October 17th is Four Prunes Day.
Why four prunes?
It was named after earlier medical advice to help digestive regularity.
The recommendation is that eating four to nine prunes daily will aid digestion.
Why? Prunes are a fiber food, but also contain fructans and sorbitol, fermentable sugars that can have a laxative effect.
Even people with no problem like to eat them for general gut health: A healthy gut is a healthy immune system.
Prunes are also a nutrition powerhouse and packed with B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and boron and Vitamin K.
Alas, this homeopathic tie to constipation was so widely touted that prunes, which are dried plums, were perceived by American growers to be stigmatized.
Sales dropped over time, as more and more over-the-counter remedies for constipation appeared in pharmacies.
Prunes were more top-of-mind as a digestive remedy than as a snack and recipe ingredient.
As a result, plum growers took to marketing and in 2001 successfully petitioned the government to allow prunes to be rebranded as “dried plums.”
This was a purely American undertaking. Other cultures love prunes unreservedly. The French, for example, prepare prunes stuffed with foie gras as a delicacy.
And we’re exercising our choice to call the fruit prunes, not dried plums.
Most prunes sold in the U.S. are grown in California from a particular variety of plum that dries the best.
These dried fruits are delicious. Eat more prunes!
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