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Prunes pack quite a punch

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PRUNE POWER They make a great snack
PRUNE POWER They make a great snack

Prunes are rich in Vitamin A, fibre, anti-oxidants and minerals

Prunes make a tasty snack. They are brown, chewy and naturally sweet. No cholesterol, no fat and no sodium. Just plenty of iron. They are grown in California, Chile, France, Argentina, Australia, Italy and South Africa. The sun-ripened plums are picked, dried at the peak of their freshness and converted into shrivelled delights.

“Prunes are rich in Vitamin A, fibre, anti-oxidants and minerals. These strengthen the body’s defence mechanism, maintain 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.

Creating awareness

This year, the IPA is creating awareness about 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 seminars and plans are on to promote the product through retail outlets. The rich iron content does 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 prevents loss of bone mass.

Health benefits

Prunes contain phytochemicals, believed to act as anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic agents. 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 packed easily into school lunch boxes as a convenient and nutritional snack.

PRUNE PLUSES

Chopped prunes can be added to pulavs and biriyanis

Prunes find use in desserts such as kheer, custard and kulfi

Adding prunes to cake batter makes it soft and moist

Chopped and boiled prunes can be used as a topping for breakfast porridge, corn flakes, or ice creams

Mixing diced prunes with dry fruits and nuts makes for a great snack while travelling

For more details, visit www.ipaprunes.orgK. JESHI

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