Prunes help to combat obesity and curb hunger, new research reveals

Eating a small portion of prunes daily can help weight loss and decrease appetite, according to new findings from the University of Liverpool.

The research also reveals that prunes contain no more sugar than a plum, its fresh fruit equivalent.

The study showed that including a modest portion of prunes as part of a weight loss diet, produced significant changes in body weight and waist size. There was also a trend for the prune eaters to achieve greater weight loss during the last four weeks of the study and long term effects on appetite were also observed.

CA Dried Plum finals

The researchers concluded that including prunes into weight control diets may be of benefit to long-term success, by tackling hunger and satisfying appetite.

CA Dried Plum finals

Natural dried fruits
Dieters have tended to shy away from dried fruits believing them to be higher in sugar than fresh. This perception has been reinforced by the introduction of dried fruits with added sugar, such as cranberries and fruit juice infused dried fruits. But traditional dried fruits, such as prunes, are simply dried plums, with the same natural sugar content as their fresh counterparts and no added sugar. One plum becomes one prune, water removed, so the calorie content remains the same.

Plums beneficial to teeth and gums
Another concern about snacking on dried fruit, is dental health. Cariogenic bacteria utilise sucrose to produce harmful acids and dental plaque, yet sucrose is minimal in prunes (0.15g/100g), the main sugars being fructose and glucose. California prunes also contain 26.5% carbohydrate as non-fermentable sorbitol, which is used widely in chewing gums for its low cariogenicity. Research on prunes is confirming that they contain certain bioactive compounds with antimicrobial properties, capable of inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease

Professor Jason Halford and Dr Jo Harrold, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, Liverpool University, presented initial results at the 2014 European Congress on Obesity , having assessed the effects of prunes on weight and appetite by studying 100 overweight and obese low fibre consumers – 74 women and 26 men; 43 years; BMI 29.8 in a 12-week study. All subjects received the same standard dietetic weight loss advice, plus the prune intervention group were provided with 140g/d (171g for men) prunes for snacks, whereas the active control group were advised on healthy snacks.

The study showed that including prunes as part of a weight loss intervention, produced significant changes in body weight (1.99kg/2.4%; p<0.000) and waist circumference (2.5cm/2.3%; p<0.000) from baseline. There was a trend for the prune eaters to achieve greater weight loss during the last four weeks of the study and enduring effects on appetite were also observed with AUC (area under the curve) analysis demonstrating increased fullness in the prune group after week 8 (p=0.05). It is worth noting too that study compliance was good and, despite the high daily doses, the prunes were well tolerated. The researchers concluded that including prunes into weight control diets may be of benefit to long-term success, by tackling hunger and satisfying appetite.

Peachy foods protect against a cluster of ageing diseases

Philadelphia: Fruits with stones, such as peaches, plums and nectarines, help protect against several ageing diseases, according to new research from the US.


The findings of research scheduled for presentation at the 244th American Chemical Society meeting, to be held August 19-23, 2012 in Philadelphia, reveal a protective effect from consuming these fruits, against against metabolic syndrome–a cluster of factors that predict obesity-related diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.
Texas AgriLife Research food scientist Dr Luis Cisneros-Zevallos said:  “In recent years obesity has become a major concern in society due to the health problems associated to it.
“In the US, statistics show that around 30 percent of the population is overweight or obese, and these cases are increasing every year in alarming numbers.
“The major concern about obesity is the associated disease known as metabolic syndrome,” he observed.
“Our studies have shown that stone fruits – peaches, plums and nectarines – have bioactive compounds that can potentially fight the syndrome, ” Dr Cisneros-Zevallos reported.” Our work indicates that phenolic compounds present in these fruits have antiobesity, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties in different cell lines and may also reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol LDL.
“Our work shows that the four major phenolic groups–anthocyanins, clorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives and catechins–work on different cells –fat cells, macrophages and vascular endothelial cells,” he continued. “They modulate different expressions of genes and proteins depending on the type of compound. However, at the same time, all of them are working simultaneously in different fronts against the components of the disease, including obesity, inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Each of these stone fruits contain similar phenolic groups but in differing proportions so all of them are a good source of health promoting compounds and may complement each other,” he concluded.
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Plums – the cheap & cheerful superfood!


Houston: Plums have had their status as a ‘super-food’ by scientists confirmed yet again, by scientists.

They found the purple fruit matched or exceeded blueberries in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help prevent disease.

Researcher Dr David Byrne, of AgriLife Research, said tests revealed one plum contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a handful of blueberries.

Antioxidants are molecules that sweep through a body looking for free radicals to knock out.

Free radicals are atoms or molecules that lurk where diseases like cancer and heart disease are found.

Scientist Dr Luis Cisneros, who helped with the Texas-based research, said: ‘Blueberries have some stiff competition.

‘People tend to eat just a few blueberries at a time – a few on their cereal or maybe as an ingredient mixed with other fruit in a fruit salad.
‘But people will eat a whole plum at once and get the full benefit.’

The US team examined the full content of plums then tested the effect of the compounds they found on breast cancer cells and cholesterol in the lab.
The scientist carried further research which threw up information which they hope can be used for breeding efforts to produce better fruit.

Dr Byrne noted that one benefit the team found was that the phytonutrients in plums inhibited breast cancer growth without adversely affecting normal cell growth.
He said this type of research needs further study.

Dr Cisneros added blueberries, peaches and nectarines have similar benefits to plums.