The sweetness and chewy texture of dried apricots and prunes may first peak your interest in them, but you'll also be enticed by their potential health benefits. These dried fruits impact your body in a number of ways, from providing constipation relief to helping prevent cancer. Eating dried apricots will also help you maintain healthy skin and good vision. They are a delicious snack alone, and they also pair well with nuts.
Dried apricots and prunes are a a good source of energy. One ounce of either dried fruit provides you with 67 calories. Dried apricots are slightly higher in sugar, with 15 grams per ounce, whereas prunes have only 11 grams. These sweet fruits are a great snacking alternative to candy or processed foods. They have more fiber, vitamins, minerals and health benefits than processed snacks, and they are all-natural. Look for dried apricots and prunes with no added sugar, but eat them in moderation because it's easy to consume more than you need.
Dried apricots are a good source of vitamin A, providing you with 20 percent of the recommended daily value. Prunes contain considerably less, with only 4 percent. Your immune function, reproductive health and vision all require adequate levels of vitamin A, which also supports cell production in the heart, lungs and kidneys. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin A may reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer. However, more research is needed to determine the exact link between vitamin A and cancer prevention.
Most plant foods supply your body with antioxidants, and dried apricots and prunes are no exception. According to articles published in "Food Chemistry" in June 2003 and "European Food Research & Technology" in January 2009, plums and dried apricots contain antioxidants called polyphenols. These compounds reduce oxidative stress in your body and may help to prevent cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes, according to an article published in 2005 in "The Journal of American Clinical Nutrition."
If you struggle with chronic constipation, eating prunes daily may provide relief. According to a study published in "Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics" in April 2011, eating prunes softens stool in constipated adults and increases the number of weekly bowel movements significantly. The study showed that eating prunes may be more effective for treating constipation than taking psyllium husk, a dietary fiber supplement. Researchers believe that these benefits are due to the combination of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, dietary fiber and polyphenols in prunes.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A
- Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics: Randomised Clinical Trial: Dried Plums (Prunes) vs. Psyllium for Constipation
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Apricots, Dried, Sulphured, Uncooked
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Plums, Dried (Prunes), Uncooked
- Food Chemistry: Antioxidant Capacity of Phenolic Phytochemicals from Various Cultivars of Plums
- European Food Research & Technology: Effect of Drying Temperature on Polyphenolic Content and Antioxidant Activity of Apricots
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Polyphenols: Antioxidants and Beyond
Erica Kannall is a registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked in clinical nutrition, community health, fitness, health coaching, counseling and food service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in clinical dietetics and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.