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Which is better for you plums or prunes?

As a health-conscious person, you may wonder whether plums or prunes are the better choice for a nutritious diet. Both plums and prunes provide an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that offer potential health benefits. But there are some key differences between these two fruits that are worth considering.

What’s the Difference Between Plums and Prunes?

Prunes are actually just a type of plum that has been dried. More specifically, prunes are made from a subspecies of plum known as European plums (Prunus domestica). To make prunes, plums are dehydrated in a process that removes most of the plum’s water content, concentrating the nutrients and sugars.

Dried plums or prunes contain significantly more fiber and antioxidants than fresh plums, since the dehydration process boosts the fruit’s nutrient levels. However, fresh plums contain more vitamin C and sorbitol than prunes. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol with natural laxative effects.

Nutrition Comparison

Let’s look at the nutrition profiles of plums versus prunes.

Nutrient Plums (raw) Prunes (dried)
Calories 46 240
Carbs 11 grams 63 grams
Fiber 1 gram 7 grams
Protein 1 gram 2 grams
Fat 0 grams 0 grams
Vitamin C 9.5 mg (16% DV) 0.6 mg (1% DV)
Vitamin K 6.4 mcg (8% DV) 59 mcg (74% DV)
Potassium 157 mg (4% DV) 732 mg (21% DV)
Copper 0.1 mg (6% DV) 0.3 mg (15% DV)

As you can see, prunes contain significantly more fiber, vitamin K, potassium and copper compared to fresh plums. However, plums contain more vitamin C and sorbitol.

Potential Health Benefits

Both plums and prunes offer an array of potential health benefits:

May Promote Regularity

Prunes are widely known for their mild laxative effects. This is partly due to their high sorbitol content. Plums contain approximately 2-3 times more sorbitol than prunes.

Sorbitol is not well absorbed in the small intestine so it draws water into the colon, acting as a natural laxative. Prunes also contain more fiber than fresh plums, which adds bulk to stool and encourages regularity.

May Support Bone Health

Prunes are an excellent source of vitamin K and copper, providing 74% and 15% of the daily recommended intake in a 1/4 cup (40 grams) serving. Vitamin K improves calcium absorption and bone mineral density. Copper also helps support bone formation.

Therefore, prunes may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, especially when combined with other bone-supporting nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

May Benefit Heart Health

The potassium in prunes helps control blood pressure by balancing fluid levels and relaxing blood vessel walls. Eating potassium-rich foods is associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease.

Plums and prunes also contain cholesterol-lowering plant compounds called phenolic compounds. These antioxidants protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, which contributes to heart disease.

May Slow Mental Decline

Animal and test-tube studies suggest that antioxidants called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid found in plums and prunes may help slow the breakdown of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. This could potentially slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental decline.

However, more human research is needed.

May Lower Diabetes Risk

The fiber in prunes slows the absorption of sugar after a meal and may improve insulin sensitivity. Eating prunes and other high-fiber foods is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

One human study found that eating prunes helped improve blood sugar levels after a high-carb meal compared to a placebo. More studies are needed.

Potential Downsides

While plums and prunes are highly nutritious, there are some downsides:

  • Prunes are high in natural sugar. They should be eaten in moderation, especially if you have diabetes.
  • Due to their high sorbitol content, eating too many plums or prunes can cause gas, bloating or diarrhea.
  • Prunes are sticky and high in carbs, so they may lead to tooth decay if oral hygiene is poor.
  • Prunes are high in oxalate, so people with kidney stones may want to avoid overindulging.

The Bottom Line

Overall, both plums and prunes provide important nutrients and health benefits, but prunes contain higher amounts of certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants due to the dehydration process.

If you are looking for more vitamin C and sorbitol for laxative effects, plums may be a slightly better choice. However, prunes are richer in nutrients like potassium, vitamin K and phenolic compounds.

To maximize the nutritional benefits, enjoy both prunes and plums in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.