Just about everyone is familiar with the health giving properties of the humble prune. While prunes and their juice are perhaps best known for their mild laxative effect, they are also an excellent source of dietary fiber - about 6%, or 0.06 g per gram of prune. Dried plums contain both soluble and insoluble fiber as well as sorbitol, an unfermentable sugar which has been shown to produce a good medium for the production of desirable intestinal microorganisms. Insoluble fiber adds bulk and pulls water into the intestine resulting in a softer stool that is more quickly eliminated. Soluble fiber mixes with water in the stomach to become more viscous. This can result in the stomach emptying more slowly, giving a feeling of satiety, and aiding in the absorption of important nutrients.
This is why prunes and prune juice are common home remedies for constipation.
However, prunes also have a high antioxidant content, and this is important as antioxidants protect your body's cells against the effects of free radicals. Why? Because free radicals can damage cells, and are believed to play a role in causing heart disease, cancer and other diseases!
So, what is a prune?
Put simply, a prune is the common name for various plum cultivars - although usually the European plum Prunus domestica, which is sold as dried fruit.
A preservative may be added to the dried fruit, usually potassium sorbate - the potassium salt of sorbic acid. This is used to prevent mold and yeast spoilage. Sorbic acid is completely safe, since it is found in nature in the European sorb apple and in rowanberries.
The dried fruit is occasionally referred to as a dried plum.
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