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Why Prunes Should Be Your Go-to Holiday Snack

Bowl of Prunes

Flavio Coehlo / Verywell Health

Key Takeaways

  • A new study found that people who snacked on prunes felt less hungry and ate fewer calories overall than people who ate other foods.
  • Eating foods that promote feelings of satisfaction can support your weight management goals.
  • If you don't like prunes, walnuts, chickpeas, and oats are other satisfying foods that can help.

If you're trying to manage your weight for health reasons around the holidays, a new study suggests that making prunes part of your favorite festive treats might help.

The study found that snacking on prunes can help you feel satisfied, control your appetite, and reduce the number of calories you eat overall.

The November study was published in the journal Nutrition Bulletin.

Eating Prunes Can Help You Feel Satisfied

One of the most common reasons why people overeat is because they do not feel satisfied. Finding foods that satisfy your hunger is an important part of achieving your weight management goals.

While they're often touted for their ability to improve digestive regularity, prunes might also help you manage your weight. This new study, funded by the California Prune Board, set out to investigate whether eating California prunes (dried plums) affects appetite, satiety, and calorie control. 

Andrea N. Giancoi, MPH, RD, a nutrition advisor at the California Prune Board, told Verywell the two-part study showed that the participants who snacked on prunes "consumed fewer calories at subsequent meals and reported being less hungry compared to subjects who were assigned alternative snacks that were equal in calories."

A Satisfying Snack

During the first phase of the study, the researchers provided participants with one of three snacks with about the same number of calories. Some participants ate 11 to 14 prunes, some had about a three-fourth cup of raisins, and the rest had about 335 calories' worth of a jelly-bean-like candy.

The researchers found that the participants who ate prunes ended up eating the fewest calories at later meals compared to the people who ate raisins or candy. The prune group also reported fewer feelings of hunger. 

Weight Loss Benefits

During the second part of the study—a 12-week weight loss program—the researchers measured changes in participants' body weights and waist circumferences.

Some of the participants followed a 12-week weight loss program that included having prunes as a snack. The rest of the participants followed the same weight loss program and received guidance on healthy snacking, but did not have prunes as their designated snack.

Giancoli said that "prunes as a snack seemed to provide an advantage over other snack choices" as the participants that ate prunes "reported favorable effects on satiety and appetite control."

The group that snacked on prunes also lost more weight (an average of 4.4-pounds) than the other group (which lost an average of 3.4 pounds).

Study Limitations

The two-part study did have some limitations. It was funded by the California Prune Board, small sample sizes were used, and both parts of the study were not placebo-controlled in design.

The researchers also noted that the difference in weight loss between the two groups was not statistically significant—though, the findings might be clinically relevant for some people. In other words, their doctors might find the results of the study useful if they want to encourage patients to enjoy prunes as part of a nutritious eating plan to manage their weight.

In addition to helping people feel less hungry, Giancoli said that prunes are very nutritious, offering "fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, and the important bone nutrient vitamin K.”

What This Means For You

Snacking on prunes may help you feel more satisfied and less likely to overeat—especially during the holidays. If you don't like prunes, walnuts, chickpeas, and oats also promote satiety and can be part of a weight management eating plan.

Feeling Satisified During the Holidays

There's nothing wrong with having your favorite treats during the holidays as long as you are mindful of enjoying them in moderation.

Making sure that your festive eating plan includes plenty of foods that will help you feel satisfied will help you maintain your weight goals year-round.

Including satisfying snacks in your diet is an appetite control strategy, can help you avoid feeling deprived, can affect moods that are associated with hunger, and can make it easier for you to stick to your eating plan. 

Adding California prunes to your favorite holiday dishes might be one way to support your weight goals, but if you don't like prunes, research has also shown that there are plenty of other ways to create a satisfying diet, including:

  • Following a high-protein diet has been shown to promote satiety and possibly support weight loss.
  • Eating walnuts may activate the brain region that is involved in appetite control, resulting in decreased feelings of hunger.
  • Including pulses like chickpeas in your diet can increase satiety and reduce your overall food intake.
  • Adding oats to your diet can help you feel more satisfied thanks to their fiber content, which slowly digests and helps your feel fuller longer.
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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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