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We regularly publish some great healthy living tips, new recipes and other Prune tidbits on our blog

The Benefits of Exercise and Bone Strength

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 06, 2016

Osteoporosis is a global issue, affecting up to one in three women and one in five men. Genetic factors have a role to play in determining an individual’s likelihood of developing osteoporosis but lifestyle factors also have an influence. Simple steps can be taken – like a routine of weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise - to help improve bone-health.


But how prevalent is osteoporosis?

The condition causes bones to weaken so that they break more easily. According to the IOF, up to one in three women and one in five men (aged 50+) will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. These fractures can prove painful, cause long-term disability or even be life-threatening.

Can anything be done, to help prevent osteoporosis?

Although genetic factors do have a role to play in determining an individual’s likelihood of developing osteoporosis, lifestyle factors can also have an influence. And fortunately there are some simple steps that can be taken, to improve bone-health no matter what your gender, life-stage or bone-health status. These steps include:

  • A routine of weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise
  • A balanced diet, rich in nutrients like calcium, protein and vitamin D
  • Cutting out the cigarettes and limiting alcohol consumption

The role of exercise

Building and maintaining bone health is essential for both genders and at all life-stages. And exercise really is an excellent starting point, to build and maintain bone and muscle strength. Adults who get insufficient exercise lose bone density more quickly than their fit-as-a-fiddle counterparts. And sedentary older people are far more likely to suffer fractures. According to the IOF, this is because bones respond and strengthen when they are 'stressed' and the best way to achieve this? By getting plenty of weight bearing exercise.

What is weight-bearing exercise?

Weight-bearing exercise – the kind that’s good for your bones – is any form of exercise that requires you to work against gravity. Swimming and cycling, for example, would not be weight-bearing but good examples of weight-bearing activities include:

  • Weight training
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Tennis
  • Dancing

So, what are you waiting for? Your bones - not to mention the rest of your body - will thank you for a good-old workout.

And why are Sunsweet involved with the campaign?

Plenty of fruit and veg, as part of a nutritious diet, simple things that are bound to have a positive impact on overall health. And bone health is no exception. Did you know that prunes can be an ally when it comes to bone health management? Research suggests that the nutrients in them – things like vitamin K and manganese – can help to maintain normal bones. Yet more reasons to stock up on these tiny – and scrummy – nutritional power-houses!

More info:

If you’d like to find out more about bone health, please do take a look at the Prunes and Bone Health section of our website. Or visit our dedicated Bone Health library where you can download informative and yet simple-to-read whitepapers including the following:

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Positive steps towards maintaining a healthy weight

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, August 18, 2016

If you believe the headlines, obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Our kids are fatter than ever. Adult health is being negatively affected by expanding waistlines with the results being a greater propensity for cancer, heart disease, diabetes. It’s enough to make you reach for a chocolate bar. But hold that thought! It’s never too late to do something positive about weight management.

Comfort Eating

The links between stress, comfort eating on high-fat, sugar-laden foodstuffs and subsequent weight gain cannot be ignored. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, a quarter of Americans rate their stress level – on a ten-point scale - as 8+. And stress certainly seems to have an adverse impact on our food preferences. When the going gets tough, we reach for the buns! And, when we’re stressed, we also sleep less, exercise less and drink more alcohol. None of which are great for the waistline.

Researchers at Harvard University offer a trio of common-sense tips for countering stress:

  • Meditation: The practice will help you to become more mindful of your moods and better able to make healthy food choices.
  • Exercise: Activities like yoga and tai chi combine exercise and meditation – a win-win!
  • Social support: A listening ear, when you need to offload, from a supportive member of your network of contacts – choose that ear wisely, it could be a friend, a family member or colleague – can also help to alleviate the symptoms of stress.

Removing Temptation

A sensible step when it comes to weight management is – wherever possible - removing temptation. Having your favourite comfort foods on tap is just asking for trouble. Stock up on fresh fruit and veg. Replace biscuits and crisps with dried fruit and nuts. Swap fizzy drinks for juices with no-added sugar. A few simple switches could make a world of difference.

How can Prunes Help with Weight Loss?

Prunes are sweet, really tasty and versatile – whether eaten straight from the pack or as a flavourful addition to a favourite recipe. But you might be surprised to read that, according to research by the University of Liverpool, eating prunes can actively help to boost weight loss.

The University’s study of 100 people (men and women) tested whether, over a 3-month period, eating the fruit - as part of a weight loss diet - helped or hindered weight control. The results were interesting, discovering that the prune eaters experienced greater weight loss than the control group during the last four weeks of the study and - after week eight – experienced greater satiety. They felt fuller. Dr Jo Harrold, who led the research, said: "Prunes may be beneficial to dieters by tackling hunger and satisfying appetite; a major challenge when you are trying to maintain weight loss."

