The California Prune Board has joined forces with Italian dietitian and nutritionist, Dr Annamaria Acquaviva, to highlight the nutritional benefits of its premium produce and the role California Prunes can play in ‘eating the rainbow’.
As a concept, ‘eating the rainbow’ has been hailed by health and wellbeing professionals as an easy and enjoyable way to help achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle thanks to the range of vitamins and minerals fruit and vegetables contain.
Dr Acquaviva explains: “Fruits and vegetables contain components that work in synergy to benefit the body. Their protective effects are given by the combined action of water, carbohydrates, fibres, vitamins, minerals and the precious coloured phytocompounds, which characterise fruits and vegetables according to their colour.”
Over the past decade, the California Prune Board has supported significant research into the positive effects California Prunes can have on overall health and the immune system. As a source of vitamin K and manganese, prunes can support the maintenance of healthy bones, while recent research has shown how eating a portion of prunes daily may improve heart health and inflammation in postmenopausal women. Prunes are also the only natural, whole dried fruit to have obtained an authorised nutritional health claim in Europe specifically related to digestive function.
Dr Acquaviva explains: “The blue-purple found in plums, berries, radicchio and black grapes is determined by anthocyanins. In California Prunes the drying process involves the increase of an antioxidant phytochemical: chlorogenic acid, which doubles the antioxidant activity.”
Meanwhile, beta-carotene gives orange-yellow fruit and vegetables like carrots and pumpkin their colour and is an important antioxidant. “It's a phytochemical compound that is part of the carotenoids, which our body converts into vitamin A, essential for many functions of the body,” continues Dr Acquaviva.
“Green vegetables like asparagus, chard, broccoli, artichoke, cabbage, cucumber, parsley, and spinach contain two valuable components: magnesium and folic acid. Magnesium is part of the chlorophyll molecule and promotes normal energy metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, while folic acid is especially important in pregnancy,” adds Dr Acquaviva.
Lycopene and anthocyanins are the phytochemical compounds with antioxidant action responsible for the red colour of tomatoes, peppers and strawberries, while ‘white’ vegetables such as fennel, garlic and cauliflower, like prunes, contain potassium and fibres. Potassium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and normal muscle function, as well as the maintenance of normal blood pressure.
The California Prune Board has curated some of its favourite ‘purple power’ recipes on its blog at californiaprunes.net/rainbow-plates-and-purple-power. To help consumers add a bit of colour to their cuisine and to celebrate the versatility of California Prunes, Italian chef, Andrea Mainardi, has also created a ‘purple’ menu of culinary dishes, which will be shared on www.californiaprunes.net from July 2021.