A Key Player in the Quest for Longevity
Not just for “regularity” anymore, prunes should now be considered a major weapon in our anti-aging routines.
Prunes have gotten a bad rap over the years. Even the California Prune Board decided the dried fruit needed a facelift! So in 1999 they got a name change approved by the FDA that upgraded the fruit from “prune” to “dried plum”. (The prune is actually the dried version of a European plum.) And while we have always understood prunes to be an excellent source of fiber (hence the “irregular” jokes), new reports are opening our eyes to the anti-aging benefits of this fruit.
The USDA has a way of rating foods based on their antioxidant properties. This scale is referred to as ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity). The ORAC scale rates prunes at the top of the list! Now, you can’t read an article even remotely related to nutrition these days without running across the word “antioxidant”. But to briefly recap, an antioxidant protects your healthy cells from the “cells gone wild”, or, free radicals. Free radicals have many origins, but they are responsible for much of the breakdown and disease in our systems, speeding up the aging process. In come the antioxidants, buffering us from free radical damage, and in some cases reversing it.
The fact that prunes rank as number one on the ORAC scale is not something to be lightly overlooked. Prunes are loaded with Vitamin A (beta-carotene) which stimulates the production of collagen in our bodies. Collagen is a protein that connects our body tissues together, and the lack of it shows in our skin in the form of sags and wrinkles.
Prunes are also very high in copper, another anti-aging benefit. Copper is a mineral in our system that plays a number of important roles. It maintains the health of our tissue and bones, it helps get rid of those pesky free radicals and it also aids in the production of collagen and elastin, the two substances that give us that youthful skin.
The high fiber content of prunes assists in the overall functioning of our bodies, from giving us that “full” feeling so we don’t overeat, to normalizing our insulin levels by slowing the rate at which our food is absorbed. Many health gurus recommend making a puree from prunes, and adding it to other foods when cooking, such as ground meat when making a burger.
Nothing helps in the anti-aging war like a healthy heart, and the high levels of potassium in prunes work at keeping our vital organ in stellar shape. Potassium helps us maintain lower blood pressure, and some studies have shown that it helps prevent clogging of the arteries.
In our quest for anti-aging foods with benefits from more supple skin to improved heart health, we can find it all in prunes… or dried plums… whichever we choose to call them.