Be Prepared!

With a well-stocked fruit bowl, a selection of dried fruits and some natural juices to hand, a healthy snack is never too far away. Smoothies are sweet and satisfying and can be whizzed up in seconds. And a handful of prunes – enjoyed on their own – couldn’t be more convenient. You can check out our recipe pages too, for lots of healthy inspiration!

PS: Did you know that prunes can be included in a wide range of special diets? Whether you are gluten intolerant, diabetic, a vegan or a vegetarian, you can find out more about the health benefits of prunes, here on our FAQ pages

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

BBQ like a pro - hints, tips and the ultimate Spicy Prune BBQ Sauce recipe.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer is the perfect time for relaxed informal get-togethers’ with family and friends to enjoy each other's company and share some food. And the entertaining highlight of many a long and lazy summer's day? The good old BBQ grill! Read on for hints and tips and how to wow them all with the ultimate Spicy Prune BBQ Sauce recipe. 

King of the Grill!

What is it about this time of the year that sees so many men take up position as King of the Grill? Is it a throwback to the ancient days of the hunter-gatherer? Is it the ritual of lighting the fire, the thrill of an ever-so-slight risk of danger? The joy of being outdoors? Of hanging out with the rest of the menfolk? Of showcasing culinary prowess away from the limitations of the kitchen… and the obligations of the washing-up? Perhaps it’s destined to remain one of life’s unsolved little mysteries!

Whoever ends up doing the cooking, there’s so much more to BBQ food than processed burgers and well-sizzled sausages. This year, why not wow your friends and family with BBQ fare that’s tasty, easy-to-prepare and super-nutritious, too?

Keeping things healthy

BBQing is such a wonderful way to combine two of life's great pleasures: enjoying the great outdoors and eating good food with family and friends. And, with just a little bit of forward planning, healthy lifestyle choices and eating habits don't have to fall by the wayside the moment the grill is fired-up.

Choose:

  • Leaner cuts of meat – chicken, steak, chops.
  • Fish – salmon, monkfish, prawns, tuna, even a whole stuffed fish like mackerel.
  • Colourful veggie kebabs – peppers, red and white onions, mushrooms, courgette, cherry tomatoes, tofu.
  • Baked spuds – as long as you go easy on the butter! – are super-filling and low in fat.

Ditch the white bread-rolls and serve an appetising selection of fresh salads, instead. Chopped fresh and dried fruits, nuts and seeds are a great way to add texture and crunch. And when it comes to dressings, choose fruity chutneys and relishes rather than relying on those calorie-laden sour-cream and mayo options.

Our easy to prepare Spicy Prune Barbeque Sauce is the perfect accompaniment to meat, fish and veggie grills.

Ingredients

Ingredients for approx. 625 ml:
Prep time: approx. 30 min


150g Sunsweet prunes 
1 Onion (diced)
2 Garlic cloves (chopped)
1 tbsp. Oil
2 tbsp. Tomato paste
500 ml Ketchup
3 tbsp. Whiskey
5 tbsp. Worcester sauce
2 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. Brown sugar
1 tsp. Salt
½ - 1 tsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Smoked paprika powder
Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut the prunes into small pieces. Heat oil in a pan and fry onion on medium heat until glassy.
  2. Add garlic, prunes and tomato paste and sautée lightly. Add Ketchup, Whiskey, Worcester sauce and Apple Cider Vinegar. Stir in sugar, salt, chili powder, smoked paprika and pepper.
  3. Bring sauce to a boil and let simmer for 15 min, stir occasionally. Pour into clean jars and seal when cooled. The sauce can be stored for 4 weeks.

*Sunsweet tips:Did you know that prune juice can be used to tenderise meat? The fruity flavour complements both poultry and red meats. Soak kebab skewers in water first, to stop them from spontaneously combusting.

Looking for desert and finger food recipe ideas? Check out our Free 16 page Recipe Booklet.

Keeping upset tums at bay

The very best BBQs are remembered for all the right reasons, so don’t let the fun and frivolity get in the way of food safety. According to the UK government's food safety agency, cases of food poisoning practically double during the summer months. And the main reasons for this rise are undercooked meat and bacterial cross-contamination amongst foodstuffs. Yeugh! So, this year, please make sure that you check out safefood.eu for some timely hints and tips on keeping things safe.

Have fun and eat (and stay) healthy!

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

A side order of body confidence – just in time for summer!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, May 05, 2016

Poor body image; it can be a barrier to both happiness and health, so why not play to your strengths and bag yourself a whole load of body confidence .... just in time for summer. And we'll let you into a little secret: it's as much about your mind as it is about your body!

