Eating prunes is officially beneficial for digestive health confirms the EU Commission in a final authorisation ruling recently. Prunes are now the only natural, whole and dried fruit to achieve an authorised health claim in the EU following a six-year application process by the California Prune Board.
With eight out of ten adults in the UK not eating enough fibre, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, the new EFSA ruling is welcome news for health professionals and provides final scientific proof of what generations of people have known for centuries – prunes contribute to normal bowel function.
“Discussing bowel function in the UK is a very difficult topic, so public health messaging around this subject can be hard to communicate,” says nutritionist and registered dietitian Jennette Higgs. “For normal function the recommendation is that we eat 25g of fibre in our diet every day, and yet 80% of the UK does not eat enough. Fibre comes from fruits, vegetables, salad, wholegrains, nuts and seeds – so it is important to include a plentiful range of these foods in your daily diet.”
Recent studies have shown that the average fibre intake of UK adults is currently 18.4g/day,, which is 26% below the recommended dietary fibre intake of 25g/day. Eating 100g (8-12) of prunes every day as part of a balanced diet will provide the beneficial digestive health effect and contributes 7.1g or a quarter of the recommended fibre intake.
Three prunes provides one of the five-a-day fruit and vegetable requirements necessary for a healthy and balanced diet and prunes are also a good source of potassium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure; a source of vitamin B6 and copper, which support normal functioning of both your immune and nervous systems; and a source of vitamin K and manganese, which support the maintenance of normal bones.
The aim of the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulations is to protect consumers from false health claims in labelling, advertising, marketing or promotional activity. All health claims are judged using rigorous scientific scrutiny and require top quality human research based on internationally agreed good scientific practice.
The EFSA ruling comes as a result of six years of comprehensive study to demonstrate the beneficial effect of prunes on digestive health and brings together the total weight of evidence brought from a series of studies concerning gut function, as a result of incorporating prunes in the diet.
California is the largest producer of prunes in the world and they are known to be the best quality due to the region’s rigorous harvesting techniques and quality control assessments. The premium produce is supplied to 70 countries worldwide and the region contributes 60% of the world’s prune supplies.
Mark Dorman, International Marketing Director of the Californian Prune Board adds, “This EFSA ruling has confirmed what people have known for centuries and should help people make a more informed choice about what they are eating and feeding their families. We have been working in the UK and Europe for the past 25 years, raising the profile of California Prunes as the healthy and nutritious commodity they are – we finally now have the EU health ruling which confirms that prunes offer a convenient way to maintain normal bowel function.”
2 Henderson L, Gregory J, Irving K, Swan G (2003) The National Diet & Nutrition Survey: adults aged 19 to 64 years. Volume 2. Energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol intake. HMSO
3 Equivalent to 13.8g non-starch polysaccharide (NSP)
4 Bates B, Lennox A, Prentice A, Bates C, Swan G (2012) National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) headline results from Years 1, 2 and 3 (combined) combined of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009 – 2010/11). Food Standards Agency.
5 EFSA (2010) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates and dietary fibre http://www.efsa.europa.eu/de/scdocs/doc/1462.pdf
6 EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (2012) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to dried plums of ‘prune’ cultivars (Prunes domestica L.) and maintenance of normal bowel function (ID 1164, further assessment) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal.10; 2712
The California Prune Board