Are prunes very good for you?

Prunes, also known as dried plums, have long been touted as a superfood that offers a variety of potential health benefits. As a dried fruit, prunes are high in nutrients and may promote digestive, bone, and heart health. Here, we’ll explore the nutrition profile of prunes, their health benefits, and some concerns over their high sugar content.

Nutrition Facts

Prunes are made by drying plums, which removes water to create a condensed, nutrient-rich dried fruit. A 1/4 cup (44 grams) of pitted prunes provides (1):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 137
Protein 1.4 g
Carbs 35 g
Fiber 3 g
Sugar 30 g
Fat 0.2 g
Vitamin A 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin C 3% of the DV
Vitamin K 5% of the DV
Potassium 6% of the DV
Copper 6% of the DV
Manganese 15% of the DV

Prunes are high in carbohydrates, primarily natural sugars. They contain very little fat or protein. Prunes are also high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide various health benefits.

Potential Health Benefits

Here are some of the top evidence-based health benefits associated with eating prunes:

May promote digestive health

Prunes are high in insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water and helps add bulk to stool. Eating prunes may help prevent constipation and encourage regularity (2).

In one study, 40 adults with chronic constipation ate either prunes or psyllium fiber supplements daily. The prune group experienced better stool consistency and frequency compared to the psyllium group (3).

Additionally, prunes contain sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol with natural laxative effects that can further improve bowel function (4).

May support bone health

Research shows prunes may help inhibit bone breakdown while promoting new bone formation (5).

One animal study found that feeding rats prunes helped reverse bone loss caused by estrogen deficiency (6).

Another study in postmenopausal women showed that eating around 10 prunes per day for one year increased bone mineral density in the ulna and spine compared to a control group (7).

May promote heart health

Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. Luckily, eating prunes may reduce several heart disease risk factors.

For example, they have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. Prunes’ content of potassium and antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid, likely contributes to their heart-protective effects (8, 9).

Additionally, some research indicates prunes may inhibit hardening of the arteries, lower high blood pressure, and increase circulation (10).

May reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation is involved in a wide range of health conditions. Compared to many fruits, prunes contain higher amounts of antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation in your body (11).

One study found that eating around 10 prunes daily reduced inflammatory markers after only four weeks (12).

May aid blood sugar control

Research suggests prunes may help improve glycemic control, especially after meals. While prunes are high in natural sugar, they have a low glycemic index (GI) of 29 (13).

Foods with a GI below 55 are considered low GI and less likely to spike your blood sugar levels (14).

One study found that eating prunes reduced post-meal blood sugar spikes more than grapefruit, apples, raisins, or bran cereal (15).

May act as a prebiotic

Prunes contain sorbitol and fibers that your body cannot digest. Instead, they are used as food for the good bacteria in your gut (16).

Feeding your gut bacteria is incredibly important for digestive health, immune function, mood, and weight control. For these reasons, prunes may act as a prebiotic (17).

May protect liver health

Animal studies indicate prunes may reduce liver damage caused by a high-fat diet and help reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (18, 19).

This effect is likely due to prunes’ content of polyphenols, which are plant compounds with powerful anti-inflammatory properties in your body.

Concerns Over High Sugar Content

Despite their many health benefits, there are some concerns over prunes’ high sugar content.

A quarter cup (44 grams) of prunes contains 30 grams of sugar. This is comparable to many other dried fruits (20).

While most of the sugar in prunes comes from natural fructose and glucose, dried fruits can stick to your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities (21).

Additionally, eating too many may lead to side effects like gas, bloating, diarrhea, or loose stools.

If you have diabetes or issues controlling your blood sugar, talk to your doctor about a safe portion size.

Overall, prunes can be safely enjoyed as part of a balanced diet in moderation to minimize adverse effects.

How to Add Prunes to Your Diet

Here are some simple ways to incorporate prunes into your diet:

  • Eat as a snack
  • Blend into smoothies
  • Make homemade trail mix
  • Mix into oatmeal or yogurt
  • Make chutney
  • Use in baked goods like muffins, cakes, or bars
  • Substitute for raisins in recipes
  • Puree into a sauce for meat

The Bottom Line

Prunes are a highly nutritious dried fruit that provide a concentrated source of nutrients within a small serving. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that offer an array of health benefits.

Regularly incorporating prunes into a balanced diet may improve digestive health, heart health, bone strength, blood sugar control, and more.

While prunes are high in natural sugar, they can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. To maximize health benefits while minimizing side effects, stick with a serving of 4-5 prunes per day.

Overall, prunes make a great addition to a balanced diet due to their unique nutrient profile and spectacular health benefits.

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