Prunes Hailed As
Anti-Cancer Superfruit
PRUNES, the age-old relief for constipation, were yesterday hailed a superfruit with amazing powers to combat cancer and heart disease.
Researchers reckon they could be more than twice as effective as any other fruit or vegetable in fighting killer illnesses.
And last night top dietician Lucy Daniels said: "It now seems wise to have four prunes with breakfast."
US experts in Boston found that the famed wrinklies, a favourite of supermodel Caprice and ex-Baywatch beauty Alexandra Paul, have very high levels of antioxidants. The body needs these to mop up free radicals which can cause cancer and heart disease.
The researchers measured fruit and veg for their oxygen radical absorbency capacity.
This calculates the ability of foods to soak up the radicals.
Prunes scored 5770 units per 100 grams on the ORAC scale.
Raisins, their nearest rival, were way back on 2830.
And apples, the fruit that keeps the doctor away, got a mere 210.
Lucy, of the British Dietetic Association, said: "We will watch this scoring technique with interest.
"We recommend five portions of fruit and veg a day, but we would certainly not advise five portions of prunes alone.
"Antioxidants are the good guys and can combat the free radical baddies, produced by the body and enhanced by smoking.
"So if prunes score this highly, then that's great."
Tests on prune eaters showed that their anti-oxidant powers rose by up to a quarter.
Dr Ronald Prior, who led the study at Tufts University's Human Research Centre on Ageing, said: "If you ate prunes you would double or treble the levels in the blood compared to eating fruits lower down the table.
"People could be eating a lot of fruit, but taking in relatively low levels of ORAC."
Tests on rats also showed that such foods may help beat memory loss.
Dr Prior said: "If these findings are borne out in further research, people may be able to reduce the risk of ageing simply by adding high-ORAC fruits to their diets."
Prunes are rich in fibre, Vitamin A, iron, potassium and fat-free.
They are also said to be one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs.
Sales of prunes rose eight per cent last year.