A quick Google search on the health benefits of prunes will yield a list of numerous websites that promise everything from weight loss to anti-aging benefits. Prunes are known for being a natural laxative (i.e. prevents constipation) so a little prunes for breakfast may be beneficial for weight loss. However, too much prune consumption help in weight gain due to the significant amount of calories which come from the sugar. Other benefits in prunes include antioxidants, vitamins, potassium and iron which contribute to maintaining optimal health and may (or may not) reverse the effects of aging.
For us here at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, the care of our orchards along with our vineyard and winery are the means of our livelihood. We begin our harvest of sugar plums today which we deliver to a local drying company. They pick out the choicest fruit. Then, the plums are dried to produce that shriveled black thing you see in the picture above. The sales of our prunes, walnuts, and wines allow us to live Cistercian life with particular emphasis on manual labor as highlighted in the Rule of our Father, Saint Benedict in Chapter 48. But this chapter is as much about work as it is about prayer. Thus, Saint Benedict begins this chapter by stating that "idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading."
Our agricultural work and harvesting crops then obtain a spiritual value as much as an economic value when seen in light of Benedict's rule for monks.
And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monks
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted.
(From the Rule of Saint Benedict ~ Chapter 48)