With the holiday season in full swing, consumers are met with countless opportunities to indulge in decadent, calorie-dense foods, which can make their health goals and choices more challenging to manage. New research from the University of Liverpool, England reports that consuming prunes can help control appetite and reduce overall caloric consumption, serving as a perfect snack to keep holiday cravings at bay.
“These studies demonstrate that dried fruit can both produce satiety and be incorporated into the diet during weight management,” said Professor Jason C G Halford, University of Leeds and President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), who was part of the research team.
The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, researchers compared satiety, appetite, and caloric intake among participants who consumed a snack of either prunes, raisins, or jelly-bean-like candy, all comparable in calories. Researchers found that those who ate prunes consumed the fewest calories overall at subsequent meals. The prune snackers also reported reduced hunger levels, improved satiety, and a greater perceived ability to eat less food at subsequent meals.
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. While there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of pounds lost, the prune group experienced greater weight loss on average than the group who only received healthy snacking guidelines (-4.4 lbs. versus -3.4 lbs.). Additionally, those who consumed prunes also reported higher levels of satisfaction and greater ease of following the weight-loss program.
“This study reveals that nutrient dense prunes can provide an advantage over other snack choices due to their favorable effects on satiety and appetite control,” said Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD Nutrition Advisor for the California Prune Board.
While consumers may be concerned about troublesome side effects for their digestive system, Halford states “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.”
As consumers continue their merry way through this festive season, they may want to consider reaching for a handful of prunes to keep their health goals on track into the new year.
Reference: “Experimental studies and randomised controlled trial investigating the impact of traditional dried fruits consumed as snacks on food intake, experience of appetite and bodyweight” by Joanne A. Harrold, Michele Sadler, Georgina M. Hughes, Emma J. Boyland, Nicola J. Williams, Rory McGill, Jennette Higgs, Janice I. Harland and Jason C. G. Halford, 14 October 2021, Nutrition Bulletin.