If there’s one fruit that doesn’t get the anti-aging food respect it deserves, it’s the prune. In fact the very word conjures up pictures of pictures of fussy old people who spend too much time worrying about whether they’re “regular” enough … not the kind of self-image today’s over-50 really embraces. But in truth, the noble prune has been taking a big-time bad wrap. Not only are prunes far from being an “old guy food”, they’re actually full of great anti-aging stuff.
Outstanding antioxidant properties
When it comes to antioxidant power, it’s hard to beat prunes. In fact, according to the USDA, it’s impossible – prunes are actually rated at the very top of the USDA’s Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale, which measures the antioxidant effectiveness of plant-based foods.
Antioxidants are substances that can neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced by the process of cellular oxidation. Free radicals damage the cells with which they interact, and are believed to be the primary source of many age-related problems; free radical damage has been implicated in everything from Alzheimer’s to age spots. That makes antioxidants a primary tool in the anti-aging arsenal.
High in fiber, low in sodium
At least the prune is just about universally recognized for providing plenty of dietary fiber – that’s where it’s reputation for correcting or preventing “irregularity” comes from. But fiber is good for more than the digestion. Many studies have shown that dietary fiber is important in the prevention of many types of cancer, notably colorectal cancer. In addition, a long-term study of more than 50,000 Swedish women indicate that a diet high in fruit and cereal fiber can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 50%.
The fact that prunes are low in sodium makes them heart-healthy, promoting normal blood pressure. They’re also believed to be effective in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Vitamins and more
Prunes are a naturally rich source of vitamin A, which the body uses to produce collagen. Because the breakdown or loss of collagen leads to wrinkled skin, vitamin A is an important part of anti-aging. They also contain vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant.
Prunes also contain copper, which promotes youthful skin, and potassium, which is crucial to muscle strength and heart health.