Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover

Say the word "Prune" and you'll get lots of reactions sometimes even giggles. For many this is a food associated with... umm, let's just say... digestive problems. And for many others it's associated with shuffleboard and Hoveround groupies. But you know, there's a reason why wisdom is associated with age, because the older folk (who are normally associated with eating prunes) have a well kept secret—prunes are a dynamo of health benefits.

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.


Evolving Through Running said...

Never been a big fan of prunes, but hard to argue with that list of benefits.

Gotta love that the politically-correct term is now dried plums. They'll always be prunes to me, and Pluto will always be a planet in my universe.

RunnerDude said...

LOL!! Thanks man. Yep, I got a chuckle too when I read that the name had been officially change to dried plums. I wonder if the drink is now dried plum juice. LOL!

Christina said...

I actually like prunes since I was a little kid. They are sweet!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, but I'm still not eating them! Blech!!! (I don't like raisons either.) Some day, I hope that you will tell me that Twizzlers magically make you capable of running marathons!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Christina! I never really tried them as a kid. A few years ago, my wife bought a mixture of dried fruit and I was telling her how much I liked one of the fruits in the mix. She laughed and said my favorites were the prunes. LOL! I like dried apricots too.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Lesley! That's okay, we all have different likes and dislikes. I go "Belch" at Twizzlers. LOL! Like you, my daughter loves them. Since I was a kid, I've never like the sugary kind of candy. I'm more of a dark chocolate kind of guy. LOL!

Regina said...

You know, I recently got some in a swag bag from a swim race. I was reluctant to eat them, believing that I would hate them based on the "lore of the prune", but I gave it a shot. They were delicious!! I am a convert!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Regina! That's awesome! I was the same way, but love them now.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the reason the name changed up there is because someone is translating directly from Spanish? :) Down here (mexico) they are called dried plums (translated from Spanish - ciruela pasa) and raisins are "dried grapes" (uva pasa).

RunnerDude said...

LOL! Could be, but more than likely it's trying to get away from the previous connotations with "Prunes."