New research shows prunes can help curb holiday cravings

With the holidays in full swing, consumers are presented with countless opportunities to indulge in decadent, high-calorie foods, which can make their health goals and choices harder to manage. New research from the University of Liverpool, England, reports that consuming prunes can help control appetite and reduce overall calorie intake, serving as a perfect snack to keep holiday cravings at bay.

“These studies show that dried fruit can both produce satiety and be included in the diet during weight management,” said Professor Jason CG Halford, University of Leeds and president of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), who was part of of the research team.

The research was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, researchers compared satiety, appetite and calorie intake in participants who consumed a snack of either prunes, raisins or jelly-bean-like candies, all comparable in calories. Researchers found that those who ate prunes consumed the fewest calories at subsequent meals. The plum snacks also reported reduced hunger, improved satiety and a greater perceived ability to eat less food at subsequent meals.

In the second phase of the study, the researchers focused specifically on weight loss. The participants were divided into two groups: those who followed a 12-week weight-loss program with prunes as a snack and those who followed the same program but only received guidance for healthy snacks. While there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of pounds lost, the plum group experienced more weight loss on average than the group that received only healthy snacking guidelines (-4.4 lbs. vs. -3.4 lbs.). In addition, those who consumed prunes reported higher levels of satisfaction and ease of following the weight-loss program.

“This study shows that high-nutrient prunes may provide an advantage over other snack choices because of their beneficial 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 digestive side effects, Halford states, “These are the first data to show both weight loss and no negative side effects when consuming prunes as part of a weight management diet.”

As consumers carry on merrily this holiday season, consider grabbing a handful of prunes to keep their health goals on track in the new year.

Reference: “Experimental studies and randomized controlled trial investigating the impact of traditional dried fruit consumed as a snack on food intake, appetite, and body weight” by Joanne A. Harrold, Michele Sadler, Georgina M. Hughes, Emma J. Boyland , Nicola J Williams, Rory McGill, Jennette Higgs, Janice I. Harland and Jason CG Halford, October 14, 2021, Nutrition Bulletin.
DOI: 10.1111/nbu.12528