Seeking more plant-based options for healthy ageing? This approach is right on track with many dietary guidelines advocating for greater fruit and vegetable consumption. One easy way to expand your plant-based options is by adding in prunes. They not only provide plenty of health benefits but can also be used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.
Registered dietitian and nutritionist, Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, based in the US, provides tips for adding prunes to meals, while explaining how these tasty dried fruits support health and wellness - at all life stages.
" Prunes deliver fibre, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals," said Bonci, "so they provide the wealth on your shelf for digestive, bone and immune health."
Here are creative ways to use prunes to support your family's well-being.
1. Kids and teens
It's never too early to establish healthy eating patterns. Nutrient-dense foods like prunes can not only help maintain healthy weight during growth and development but also help build strong bones as a preventative measure against bone fractures. Bone mass is acquired while kids are still growing. Physical activity helps develop healthy bones, but what kids eat matters, too. Prunes contain nutrients like boron, potassium and Vitamin K that help support healthy bones and improve bone strength.
2. Young adults
Did you know the bone mass you acquired in childhood is still developing throughout young adulthood? Plant-based eating habits can have a ripple effect for a healthier lifestyle no matter what your goals are. "During our 20s and 30s, we've got busy lifestyles," said Bonci. "We want to bring the quick and the delish to whatever we eat." She recommends finding creative ways to add more nutrients, like Turkey Prune Lettuce Wraps combining ground turkey and prunes in an Asian-inspired lettuce wrap that takes only 15 minutes to prep.
3. Expectant mothers
A healthy mom-to-be nurtures a healthy baby, and consuming plenty of protein and produce supports the health of both. The fibre content found in prunes promotes overall digestive health as well, a welcome bonus for expectant mothers. A quick, easy way to get necessary nutrients in a delicious, healthy way is to have a prune smoothie that's super simple to make.
4. Forties and beyond
As adults age, they need to focus more on their overall health and well-being, especially women nearing menopause. Fibre, calcium, potassium and Vitamin D are under-consumed by most people, and not getting enough of these nutrients can cause health issues. Eating more fruits - like prunes - and vegetables helps increase fibre and nutrient intake. Each serving of prunes contains 3 grams of fibre to support good gut health, powerful antioxidants to prevent cellular damage, plus vitamin B6 and copper - both needed for proper immune health. Prunes have been shown to also help slow bone loss, an especially important factor at this stage of life.