BY DEE THOMPSON
My grandparents never came to our house without bringing prunes. The prunes were in a box, dried, like raisins, and could be eaten that way; but in the 1960’s when I was a kid, Papaw always fixed “stewed prunes.” They would cook after dinner while the dishes were being washed. Papaw always dumped the entire box in water and cooked them on low, simmering for about 30 minutes. I never realized he ate them for health reasons, for regularity. I just knew he liked all fruit.
Prunes, of course, are dried plums. My mom told me recently that when Papaw was growing up on a farm in North Georgia, they dried fruit on tables in the summer. If a rain cloud came out, everyone dropped what they were doing and ran outside to move the tables into the barn. They dried peaches and apples mainly. In the early days, plums were dried outside in the sun as well, but today they are dried using modern indoor dehydrating systems.
I had never really thought about dried plums as a snack until Phil came back from interviewing the Sunsweet folks in Yuba City, California. Sunsweet Growers, Inc., is a growers cooperative founded in 1917, and they engaged The Storyline Group last year to publish their 100-year history. While he was out there, Phil got hooked on PlumSweets (dried plum bits coated in dark chocolate), and when he returned to Atlanta, he immediately bought five packages. Phil calls it the perfect food, because besides the natural health benefits of prunes, the dark chocolate is good for his heart.
While reviewing those interviews, I got a powerful urge to try Sunsweet products myself, so I picked up some Amazin’ Prunes at the grocery store.They are incredibly delicious! My teenage son likes the Ones – a healthy snack, for a change! I thought it would be interesting to do a little research and see just how healthy they are.
Turns out the Sunsweet promise that prunes are good for your health is absolutely true:
- They are low calorie [30 calories] and high fiber. Eating a few dried plums helps you to feel fuller longer, and eating a few before meals helps to curb the calorie intake.
- The fiber in dried plums helps keep blood sugar stable. It delays the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream by slowing the rate that food leaves the stomach.
- The potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin K in dried plums help to prevent osteoporosis by inhibiting bone loss.
- Dried plums are a great source of beta carotene – which decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- Worried about inflammation or bloating? Eating dried plums can help minimize the oxidation of your low-density lipoprotein, which limits inflammation.
The days of my grandfather eating stewed prunes at night are history, but if he were still around, I’m sure he would enjoy the convenience of eating Sunsweet products. My family sure does.