Prunes pack quite a punch with their high nutritional value
It is a tasty snack. It is brown, chewy and is naturally sweet. No cholesterol, no fat and no sodium. Just plenty of iron. And, it goes by the name of prunes. They are grown in California, Chile, France, Argentina, Australia, Italy and South Africa, and the sun-ripened plums are picked, dried at the peak of their freshness and converted into shrivelled delights. “It is rich in Vitamin A and fibre and high in anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. These strengthen the body’s defence mechanism, maintain good digestive health and act as a laxative too,” says Rachna Sharma of The SCS Group, New Delhi, which represents the International Prune Association in India.
This year, the IPA is creating awareness on the nutritional and health benefits of prunes in six cities of South India — Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Puducherry and Kochi.
This is being done through a series of nutritional seminars and plans are on to promote the product through retail outlets. The rich iron content seems to be doing a lot of good to pregnant women. It also prevents the detrimental effects of menopause on bone density. Studies have shown that in post menopausal women who consumed a reasonable helping of prunes (about 12 a day), there were signs of increase in bone density. Scientists at the University of Oklahoma have indicated that prunes can help prevent skeletal deterioration that can accompany the onset of osteoporosis in men. The Potassium and Boron content in prunes boosts bone metabolism and prevent loss of bone mass.
Prunes contain phytochemicals, believed to act as an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic agent.
Besides phytochemicals, prunes also contain flavonoids, carotenoids, sugars, polysaccharides, sugar alcohols, pectin, aromatic acids, inorganic compounds and sorbic acid. Phytochemicals in prunes are known to be of benefit in coronary heart diseases too.
Besides the health benefits, prunes can be fun food too. They are easy to store and need no refrigeration. They are ready-to-eat and so, can be tucked easily into school lunch boxes as a convenient and nutritional snack.K. JESHI