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Prunes.  They may not sound exciting or sexy, but they may just become your new best friend after discovering  all the benefits packed into this small, dark, shrivelled up fruit. Long used as an aid to constipation, prunes are brimming with some surprisingly impressive health benefits that might be enough to convince you to add them to your shopping list.

What do prunes have going for them and why do they deserve their place on a list of superfoods?

1. They're an excellent source of fibre. For good reason, prunes and prune juice have long been the answer to irregularity.  High in insoluble fibre, prunes are nature's laxative.  Insoluble fibre doesn't dissolve in water, passing through the gastrointestinal tract and speeding up the journey of food through the gut.  Prunes are also a good source of soluble fibre, the kind that helps to lower LDL, or bad cholesterol.

2. Prunes may help protect against cancer.  This unassuming little fruit contains high levels of phytonutrients called phenols.  Phenols act as antioxidants, protecting against damage from free radicals that can cause cell damage that may lead to diseases such as cancer.  Suprisingly, prunes are also believed to lower the risk of Alzheimer's due to the same free radical fighting power.  

3. They promote bone health.  A recent study by the University of Florida showed that prunes were effective in improving the bone mineral density in postmenopausal women at a time when the risk of osteoporosis increases due to estrogen deficiency.  It's believed that the high content of boron in prunes works to optimize estrogen levels which in turn increases calcium absorption.

4. Prunes help to fight hypertension.  Including half a cup of prunes to your daily diet will provide over 600mg of potassium, an important mineral in maintaining a healthy blood pressure level.   Adding a medium-sized banana to your breakfast will bump up your potassium intake by another 400mg.

Are you convinced yet about prunes?  Maybe if we called them dried plums instead.  Definitely more sexy.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].
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