I have mentioned once or twice how much I love prunes (which is why I was so happy to be approached by the California Prune team), and there are two main reasons why: the first is that they are so nutritious and the second is their versatility.
The nutrition part is obviously important for a nutritionist. I need to have foods that I can recommend to my clients that are healthy, full of micronutrients and fibre, and California Prunes are perfect for that. California Prunes have consistently shown nutritional benefits in studies. They contain vitamin K (necessary for blood and bone health), copper (important in enzyme function and bone health), manganese (which helps to form connective tissue and absorb calcium), iron (to carry oxygen around the body) to name just a few of the micronutrients. Iron is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the UK, particularly in women and teenaged girls.
They are of course, famously high in fibre too and just four California Prunes contain 3g of fibre, which is around 11% of the daily requirement. For a long time fibre was vaguely known to be good for digestive health, however now we know a lot more about its role, which actually goes far beyond digestive health and is now understood to influence the whole body. This is because fibre feeds the bacteria that live in the gut, which in turn, train our immune systems; reduce inflammation; make neurotransmitters and communicate with the brain. Fibre also has a beneficial effect on blood glucose, slowing down the absorption of carbohydrate into the blood stream and reducing the likelihood of blood sugar spikes and crashes. Most people in the UK get around two thirds of the fibre that is recommended (30g for adults, 20-25g for children aged 6-18yrs), so it’s worth thinking about including a bit more and seeing how much better you feel.
To have a food that does all this is gold for a nutritionist, but what makes it even better is that California Prunes can be incorporated into our diets in so many different ways. There are the familiar adding to porridge or yoghurt ways, or grabbing a few as a snack, but they go beautifully in savoury dishes too. Mixing well with salty flavours (one of my favourite examples of this is the California Prunes, aubergine and halloumi skewers recipe) and adding sweetness to salads or roasts. Prune puree can also replace some of the sugar and fat in baked dishes, being sweet and having just the right texture. Of course, when you add California Prunes instead of sugar you are reducing the negative effects of refined carbohydrates and also getting all the nutritional benefits. This is why it is easy to recommend them as an addition to my clients diets. Tossing a handful into a sweet or savoury meal or having some as a mid-morning snack can mean the difference between getting enough iron or fibre for example, and being deficient.