It is widely known that eating prunes helps digestion, but prunes have a lot of other health benefits that should not be overlooked. All prunes are plums, which indicates that plums are also a great source of nutrition. But which is better for you?
History of Plums
Plums are an ancient fruit that are closely related to peaches and apricots. They are believed to have originated in China and moved over to the Mediterranean regions by Alexander the Great.
Plums are a drupe, meaning that they are a fleshy fruit with a thin layer of skin and a central pit that contains the seed. As plums are dehydrated and become a dried fruit, they are referred to as prunes.
Plums have a high sugar content, which allows them to dry without being fermented. So once they are dried, do the health benefits increase or decrease?
Prunes retain both the soluble and insoluble fiber from plums and are also full of antioxidants that help prevent cell damage from oxidation and free radicals.
Fresh plums are a rich source of vitamins that the body needs to properly function. A cup of sliced plums delivers 26% of the recommended daily intake of vitamins C, 13% percent of the RDI for vitamin K, and 11% of the RDI for vitamin A. Vitamin C is essential for the body to form, grow, repair, and maintain bodily tissues such as the skin, bones, blood vessels, and teeth. Plums also contain significant amounts of thiamine and riboflavin as well as several other nutrients like calcium, potassium, and iron.
Although the majority of vitamin C in plums is lost during the drying process, prunes actually contain significantly higher concentrations other nutrients that are found in plums. One cup of pitted prunes contains 129% of the RDI of vitamin K, 36% of the RDI of potassium, 27% of the RDI of vitamin A, and 9% of the RDI of iron.
Vitamin K is an important nutrient for protein function in the body that help blood coagulation, and vitamin A is beneficial for eye health. Prunes also contain calcium, B vitamins, and magnesium.
One cup of plums has 2.3 grams of fiber, which is not a very significant amount. Prunes, however, are an excellent source of fiber, containing 12.4 grams per cup. Most of the fiber in prunes is soluble, which helps lower the body’s level of fatty acids and unhealthy cholesterol. Soluble fiber can also help maintain blood glucose levels because it slows down the body’s absorption of sugars. Plums and prunes also have insoluble fiber, which draws water into the bowels, increasing the size and softness of stools. Because of this, prunes are commonly used for the treatment and prevention of constipation.
Plums are among the top 10 fruits with the most antioxidants. They are also rich in betacarotene, anthocyanins, chlorogenic acid, and other important phytonutrients. The vitamin C content of plums also boosts their antioxidant capacity.
Due to the fact that prunes are a concentrated source of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are found in plums, they actually have six times the amount of antioxidants than plums. Prunes are significantly higher in antioxidants than any other form of produce, either dried or fresh.
In conclusion, both plums and prunes are great sources of glucose and fructose, which provide the body with readily available energy. One cup of sliced plum contains 76 calories and almost 19 grams of carbs, of which most are sugars. However, one cup of pitted prunes has 418 calories and 111 grams of carbs, of which about half are sugars.
It is important to limit your intake of prunes due to the high sugar content. A single serving of prunes should not exceed 1/4 cup.
To get the most out of plums for the benefits of their vitamin C content, be sure to eat them raw. To add fiber to your diet, add some chopped prunes to your yogurt or whole-grain dishes. This will also increase your intake of nutrients and antioxidants.
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