Americans are snacking more than ever before, according to Nielsen, a consumer research group. A full 91 percent of Americans admitted to snacking daily, and 1 in 4 has a snack three to five times a day. As Americans move away from three square meals a day and move to snacking throughout the day, it's important to keep nutrient density in mind when choosing what to snack on.
California dried plums fit this role as a nutrient-dense snack that may promote satiety, or feelings of fullness, while also keeping blood sugar levels stable. This means that reaching for a dried plum (aka prune) on one or two of those daily snacking occasions may keep you satisfied longer, while giving your body key nutrients and potentially balancing the spikes in blood sugar levels. This benefit is likely due to dried plums being a low-glycemic index (GI) food, which means they are more satiating and do not cause a spike in blood glucose levels after consumption. In addition, dried plums are a good source of fiber.
Nielsen data also shows that women snack more often than men and choose different kinds of foods—namely, they crave foods that are sweet versus foods that are salty. Dried plums fit the bill for women, giving them the sweet taste they crave, but with fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K—all in less than 100 calories for four to five dried plums. Vitamin K is important for women as well as men because it plays a vital role in blood clotting and is essential to building strong bones and preventing heart disease.
"Dried plums help people to manage their weight through improved satiety, or, in other words, that satisfaction people have between meals," explains Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh and team sports dietitian for the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Because of this, I always recommend dried plums as a snack or encourage my athletes and patients to cook with them. You get your nutrients, an array of health benefits, and a naturally sweet taste."
Abstracts presented at the Experimental Biology conference earlier this year suggest that dried plums may help manage blood sugar levels and curb appetite when compared to baked goods such as a low-fat muffin. The abstracts are posted at The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (April 2014). According to lead researcher Mark Kern, PhD, RD, CSSD, from the Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University, consuming nutrient dense snacks, like dried plums, is a smart step toward better dietary choices.
These findings confirm results of Kern's earlier published studies in Appetite and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, which examined the role of dried plums in satiety and found that they do, in fact, aid in keeping you feeling full, which could help to promote a healthy weight.
California dried plums have unique health benefits:
>>They are naturally low in fat and sodium and cholesterol-free. They may also help reduce LDL cholesterol.
>>Dried plums may provide bone-protective benefits. A clinical trial found that dried plums improve bone mineral density (BMD) in post-menopausal women, and additional research found that dried plums restore bone in animal models of hormone deficiency-related osteoporosis and restore bone loss due to normal aging.
>>Dried plums promote digestive health and are palatable and more effective than psyllium for the treatment of mild to moderate constipation, and should be considered as first-line therapy.
In addition to their health benefits, California dried plums are also versatile in the kitchen and in your active lifestyle:
>>Dried plums can be enjoyed straight out of the bag for an on-the-go snack or as a perfect addition to a kid's lunch box or after-school snack.
>>They are naturally sweet, act as a flavor enhancer, and can be used in a range of dishes.
>>Dried plums add moisture to meat and baked entrées and improve the texture and taste of stuffings, sauces, and marinades—perfect for classic fall and winter comfort-food recipes.
>>Dried plums can be a substitute for fats and sugar when cooking or baking.
>>They make the perfect topping to any great meal. Sprinkle dried plums on top of salads, oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal.
Source: California Dried Plum Board, californiadriedplums.org