Califonia Bountiful

Make a snack swap

Jan./Feb. 2009 California Country magazine

Some snack choices don't offer much in the way of nutrition. You can phase out unhealthy snacks with the help of this California-grown fruit.

Dried plums offer a convenient, healthy alternative

What can you gain by making some simple snack swaps? Good health! California-grown fruits and vegetables are always excellent choices for snacking. But because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared January as "California Dried Plum Digestive Health Month" (whew!), we'll focus on the fruit formerly known as prunes.

By the way, here's what the governor had to say in his proclamation: "Dried plums are a great source of vital nutrients and contribute to a healthy digestive system. Additionally, dried plums are important to our state's agricultural process. Ninety-nine percent of dried plums from the United States are grown in California, and we produce over half of the world's supply."

There are plenty of ways to enjoy dried plums--in salads, baked goods, pilafs, stews and more. In fact, the California Dried Plum Board's Web site has dozens of delicious recipes.

What about snacking? Dried plums are great to just pop in your mouth when hunger strikes. So see what you can gain by dumping unhealthy snacks. Here are some trade-out tips from Sunsweet Growers, who bring us Ones--the individually wrapped dried plums.

Let the snack swapping begin!


Microwave popcorn
Eating four dried plums instead of three cups of microwave popcorn slashes calories almost in half, saves 14 grams of fat and 350 mg of sodium, and adds more fiber. In addition, your body will enjoy more of these healthful nutrients:

  • Almost five times the amount of potassium (290 mg instead of 60 mg)
  • Double the daily value of copper (6% DV instead of 3%)
  • Four times the daily value of riboflavin (4% DV instead of 1% DV)
  • Six times the daily value of vitamin A (6% DV instead of 1% DV)

Milk chocolate bar
Satisfying your sweet tooth with four dried plums instead of eating a 1.5-ounce milk chocolate bar saves 135 calories and 13 grams of fat. Making this smart swap just 26 times can mean losing a pound of body weight! In addition, you'll be healthier from:

  • Twice as much fiber (3 grams versus 1.5 grams)
  • Almost double the amount of potassium (290 mg versus 164 mg)
  • Four times the daily value of niacin (4% DV instead of 1% DV)
  • Four times the daily value of vitamin B6 (4% DV instead of 1% DV)

Cheese flavored crackers
Instead of snacking on a 1.5-ounce bag of cheesy crackers (28 crackers), help yourself to four dried plums. This sensible switch wipes out 419 mg of sodium and serves up heaping amounts of these nutrients:

  • Three times as much fiber (3 grams instead of 1 gram)
  • More than 4 times the potassium (290 mg instead of just 62 mg)
  • More of your daily value of copper (6% DV instead of 4% DV)
  • Six times the daily value of vitamin A (6% DV instead of 1% DV)

Strawberry licorice twists
Wind your taste buds around four dried plums instead of four pieces of strawberry licorice twists. Doing so means your body gets these 10 vitamins and minerals that are completely missing from strawberry-flavored vines:

  • Three grams of fiber (strawberry twists have none)
  • 2% daily value of calcium (strawberry twists have none)
  • 4% daily value of magnesium (strawberry twists have none)
  • 290 mg potassium or 8% daily value (strawberry twists have none)

Potato chips
There's a reason this snack leaves your fingers greasy. Potato chips pack in 10 grams of fat and also contain 149 mg of sodium per 1-ounce serving. By swapping four dried plums for 10 potato chips, you'll gain:

  • More than double the amount of fiber (3 grams versus 1.2 grams)
  • Six times the daily value of vitamin A (6% DV instead of 0%)
  • Nearly triple the amount of calcium (20 grams versus 7 grams)
  • 55 less calories per serving

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