Embracing diversity – even in the toy world

After decades of criticism about promoting a body shape that is, without drastic surgery, unattainable to most, Mattel have finally given into pressure and released a range of Barbie dolls that more accurately represent the bodies of real women. The new range includes different body types - tall, curvy and petite – and a broader mix of skin tones, hair colours and textures. The changes are long overdue. An opinion piece in Time magazine commented that there have been times when the lack of body diversity in the Barbie range has seemed, at best, outdated and, at worst, downright offensive. And how people feel about their bodies matters.

Body image matters

The way that we feel about the size and shape and overall appearance of our bodies can have an impact, either positively or negatively, on our overall confidence levels. Low confidence, about any aspect of ourselves, can affect our self-esteem making it more difficult for us to try new things. Even if those new things could ultimately end up with us feeling better about our bodies! Things like trying out a selection of healthy, new recipes or giving a fun, high energy exercise class a go.

So poor body image can be a barrier to both happiness and health but, conversely, a report from gov.uk found that having a positive body image is associated with:

  • Making healthy choices, eating and exercising well
  • Treating your body with respect
  • Being self-protective, e.g: avoiding websites/ magazines that promote idealised beauty

But how exactly can that be achieved?

The positive psychology movement

Martin Seligman is a mover and shaker in the field of positive psychology. He has an impressive body of work that focuses on the promotion of good mental health to live a life that is as meaningful as possible. By focusing on our personal strengths, according to Seligman, we can help to boost our esteem thus making it easier for us to make healthy lifestyle choices – including trying those all-important new things! He suggests thinking about what makes you feel excited, what makes you feel invigorated rather than exhausted, what makes you feel joyful and enthusiastic and focusing on those.

Playing to your strengths

So, with summer just around the corner, here are our top three tips for getting yourself a whole load of body confidence. And guess what? It's as much about your mind as it is about your body!

  1. Ignore, if at all possible, societal pressure about body conformity: without personal stylists, flattering lighting and heavy-handed airbrushing, even the cover girls wouldn't look like cover girls!
  2. Embrace your uniqueness, celebrate it, aim to be you at your very best and remember that if you feel good, you'll exude confidence and there's nothing more attractive than that!
  3. Eat well so that you're bursting with energy and, that way, you'll feel more inclined to exercise. And do you know what? You'll glow!

Good luck!

PS: Don't forget to check out our fab healthy recipe collection. And be inspired to try something new.

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

A Beginner's Guide to...Breakfast

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 21, 2016

Skipping breakfast. It's the obvious way to cut back on calories, isn't it? Well, think again. Skipping a meal can lead to less energy, reduced levels of physical activity and – ultimately – weight gain. Read on and let our Beginner's Guide to Breakfast help you – and your family - to get every day off to a Sunsweet start!

Breakfast – what's the big deal?

America's National Weight Control Registry investigates weight loss programmes on a statistically significant scale. And registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick observed, from the Registry's findings, that “more than 70 percent of people who have lost weight and kept it off include eating breakfast among their daily habits”. Evidence published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate breakfast, in a clinical trial, used more energy through physical activity than those who skipped the meal.

But can skipping meals be a way to aid weight loss?

Skipping meals, any meal, is not a good idea because it can result in tiredness - making you less likely to have the energy for physical activity, feeling over-hungry and make you more likely to choose unhealthy snacks to fill up on. If we're honest with ourselves, we innately know that to maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the number of calories you consume through food, with the number of calories you burn off through exercise. It's pretty straightforward, really!

Prunes; a welcome boost towards your five-a-day

Our diet has an enormous impact on both our physical and our emotional wellbeing and a common-sense attitude towards healthy eating is crucial. Breakfast is an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a few extra portions of fruit and veg and this can give the boost towards five-a-day that many of us so desperately need!

Sweet and super-tasty, prunes are high in fibre, virtually fat-free, contain only naturally occurring sugars and are an excellent source of many nutrients making a valuable contribution towards a healthy, balanced diet. When time is short and you have no real choice but to eat your breakfast on the run, prunes – enjoyed straight from the pack – offer a convenient, and yet healthy, option. And, when time is on your side, prunes can really come into their own at breakfast-time.

Wow the family at breakfast-time – with prunes!

  • A handful of prunes – roughly chopped – make a deliciously fruity addition to your family's favourite breakfast cereals. They'll help to up your nutrient quota, early doors, and be a great start towards your five-a-day goal.
  • Pureeing the fruit and spreading it on warm toast makes for a simple, satisfying and super-tasty start to the day.
  • Whizzed together with your choice from a selection of fresh fruits, yogurts, juices and dairy or non-dairy milks, prunes can bring a wonderful depth of flavour to smoothies.

