Maybe you used to make fun of your grandma for eating her daily serving of prunes, but as it turns out, she may have been onto something. Loaded with nutrients that protect your bones and improve your overall health, prunes might be one of the most important foods for healthy aging.
If you didn’t already know, prunes are actually just dried plums. Though they contain a decent amount of sugar, they are also packed with fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. In other words, you don’t have to worry about prunes spiking your blood sugar, because the fiber takes care of that!
The fiber can also help combat constipation and other digestive conditions like hemorrhoids, which are common in older adults. It also helps increase beneficial bacteria in the gut, which could contribute to weight loss and has been shown to promote satiety, making you less likely to overeat. Just ½ cup serving of prunes contains six grams of fiber, which is a hefty dose! They are also high in other vital nutrients like potassium (which helps with digestion and blood pressure), as well as other key vitamins like vitamin A, K, B6, niacin, and iron!
When it comes to the health of your muscles and bones, prunes are a great addition to your diet because they contain boron, a mineral that is necessary for building bone and muscle. In one study, consuming prunes showed to prevent loss of bone mass in postmenopausal women prone to osteoporosis. Even more impressive was that to see results, these women only had to eat five to six prunes a day. Another study also showed that consuming prunes reduced the effects of radiation on bone mass, so if you’re in treatment, get some prunes in your diet, ASAP!
Because they’re loaded with iron, prunes have many beauty benefits, too. Iron deficiency, which is very common in older women, causes oxidative damage to the skin, leading to more wrinkles, fine lines, and a dull appearance. Not to mention, hair loss. Add iron back into the diet by noshing on a few prunes and the antioxidants in the fruit will send oxygen to damaged skin cells and hair follicles. Eat a few prunes a day and you’ll notice healthier locks and more radiant skin!
The best thing about prunes is that you can reap all their benefits really easily. In fact, most of the studies mentioned only required eating as little as five prunes daily to see changes. You can eat them straight up, add them to baked goods, puree them to use as a jam, or add them to smoothies. The choice is yours! For your healthiest bet, choose prunes that don’t contain added sugars or preservatives. We love these from Sunny Fruit ($6.99, Amazon).
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.