Backing up a tad, here's a little Prune:101 for you. The process of making prunes has been around for thousands of years. Prunes are acutally made from drying a variety of European plum that originated near the Caspian Sea. This drying method was adopted by many cultures in that region of the world, but it was the California Gold Rush during the 1800's that finally brought the technique to the US. Louis Pellier from France, was one of many caught up in the gold rush that had no luck with mining gold. So, what 's the next best thing? Prunes not coming to mind? Well, Pellier seemed to think so. He planted plum tree cuttings he had brought with him from France. Over 35 years Pellier planted 90,000 acres of plum orchards. The type of tree he planted produced the perfect type of plum for drying and tah dah.....a Prune empire emerged! Today, California is one of the major sources of dried plums (as they are officially called today).
Okay, so now your all education on the US history of prunes, but how are they healthy for you? Hmmm....where to begin. Well prunes are a good source of Vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, and fiber. A quarter cup provides about 12% of your daily value of fiber. A high-fiber diet helps reduce your chances of colorectal cancer. It can also help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, among others. Vitamin A is important to eye health, tissue growth, and your immune system. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radicals. It also helps in the process of building and maintaining strong tissues (important to quick recovery after a run) and it's key in general body metabolism. And then there's potassium. Potassium is very important to runners. Potassium is a key electrolyte important in hydration. Potassium plays a part in water balance, metabolic reactions, muscle action, insulin release, and blood pressure.
Okay, so now your mind might be a-whirling from all the previous info. The key thing to remember about prunes is that they can ...
- protect your body from free radicals (prunes have more antioxidants than any other fruit!)
- lower blood pressure
- reduce your chance of stroke
- promote bone health
- decrease your chance of colorectal cancer
- help keep you more regular
- normalize blood-sugar levels
- help with weight loss
- help prevent adult-onset diabetes
- help lower your cholesterol
- help rebuild and maintain tissue
So, try eating a handful of dried plums each day and you'll be happy with the results. Eat them by themselves, add them in a mix of other dried fruits and nuts, or cut them up and use them to top your cold or hot cereal.