Opinion: All about prunes (Wink-Wink)


Let’s talk about prunes. No fruit has ever been more maligned, and none warrants a wink and a smirk more than prunes.

Face it, when we think of prunes, we think of old folks and their inherent digestive concerns. “Have you had your prunes today, Grandpa?” (wink-wink, smirk-smirk).

Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding these tasty fruits has all but obliterated the fact that prunes are also one of the most healthful foods on the planet. A study funded by Tufts University, for example, listed prunes as the number one antioxidant found anywhere, containing more than twice the antioxidant capacity of blueberries or raisins.

This is mostly because of the high levels of phenolic acids. I never took chemistry, but I did read somewhere that these acids are also known to slow the aging process.

Florida State University conducted a study which concluded that prunes help prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Why? Prunes are loaded with the elements boron and potassium, both known for keeping bones healthy. I suppose guys would benefit, too.

Now, let’s deal with the wink-wink side of prunes. Fact: prunes keep you regular, and if you do get knotted up from time to time, they fix the problem and get you back on track.

There are two reasons for this. They have a high concentration of dietary fiber, and they are loaded with sorbitol, a substance that kick starts peristalsis, the internal process that keeps things moving.

Mom used to feed us prunes with breakfast. She stewed them in a small amount of water, making them softer and easier to eat. Looking back, I have to say they worked (wink-wink).

As good as they are, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an advertising campaign for prunes. I heard years ago that the California Fruit Growers Assn. tried to run a sweepstakes promoting prunes once but had to cancel because the materials would have required the phrase, “Void where prohibited.” (I didn’t make this up.)

More recently, a national ad agency apparently made some gains with a startling discovery: While nobody likes prunes, everybody likes dried fruit. The ad guys simply changed the label from Prunes to Dried Plums.

That’s all well and good. But, they’re still prunes (wink-wink, smirk-smirk).

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