Monday, July 19, 2010

Sweet snack that helps us stay slim

Craving a sweet treat? Of course, we know we should reach for fruit instead of candy or ice cream, and that's easier than ever in summer because so many yummy fruits are in season. But here's a sweet bite you probably haven't thought about. It's portable, not perishable, and available year round. Yes, I'm talking about the humble prune. The docs at Real Age remind us that with their high fiber content, prunes help us to feel full and make it less likely we'll overeat at mealtime. Here's some of what they have to say about the benefits of prunes, aka dried plums.

Hunger Be Gone
When researchers gave 45 volunteers a midmorning nibble of white bread and low-fat cheese, adding prunes to the snack produced some significant findings. The snackers reported feeling less hungry after the prune-infused nosh -- and they ate 6 percent fewer calories at lunch compared with when they had snacked on just bread and cheese. (Did you know? Prunes are great for your heart and bones, too.)

The Fiber Factor
So what gives prunes the advantage in edging out hunger? It's the fiber. Even though each test snack had roughly the same amount of protein, calories, carbs, and fat, the prune snack packed more than twice the fiber. That chewy fiber makes you eat more slowly, allowing your brain to realize when you've had enough to eat. And the roughage sits in your stomach for a long time, slowing down digestion. The fiber also reduces the rate at which sugar is soaked up into your bloodstream -- good for keeping insulin levels on an even keel and reducing between-meal hunger pangs.

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