, Fresh and Dried
By any objective standard, a fresh plum would be considered a healthy food. A typical plum contains 11 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A, 23 percent of the RDI for vitamin C and 13 percent of the RDI for vitamin K, which many people don’t get enough of. Plums also offer potassium, calcium, thiamine and iron. One of the downsides of plums for some people might be the relatively high sugar and carbohydrate content. But fresh plums also contain B vitamins, which can help metabolize these compounds and break them down.
When it comes to vitamin C, dried plums appear to fall short. Much of this immunity-boosting vitamin is lost during the dehydration process which turns fresh plums into prunes. But something interesting happens when a plum is dried: the vitamin C levels might go down, but the concentrations of all other nutrients go up quite significantly! A one-cup eigh8-ounce) serving of dried plums has incredible 129 percent RDI for vitamin K! This crucial nutrient helps your body to absorb glucose, which stabilizes your blood sugar levels, and assists in blood coagulation. Dried plums also contain higher levels of vitamin A and iron, as well as up to six times the level of antioxidants as a fresh plum!
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Dried Plums Are A Fiber Fiesta
Another major benefit of plums in both their fresh and dried forms is the abundance of fiber they contain. Fiber is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and bowel movements. Fiber, along with other beneficial compounds like sorbitol and isatin, can also reduce one’s risk for developing colon cancer. The high fiber content also improves the health of your gut microbiota, which is damaged in many people due to the overuse of antibiotics.
Here again, we see that plums in the dried form offer a much higher concentration of an essential nutrient than fresh ones. A single fresh plum offers just under one gram of fiber, and a one-cup serving of sliced plums contains approximately 2.3 grams. Not bad, but how do prunes compare? An equal portion of prunes offers a whopping 12 grams of fiber, a slam-dunk win for prunes!
Because of their considerable fiber content, dried plums have long been used a laxative. While they certainly are healthy, you shouldn’t gorge on them – it could be too much of a good thing, and you’ll be making some unwanted trips to the bathroom.
Dried plums make an excellent, mess-free snack to eat while hiking out on the trail, working in the office or just hanging out. Much like their smaller and more well-known cousin the raisin, dried plums are also very versatile. They can be used as an ingredient in baking, mixed in with yogurt or shakes or tossed into a salad.
READ ALSO: Turmeric VS. Curcumin: Which Is Better?
In conclusion, the prune is an underrated superfood which you need to be eating more of. Pick some up today at your local health food store and see why dried plums might just be the new kale.