What Are The Benefits Of Prune Juice For Health?
When many of us think of prune juice, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is the favorite juice of grandparents, right? When I was a child my grandparents forced me to take it as a remedy for constipation. That alone made it the least “cool” drink I could imagine in my young and immature mind.
Now I am older, and I wanted to give my grandparents a favorite drink a second chance, and I think you should do it too! Prune juice benefits much more than just your digestive system. Continue reading to learn about the many reasons to drink prune juice, and also some tasty recipes.
What is prune juice?
Let’s start at the beginning, what is a raisin, and what is prune juice? A prune is a dried plum, of any variety. The most common class used for prune juice is the European variety, or “prunus domestica”.
All the plums, and therefore the prunes have a hard cover surrounding their seeds. Manufacturers usually remove them to make them easier to eat. Its flavor is intensely sweet and have a sticky and rubbery texture.
The idea of drying plums is thought to have originated thousands of years ago in the Middle East. This practice was carried through Europe and finally the whole world. Currently, California claims the first place in prune production.
Many plum manufacturers have started selling their products as “prunes” instead of “prunes” to avoid the stigmas associated with the second term. Some people even associate the wrinkles of a prune with the wrinkles of old age. What unfortunate fruit.
To make prune juice, prunes are pulverized and dissolved in hot water. Then the bones are removed, and the skin is removed.
The dispute over prune juice
Prunes contain a small amount of a substance known as “Acrylamide.” Acrylamide is a known neurotoxin, and probably carcinogenic, in other words, it is thought to cause cancer. It also has negative effects on fertility. This compound is not frequently found in natural foods, however, it is created when the prunes are cooked at temperatures above 100ºC.
Prunes generally do not dry at such high temperatures, however, if high amounts of acrylamide have been found in prunes. Additionally, Acrylamide may also be present in prune juice.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have stated that the amount of acrylamide needed to observe neurotoxic and fertility effects in humans was more than 500 times the usual intake. However, they could not confirm if it was safe from a carcinogenic point of view.
Personally, I understand that we found hundreds of different carcinogenic sources every day. It is the nature of modern life. From junk foods to chemicals in skin care products, and pollution in the environment. It is impossible to eliminate them completely.
So, I am satisfied with consuming prunes and prune juice in moderation, in order to receive all the health benefits. It is up to you to decide what things you want to put in your body.
Top 7 benefits of prune juice for health
Now that we know the basics on the subject of prunes and prune juice, let’s look a little deeper at the benefits of prune juice for health.
We are all familiar with the laxative qualities of prune juice. First of all, prunes have a high fiber content. More than half of these so-called “soluble fibers” include pectin, hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin. Soluble fiber increases the size of the stool, generating a greater number of stools. In fact, drying prunes increases the fiber content.
Fiber is not the only thing that works, if so, prunes would not be better than other fruits and vegetables. Prunes also contain a type of sugar called “sorbitol” which works as a laxative on its own. Sorbitol is not absorbed by your body at all. It stays in your colon and attracts water to the stool. This leads to a softer consistency and more frequent bowel movements.
Good source of iron and increases iron absorption
The juice of prunes contains a significant amount of iron. Iron is an essential mineral for the development of red blood cells and a subsequent transport of oxygen around your body.
The juice of prunes is an especially good option to prevent anemia in vegetarians and vegans. Anemia is just another word for iron deficiency. All the iron in the plants originates in what we call “non-hem type iron”. Non-heme type iron needs vitamin C to be absorbed by your body. And guess what? The juice of prunes also contains a large amount of vitamin C.
Plums and prunes increase your total ability to absorb iron, even from other foods. Additionally, vitamin C helps strengthen your immune system, and can reduce the duration of a flu or cold.
Feed good bacteria
The insoluble fiber of prunes acts as food for “friendly” bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are also known as “intestinal flora” and are vital for intestinal health.
The “good” bacteria ferment the insoluble fiber to produce a substance known as “butyric acid” which is a fuel for your intestinal cells. They also produce fuel for your liver and muscles.
Another benefit of keeping your intestinal flora healthy and abundant is that good bacteria remove bacteria that cause disease. This means that there are literally so many good bacteria in your intestines that there is no room for bad ones to enter. In a practical sense, this means that you will be less prone to intestinal diseases caused by bad bacteria, such as poisoning.
Most of the insoluble fiber has been removed from the commercially available prune juices, and the same applies to the homemade prune juice.
The best way to feed your intestinal flora is by making your own prune juice, simply dissolving the prunes in hot water and then diluting with more water and refrigerating, or adding to the juice the pulp left by the juicer. You can also eat the whole prunes if you wish.
