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For the longest, heart problems were considered a man’s health concern. But the truth is that heart trouble, including heart attacks and stroke, is the number one killer of women in this county.
And after menopause your chances of ending up with heart disease only increase.
Now, however, thanks to a new study, grabbing some heart disease protection post-menopause could be as simple as adding a heart-healthy fruit snack to your day…
Your new prescription
For the study, led by San Diego State University, researchers recruited 48 healthy, postmenopausal women to see if eating prunes could be the key to lowering heart disease risk.
Participants were then divided into three groups:
- The control group ate no prunes
- The second group ate 50 grams (about 5 – 6 prunes) daily
- The third group ate 100 grams (or about 10 – 12 prunes) each day
The women then did nothing else different. They didn’t exercise more, eat more veggies, or go on a diet to lose weight.
Prunes were it!
From there, the researchers analyzed biomarkers related to heart disease risk.
And here’s what they found…
Eating any level of prunes, whether 50 – 100 grams resulted in:
- Higher levels of “good” cholesterol, known as HDL
- A lower ratio of total cholesterol to HDL
- Higher antioxidant capacity, which is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular issues
- Lower levels of inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha associated with heart disease risk
And the prunes provided all of these heart health benefits, without altering the participants’ body mass index (BMI) or their weight, despite eating them on top of their usual diet.
So why does the wrinkly fruit work?
Well, the researchers say that the precise mechanisms by which they lower heart disease aren’t yet known. However, they suspect it’s due to the antioxidant-powered phenolic compounds, fiber and other nutrients that are present in the fruit.
They pack even more benefits
Now, just because this study included postmenopausal women, that doesn’t mean men can’t glean heart health benefits from prunes, too.
And if you decide to eat more prunes daily to guard your heart, that’s not the only benefit you could achieve.
In fact, previous research shows that prunes can also:
- Prevent and restore bone loss
- Support gut health
- Lower blood pressure
- And even reverse the damage of multiple sclerosis (MS)
I like to add my prunes to my breakfast smoothie for natural sweetness and chop them up on top of salads. I also add chopped prunes to my pancake or muffin batter for extra fiber.
To make my favorite breakfast smoothie, you’ll need:
- 3 prunes
- 1 medium frozen banana
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons rolled oatmeal
- ¼ cup vanilla protein powder
- 1 tablespoon organic creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
Simply drop it all into your blender, blend on high until smooth, and enjoy!
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Menopause and Heart Disease — American Heart Association