4 Amazing Prune Health Benefits You Need to Know About
Plus, how many you should eat a day.
Chewy and sweet, prunes are essentially plums that have been dehydrated for preservation. They can last in your pantry for about six months and provide a ton of versatility in practically any meal. Plus, they are little nutritious powerhouses. “Prunes have many different health benefits, from gastrointestinal health to bone preservation, modulating immune response, diabetes and atherosclerosis and satiety,” says Shirin Hooshmand, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition at San Diego State University.
Although this yummy dried fruit offers up some serious health benefits, make sure to pay attention to ingredient lists and purchase varieties that solely list prunes as the only ingredient (try to avoid options with any added sugars or oils). Here’s everything you need to know about prunes and why they are worthy of a spot in your grocery cart.
Prune Nutrition Stats
Serving Size: 4 Prunes (38g)
- 90 calories
- 0g total fat
- 0g saturated fat
- 0mg cholesterol
- 0mg sodium
- 24g total carbohydrate
- 3g dietary fiber
- 14g total sugars
- 0g added sugars
- 1g protein
- 20mg calcium (2% DV)
- 0.4mg iron (2% DV)
- 280mg potassium (6% DV)
- 23mcg Vitamin K (20% DV)
- 0.1mg riboflavin (8% DV)
- 0.9mg niacin (6% DV)
- 0.1mg Vitamin B6 (6% DV)
- 0.2mg pantothenic acid (4% DV)
- 15mg magnesium (4% DV)
- 0.1mg copper (10% DV)
- 0.1mg manganese (4% DV)
Prune health benefits:
Prune superpowers go far beyond the bathroom! Here are some reasons to start incorporating prunes into your diet:
Can support bone health: Dr. Hooshmand has been conducting research in the area of bone health and prunes for the past 15 years. In a recent clinical trial, Dr. Hooshmand and her team found that osteopenic postmenopausal women who ate 5-6 prunes per day for six months was effective in preventing bone loss. “Previous research also found that eating 10-12 prunes per day for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density and improved indicators of bone turnover in postmenopausal women,” she says. Additionally, Dr. Hooshmand shares that interesting new animal research suggests that prunes may help prevent bone loss in people exposed to radiation, such as astronauts in space.
May promote heart health: A serving of prunes meets 11% of the daily value for fiber, which plays a role in lowering blood cholesterol. Initial research from the University of California, Davis found that men with moderately elevated cholesterol were able to reduce both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol after eating about 12 prunes daily.
Support healthy digestion: The fiber content of prunes may be to thank for their laxative effect, but scientists point to the combination of fiber, phenolic compounds and sorbitol within prunes that are likely what does the trick. Research supports that prunes can significantly increase stool weight and frequency, making them a great natural alternative to promote healthy bowel function.
May have anti-inflammatory properties: Since prunes are rich in polyphenols, these antioxidants can help decrease inflammation and protect against DNA damage. Compared to fresh plums, prunes dried at 60 and 85°C may actually have a higher antioxidant activity.
And what about prune juice?
Unlike other fruit juices, most popular brands of prune juice do actually contain a good source of fiber per serving. Warm prune juice itself has been long used as a natural constipation remedy as well. “In my opinion, probably consuming prune juice could be effective in terms of bone health to some degree, but we only have data from clinical trials testing effects of whole prunes on bone health,” says Dr. Hooshmand.
How many prunes should I eat per day?
Dr. Hooshmand says how many prunes you should eat in a day depends on the size of the prunes themselves, but current research recommends 50 grams of prunes per day which is equal to about 5 to 6 prunes. If you’re not used to eating prunes or other fiber-rich foods, start slow with 1 to 2 prunes per day and gradually work your way up. “For people who have a low intake of fiber in their diet, in general we recommend introducing prunes gradually, avoid consumption of prunes on an empty stomach and spread the intake throughout the day,” says Dr. Hooshmand.
How to add prunes to your diet:
“There are plenty of different ways to enjoy the prune as part of your diet: from smoothies to salads and soups to savory dinner dishes. Prunes can even be used as a sugar and fat substitute in baked goods,” Dr. Hooshmand shares.
Enjoy this yummy dried fruit by itself or try it in a variety of different ways:
Use prunes alongside your favorite variety of nuts in a healthy homemade trail mix
Add chopped prunes as a topping to oatmeal or yogurt
Incorporate prunes in stews or tagine for a sweet savory twist
Add a prune or two to your morning smoothie
Toss chopped prunes into salad alongside your favorite veggies and vinaigrette
Use prunes for natural sweetness and fiber in energy bites
Based in Johannesburg, Brian Derenberger is a Senior Editor at Healthy Organic Lifestyle.