Helps fight “bad” cholesterol and heart disease
Prunes and prune juice are high in antioxidant compounds. Six times more than its fresh counterparts, the non-raisins. These antioxidants protect against heart disease by stopping the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol.
Another substance present in prunes is called “propanoic acid,” which inhibits HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved in the creation of cholesterol in the liver. Lower cholesterol production means lower levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Finally, the soluble fiber of prunes increases the binding of cholesterol to bile acids. Once cholesterol binds to bile acids, it is removed from your body through the stool.
Studies have shown this effect in humans and rats. Science speaks for itself. If you have high cholesterol, or want to prevent this condition from developing in the future, a daily glass of prunes can make you not need the doctor.
Balance of blood sugar
Unlike many other sweet snacks, consuming prunes does not cause a drastic rise in blood sugar. This makes prune juice an acceptable option for diabetics, if consumed in moderation. It is thought that this is due to the high content of fiber, fructose and sorbitol.
Soluble fiber in prunes also slows the absorption of sugar from other foods. This is done by slowing down the rate at which food leaves the stomach after a meal. Soluble fiber also increases insulin sensitivity. There is a possibility that this may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.
You can reduce your risk of cancer
You may be thinking, have not you just said that prunes contain a compound that causes cancer? Yes, we discuss acrylamide above but there are also other compounds that can prevent cancer. Let’s see the evidence.
One study took an extract of prune juice and tested it on human colon cancer cells. It was found to reduce the growth of the cells, and cause them to die. The exact mechanism is not yet understood, and the studies done on cells do not always have the same results in the whole human body, so you do not get completely excited.
Another study studied a substance called “protocatechuic acid” (Protocatechuic acid) in prunes and other fruits. It is thought that protocatechuic acid can prevent neoplasia in different tissues. It is also believed to work through antioxidant activity, including the scavenging of free radicals. Again, more research is needed in this area to reach a solid conclusion.
Can prevent osteoporosis
The juice of prunes is a great option for strong bones and the prevention of osteoporosis. It contains a high concentration of two minerals: selenium and boron, both known for preserving bone mineral density.
Recipes to make prune juice
Prune juice recipe # 1
Shake of prunes and berries
This shake will satisfy your taste for the sweet and at the same time it will give an improvement to your digestive system, since this shake is full of fiber. Make sure you use a natural probiotic yogurt for maximum benefits, you could even try making one yourself.
1 peeled banana
1 cup of strawberries
½ cup of prune juice
¼ cup of plain yogurt
Blend all the items in the list above. For hot days, you can add ice cubes to the mix, or freeze the banana and strawberries in pieces in advance.
Prune juice recipe # 2
Remedy for constipation of lemon and prunes
This recipe is especially great as a completely natural remedy for constipation in children. Personally, I prefer to solve the minor food problems of my children with natural products instead of resorting instantly to pharmaceutical medicines. I realized that this juice works most of the time, you should have relief in a span of 24 hours. If not, try it two or three times a day.
Handful of prunes
1 cup of water
Soak the prunes in ½ cup of boiling water and blend to create a puree. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and add to the mixture. Dilute it with 1 cup of water, to achieve the consistency you prefer. Stir well before serving and consume fresh.
Prune juice recipe # 3
Fruit smoothie to increase fiber
You can combine prune juice with almost any fruit in a smoothie, and it will taste good. It is naturally very sweet, so that it removes the need to add honey or other sweeteners. At least for me, I do not like candy very much.
1 cup of blueberries
½ cup of prune juice
1 peeled apple
1 peeled banana
Juice of squeezed lemon
Blend all the elements from the list above.
How much juice of prunes should I consume?
A 9-ounce glass of prune juice (about 1 cup) contains about 182 calories. This serving also contains 1.56g of protein, and virtually no fat; 45 g of carbohydrates. Of these carbohydrates, 2.6g are fiber and 42g are natural sugars.
Drinking more than 1 glass a day will probably increase your calorie intake a lot. In any case, the variety gives flavor to life and is also the key to a balanced and healthy diet, so you should not limit yourself to eating only prune juice.
Final thoughts on the health benefits of prune juice
I really think it’s worth giving the prune juice a second chance. It has really been the victim of bad marketing strategies in recent decades and does not deserve the bad reputation it has. It tastes delicious and you have learned that prune juice benefits many aspects of health, including:
- Relief of constipation
- Fountain of iron
- Improves intestinal flora
- Lower cholesterol
- Balances blood sugar
- Reduces the risk of cancer
- Improves bone strength