Prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum. In general, fresh prunes are freestone cultivars (the pit
is easy to remove), whereas most other plums grown for fresh consumption are clingstone.Uses
Prunes are used in cooking both sweet and savory dishes. Stewed prunes, a compote, are a dessert. Prunes are a frequent ingredient in North African tagines. Perhaps the best-known gastronomic prunes are those of Agen. Prunes are used frequently in Tzimmes, a traditional Jewish dish in which the principal ingredient is diced
or sliced carrots
; in the Nordic prune kisel, eaten with rice
pudding in the Christmas dinner; and in the traditional Norwegian dessert fruit soup.
Prunes have also been included in other holiday dishes, such as stuffing, cake, and to make sugar plums
. Prune filled Danish pastries are popular primarily in New York and other parts of the U.S. East Coast. Prune ice cream is popular in the Dominican Republic. Prunes are also used to make juice
. In the Cotswolds, prunes were fermented to form a cider-like drink called jerkum. Due to the high sugar content of prunes, it was considered particularly potent as compared to contemporary ciders and beers.Health Benefits of Prunes:
1. Prunes protect against diseases like cancer:
Plums and prunes not only protect the brain from free radical damage but can also help to prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Prunes and plums contain high levels of phytonutrients called phenols. They are particularly high in two unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. Numerous studies show that these phytonutrients help to prevent damage to cells particularly when it comes to the oxidation of fat molecules in the body. Since all of our cell membranes, as well as our brain cells, are largely made up of fat, these are important phytonutrients to have in the diet. These compounds have also been found to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol
in the body making them an important factor in the prevention of chronic diseases.
2. They help prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity:
Prunes and plums are high in soluble fibre
which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. Soluble fibre slows the rate at which food leaves the stomach and, as a result, delays the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. Soluble fibre also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The soluble fibre in prunes helps to make you feel satisfied after a meal which can prevent overeating and subsequent weight gain.
3. Prunes and plums help to lower cholesterol:
The soluble fibre we just spoke of also helps to lower cholesterol by soaking up excess bile in the intestine and then excreting it. Bile is made from cholesterol in the liver in order to digest fat
. When the body excretes bile along with the fibre from prunes and plums, the liver must use cholesterol in the body to make more bile thereby lowering the amount in circulation in the body. Soluble fibre may also inhibit the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the liver in the first place.
4. Get improved bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis:
Recent studies show that prunes and plums are the most effective fruit in preventing and reversing bone loss due to rich sources of phenoic and flavonoid compounds.
5. They’re a good source of vitamin C:
The ability of prunes and plums to help the body in the absorption of iron may be due to their high levels of vitamin C
. The high amounts of vitamin C also help build immunity and help the body form collagen, which supports strong, healthy tissue.
Also see Plum, Blood Plum, Plum Sauce, Natal Plum.