SAN DIEGO — Eating prunes is normally done to keep you regular, but just a handful a day may do wonders for your heart too. New research shows that adding five prunes to your daily diet can also reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation, especially among older women.
Heart disease poses a significant public health challenge as it is the number one cause of death worldwide. In the U.S., one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease, accounting for about 655,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC. In fact, one person dies every 36 seconds in America from cardiovascular disease, health officials say.
“When you look at our prior research and the research of others combined with this new data, you’ll see consistent evidence that eating prunes can promote health,” says Shirin Hooshmand, lead researcher and professor at the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at SDSU, in a statement.
Eating prunes may improve cholesterol levels, too
For the study, which was funded in part by the California Prune Board, 48 healthy, post-menopausal women were divided into three groups. One group ate no prunes, and the two others ate 50g or 100g of prunes daily over the six month study. The other aspects of the women’s diets and lifestyles stayed similar to before the study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
Researchers measured participants’ risk of heart disease markers at the beginning and end of the study. They did this to see if there were any improvements among those who ate prunes.
Results show similar positive results among those who ate 50g and 100g of prunes. Inflammation levels also lowered after eating prunes daily and antioxidants were higher. There was no remarkable change seen in participants’ weight or BMI.
The study shows that prunes could be a good addition to the diet to reduce heart disease and inflammation, as well as improving antioxidant capacity.
“Reducing chronic inflammation and increasing antioxidant capacity in the body is associated with lower risk of CVD, along with many other diseases,” says Mark Kern, a professor of nutrition at SDSU. “Not only does this study show that prunes may be a good way to reduce inflammation and increase antioxidant capacity, it also suggests that eating prunes every day may improve cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women.”
Recent research also shows that a postmenopausal woman with weak bones saw bone density increase from eating 50g of prunes every day for 16 months.
SWNS writer Olivia Devereux-Evans contributed to this report.