You can find more delicious Breakfast recipe inspiration by searching under the Breakfast category on our recipe page.

Now doesn't that sound worth leaping out of bed for?

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Exercise: the “miracle” cure. Tips on how to make it work for you!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 17, 2016

They call it the ‘miracle cure’...it’s free, has immediate effect, it’s sociable, fun, suitable for all ages, good weather, bad weather, and, there’s now scientific evidence to prove it can help not only reduce your risk of succumbing to major illness but also help you lead a healthier and ever happier life. It's...exercise! Did that come as something of a surprise?

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” so says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

The many benefits of regular exercise

And it's true that the positive arguments for regular exercise certainly cannot be overstated. People who exercise typically experience health benefits in the following areas, amongst many others, meaning that they can enjoy a healthier and even happier life:

  • Digestive health
  • Coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis, hip fracture and falls (in older adults)
  • Depression
  • Dementia

*Source: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/whybeactive.aspx

How much should we be getting?

Although daily activity is important, adults should generally be aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise over the course of a typical week. Over the winter though, when the days are short, the weather is lousy and – at Christmas, in particular – the demands on our time are dizzying, it can be all too easy to let healthy habits slide. But spring is the perfect time for a fresh start, to overhaul routines for healthy living, to shake off that sense of winter sluggishness – both mental and physical - and to step towards the summer with confidence, positivity and bags of energy. So what are you waiting for?

5 tips to get you moving!

  1. Choose something that you really enjoy whether that's running or cycling or bopping around the house like a teenager!
  2. Team up with similarly enthusiastic people, you'll up the fun quotient and be much more likely to stick to the arrangements that you've made.
  3. Multi-task. We're all busy, these days, so bundling activities together might help to boost your motivation. Spend time with the kids, exercise the dog and get yourself hot and sweaty by organising a high-intensity kick-about in the park. Roll up your sleeves, pump up the stereo and spring clean the house. You get the idea!
  4. Make moving your body an integral part of your day-to-day life. If you need to make an extra special effort, you might find that you start to make excuses or that exercise slips off your priority list.
  5. And finally... Try not to make excuses. Yes, our lives are generally more sedentary these days. Yes, we are increasingly tied to our technology. But if you're not going to take responsibility for your own health, then who is?

Fuel that workout!

For a nutrient-packed and perfectly portable pre-workout snack, why not consider the not-so-humble prune? Naturally sweet, prunes have a low GI meaning that they release their energy relatively slowly to satisfy your sweetie-cravings without giving you the short-term energy rush and sugar-crash of so many other snacks. Prunes are scientifically-proven to help with digestion, a great way to help overcome sensations of inner sluggishness. You might be interested in our Digestion 101, too, to discover more about the health boosting properties of prunes.

Have a happy spring!

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Have we forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 03, 2015

This year, why not tune out of what the media – and everybody else - tells you about the perfect, family Christmas? You might just be able to conjure up a Christmas – with much less pressure, that suits your family down to the ground. Also, read our tips on keeping the whole family moving, even when the TV and choccies call!

Have we forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

At Christmas, we can feel under more pressure than ever to be living the perfect life. Perfectly grateful children, patiently taking turns to open their perfectly chosen gifts. A perfect meal - home-cooked from scratch and festooned with everyone's favourite trimmings – being tucked into with gusto from a perfectly decorated table. A perfectly flambeed Christmas pudding... OK, you get the idea. And it's lovely, in theory. But the pressure – for the person who's expected to conjure up this vision of Christmas perfection, often single-handedly – can become too much.

Real Meaning

This Christmas, why not resolve to cut yourself some slack? Think about what Christmas means to you. Ask your family what Christmas means to them. Tailor-make a Christmas that's packed full of meaning for your family. And forget about everything else. There is no gold standard for the perfect Christmas. What's perfect for you, is perfect for you. (And there's a lot to be said for pre-peeled spuds!)

Keeping Active

We all know that physical activity – even if it's the last thing we feel like doing – can make us feel more energetic and generally improve our sense of wellbeing . So, even on the big day, make sure that you give your family plenty of opportunities to get moving.

  • For older kids, turn clearing the table and washing the dishes into a race-against-the-clock.
  • Younger kids can organise each person's present piles – into bags or boxes – so that you can at least see the living room floor or, better still, so that they can be transported to the respective rooms.
  • Even the tiniest of tots can be put in charge of sorting wrapping paper and packaging for recycling.
  • And if tempers and tears seem inevitable – and not just amongst the toddlers! - it's time for some fresh air and a change of scenery. Bundle everybody up. Set off for a brisk stroll around the block. You'll have rosy cheeks – and sweeter moods – in no time.