Consumption of Prunes Does Not Undermine Weight Management or Produce Adverse Gastrointestinal Effects

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Consumption of Prunes Does Not Undermine Weight Management or Produce Adverse Gastrointestinal Effects

Consumption of Prunes Does Not Undermine Weight Management or Produce Adverse Gastrointestinal Effects
July 08
10:18 2014

New research presented at the European Congress on Obesity shows that there are no negative consequences of including prunes in weight control diets, in fact some evidence shows that they may improve weight loss. The research by Professor Jason Halford and Dr Jo Harrold, Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, was instigated by the California Prune Board who were also successful a year ago, in securing an EU health claim for prunes which confirmed that eating 100g daily contributes to normal bowel function.

Despite literature demonstrating the high fibre content of prunes and their acute effects on appetite, dried fruits have historically been restricted in recommendations for a healthy diet specifically for weight management.

Consultant dietitian to the California Prune Board Jennette Higgs, comments “The origins of this viewpoint are unclear but they relate to the fact that when compared to fresh plums on a weight basis (eg per 100g), they appear to contain more sugar/energy, but when compared per portion, the sugar and energy is in fact the same since all that changes from plum to prune is a partial dehydration. Another concern has been the tollerability issues associated with the incorporation of substantive amounts of prunes into the daily diet.”

The new study examined whether incorporating prunes into a weight loss intervention undermined weight control; whether low fibre consumers could tolerate the inclusion of prunes in their diet for a 12-week period, and; whether prunes induced chronic beneficial changes in appetite.

The study included 100 overweight and obese low-fibre consumers (74 women, 26 men; mean age 43 years and mean body mass index (BMI) 30kg/m²), with participants completing a randomised study of two groups to assess the effects prunes (140g/day for women, 171g/day for men) on weight and appetite over a 12-week period of active weight loss. The intervention group were given prunes, whereas the active control panel were given advice on healthy snacks.

The researchers found that taking prunes as part of a healthy life-style intervention, produced significant changes in body weight (mean loss of 2.0kg or 2.4%) and waist circumference (2.5cm/2.3%) from baseline.

Weight loss between the groups diverged during the last 4 weeks with a trend for greater weight loss in the prune group. Moreover, despite the high daily doses, prunes were well tolerated.

Professor Halford says, “These are the first data to demonstrate both weight loss and no negative side effects when consuming prunes as part of a weight management diet.  Enduring effects on appetite were also observed with data showing increased fullness in the prune group after week 8.  The results may relate to the chronic appetite effects of prunes and dried fruit.

“These results demonstrate that consuming significant quantities of prunes daily, as part of a healthy, balanced diet does not lead to weight gain, and go some way to allaying fears that consuming dried fruit should be restricted, compared to fresh fruit, within healthy diet & lifestyle advice.  Whilst consumption of fruit and vegetables still falls short of recommended levels, to be able to recommend a convenient snack option such as dried fruit could provide an easy and enjoyable solution to help contribute to this shortfall,” adds Jennette Higgs.

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