9 Amazing Benefits of Prunes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Prunes are often overlooked as a fruit, but they deliver a surprising number of benefits and can be added to your diet in a number of ways.

What are Prunes?

A prune is a dried plum, the most common form of which is scientifically known as Prunus domestica. Prune has a slightly shriveled appearance, as much of the water from the original plum has been removed through various techniques. Plums come in more than 1,000 varieties, but their size, most commonly, lies between a lime and a peach. 

Prunes have a sweet flavor, and are highly fibrous, making it a bit of a task to chew them, but that same fibrous nature is what gives these dried fruits such a healthy profile. Plums and prunes are good for your overall health in some of the same ways, but as with many dried fruits, prunes offer slightly different benefits and have some advantages over their fresh forms. Namely, dried fruits can keep longer than fresh varieties, making them easier to transport and ensuring that food isn’t wasted. Some experts say that prunes have been consumed for more than 10,000 years, making them one of the oldest – and most delicious – traditions of humans.

Close-up of a bowl full of prunes

Prunes are as delicious as they are beneficial for your health. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Plums, dried (prunes), uncooked
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]30.92
Energy [kcal]240
Energy [kJ]1006
Protein [g]2.18
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.38
Ash [g]2.64
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]63.88
Fiber, total dietary [g]7.1
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]38.13
Sucrose [g]0.15
Glucose (dextrose) [g]25.46
Fructose [g]12.45
Maltose [g]0.06
Starch [g]5.11
Calcium, Ca [mg]43
Iron, Fe [mg]0.93
Magnesium, Mg [mg]41
Phosphorus, P [mg]69
Potassium, K [mg]732
Sodium, Na [mg]2
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.44
Copper, Cu [mg]0.28
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.3
Selenium, Se [µg]0.3
Fluoride, F [µg]4
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0.6
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.19
Niacin [mg]1.88
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.42
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.21
Folate, total [µg]4
Folate, food [µg]4
Folate, DFE [µg]4
Choline, total [mg]10.1
Betaine [mg]0.4
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]39
Carotene, beta [µg]394
Carotene, alpha [µg]57
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]93
Vitamin A, IU [IU]781
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]148
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.43
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.02
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.01
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]59.5
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.09
8:0 [g]0.01
10:0 [g]0.01
12:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.03
18:0 [g]0.04
20:0 [g]0
22:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.05
16:1 [g]0.04
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.06
18:2 [g]0.04
18:3 [g]0.02
Tryptophan [g]0.03
Threonine [g]0.05
Isoleucine [g]0.04
Leucine [g]0.07
Lysine [g]0.05
Methionine [g]0.02
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.05
Tyrosine [g]0.02
Valine [g]0.06
Arginine [g]0.04
Histidine [g]0.03
Alanine [g]0.07
Aspartic acid [g]0.8
Glutamic acid [g]0.11
Glycine [g]0.05
Proline [g]0.13
Serine [g]0.06
Sources include : USDA

Nutrition

When it comes to nutrition, these dried fruits are packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbohydrates, and fat. Just a quarter cup of prunes provides more than 12% of your daily fiber needs, as well as 6% of your vitamin K needs each day. This is in addition to good amounts of manganese, potassium, copper, zinc, and calcium, along with beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, important antioxidants that can improve health in various ways.

Benefits

Improve Digestion 

One of the main reasons people eat prunes is to improve their bowel movements. These dried fruits are a good source of dietary fiber and are known to have laxative qualities. Prune juice is a very popular beverage, particularly with older generations, who want to improve their digestive function, eliminate constipation, and reduce inflammation in the gut.

Reduce Blood Pressure

According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Ayub Medical College Abbottabad, there was a significant reduction of blood pressure by a single dose of prunes. Alternatively, with the double dose of prunes, there was a significant reduction only in the systolic BP. 

Anemia

If you are feeling constantly sluggish or tired, you might be experiencing a condition called Anemia. This happens when your body does not have enough red blood cells. You either may have too few red blood cells, or they may be lacking in an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin.

Common types of anemia can be possibly prevented and treated by eating iron-rich foods. Prunes are one of them. Including prunes in your diet, can help prevent anemia so you have more energy and feel healthy.

Promote Eye Health

The compounds found in prunes, namely lutein, and zeaxanthin, are powerful antioxidants that can help to prevent the negative impact of free radicals in the body. In the case of these two antioxidants, they can help prevent macular degeneration and reduce the risk of oxidative stress in your eyes, keeping your vision sharp and clear as you age.

Anticancer Potential

A study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer suggests that prunes help lower your risk of colon cancer. It attributes this benefit to the presence of dietary fiber and polyphenolics in them.

Improve Bone Strength

With a diverse range of minerals and other key nutrients the body needs for bone strength and development, these dried fruits are ideal if you want to avoid osteoporosis and other bone-related issues. If your blood doesn’t have enough calcium or other minerals, the body will leach it from your bones, thus weakening them. For this reason, consuming mineral-rich foods like prunes is an excellent choice.

Regulate Cholesterol

Fiber, in prunes, is not only good for digestion, but also for eliminating excess cholesterol from the body. This balancing of cholesterol will lower your chances of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular issues, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Detoxify the Body

Although prunes are dried fruits, they are still composed of roughly 30% water and have certain diuretic qualities, which can help flush the body of unwanted toxins before they can build up and cause harm to your various systems.

Weight Loss

Although a quarter cup of prunes does contain roughly 100 calories, about 5% of your daily intake, these dried fruits are incredibly nutrient-dense and can keep you feeling full, which means you won’t unnecessarily snack between meals or overeat.

Side Effects

  • It causes gas and bloating. Prunes contain sorbitol, a type of sugar that causes bloating and gas. Fiber, also present in prunes, also causes gas and bloating.
  • Prunes cause diarrhea. The insoluble fiber present in prunes can cause or aggravate diarrhea.
  • When there is an extra intake of fiber, it is important to consume more liquids. Failing to do so, leads to constipation. Always remember to drink enough water when adding prunes to your diet.
  • When adding prunes to your diet, make sure to consume them in moderation as it can lead to weight gain.
  • Since prunes contain histamine, it is possible to develop an allergy to them. Should you experience allergic symptoms after consuming prunes or prunes juice, immediately consult a doctor.

Adding Prunes to Your Diet

These dried fruits are generally consumed by themselves as a quick, sweet snack, but as mentioned, many people enjoy blending the fruit into a thick juice as well. Prunes can be mixed into various desserts and baked goods, but fresh plums are typically preferred for this purpose.

Word of Caution: Eating an excessive amount of prunes can have negative side effects, including diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset. Allergies to prunes are quite rare, but if you’ve never eaten a plum or a prune before, pay close attention to your body’s response once you add them to your diet.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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