Life Wellbeing Prunes: The snack that helps you cut down on … Christmas snacking

Prunes: The snack that helps you cut down on … Christmas snacking

Prunes are moreish, just like potato chips, but paradoxically they also curb your appetite. Photo: Getty
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When the bowls of chips and pretzels are being passed around at the officer Christmas party, shake your head and say: “No thanks, I’m waiting for the prunes.”

They may not go so well with chardonnay but University of Liverpool researchers report that “consuming prunes can help control appetite and reduce overall caloric consumption, serving as a perfect snack to keep holiday cravings at bay”.

It’s an interesting finding that goes against common wisdom. Prunes do have some value as a fibre-rich laxative. But they’re a dried fruit – like sultanas and raisins – and their sugar content causes them to be candied.

In other words, they should be the last thing we eat if we’re worried about weight gain and tipping ourselves into type 2 diabetes.

Thinks again, says Professor Jason C. G. Halford, co-author of the new study, and President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity.

“These studies demonstrate that dried fruit can both produce satiety and be incorporated into the diet during weight management,” he said in a prepared statement.

How did they reach this conclusion?

The study was in two parts. First, researchers compared satiety (feeling full), appetite, and caloric intake among participants who consumed a snack of either prunes, raisins, or jellybeans – all of which contained roughly the same number of calories.

Researchers found that those who ate prunes – let’s say for morning tea – consumed the fewest calories overall at lunchtime.

The ‘prune snackers’ reported reduced hunger levels, improved satiety, and “a greater perceived ability to eat less food at subsequent meals”.

The latter suggests they left more on their plate than usual.

In the second phase of the study, researchers focused specifically on weight loss.

Participants were divided into two groups – those who followed a 12-week weight loss program with prunes as their snack and those who followed the same program but were only provided with guidance on healthy snacking.

Overall, the prune group experienced greater weight loss on average (minus 2 kilos) than the group who only received healthy snacking guidelines (minus 1.3 kilos).

Additionally, and perhaps more significantly, those who consumed “prunes also reported higher levels of satisfaction and greater ease of following the weight-loss program”.

Take away: if you’re on a diet, prunes as a snack appear to help you eat less at meal times.

Of course, few people are on a strict diet over the Christmas period, but prunes just might allow you to forgo a second helping of baked potatoes and pork crackling.

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