Staying hydrated is a great way to protect your organs and is also one of the secrets to healthy skin. But drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day can get old fast, so you can switch it up with prune juice.
Prune juice is made from dried prunes, or plums, which contain many nutrients that can contribute to good health. Prunes are a good source of energy, and don’t give rise to a rapid hike in blood sugar levels. This is possibly due to their high amounts of fiber, fructose, and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol with a slow absorption rate. While prune juice does not contain the same amount of beneficial fiber as the whole fruit, it still retains some fiber and many of the vitamins and minerals that the whole fruit provides.
A serving size of six prunes (or 57 grams) that are dried but uncooked have 137 calories and 21.7 grams of sugar. A serving size of prune juice, or one cup, has about 182 calories. Be mindful of the calories in fruit juice, which can add up if you drink it often throughout the day.
Here are the top nine benefits of prunes and prune juice.
Prunes are high in fiber, which helps prevent hemorrhoids brought on by constipation. Chronic constipation is a common problem in older adults and can be caused by pelvic floor dysfunction or the side effects of medication. It can also be a painful problem for infants. Prune juice acts as a laxative thanks to its high sorbitol content, so ask your doctor if it’s right for you.
A serving size of six prunes has 4 grams of dietary fiber, and one-half cup contains 6.2 grams. Women typically need 25 grams of fiber each day, while men need at least 30 grams.
An overactive bladder can be uncomfortable to deal with, but adding fiber to your diet can help. Oftentimes, constipation from lack of fiber can have a negative effect on bladder function and increase the frequency of urination. The Cleveland Clinic recommends taking 2 tablespoons of the following mixture every morning to help you regulate your bowels:
- 3/4 cup prune juice
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
3. Body function
Prunes are a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that assists in a variety of vital bodily functions. This mineral helps with digestion, heart rhythm, nerve impulses, and muscle contractions, as well as blood pressure. Since the body doesn’t naturally produce potassium, consuming prunes or prune juice can help you avoid deficiencies. Just be wary of getting too much!
One half-cup of prunes contains 637 milligrams of potassium. This accounts for nearly 14 percent of your daily recommended need. Most adults should consume about 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.
Anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have sufficient healthy red blood cells, which iron helps to make. Shortness of breath, irritability, and fatigue are all signs of mild anemia. Prune juice is a great source of iron and can help prevent and treat iron deficiency.
One half-cup of prunes contains 0.81 milligrams of iron, while 1/2 cup of prune juice contains 3 milligrams. The average adult needs 10 milligrams a day, while menstruating or nursing women need 15 milligrams, and pregnant women need 30 milligrams.
5. Bones and muscles
According to older studies, dried prunes are an important source of the mineral boron. Boron can help build strong bones and muscles. It may also help with improving mental acuity and muscle coordination.
Prunes may be particularly beneficial to fighting the bone density loss that is a common side effect of radiation. A 2016 animal study has found that dried plums and dried plum powder can reduce radiation’s effect on bone marrow, preventing bone density loss and promoting bone health.
Prunes even have some potential as a treatment for osteoporosis. Another recent study presented evidence that dried plums can prevent bone mass loss in postmenopausal women who are prone to osteoporosis. Only 50 grams (or five to six prunes) a day were necessary to see benefits.
Please remember to ask your doctor if prunes or prune juice are right for you. High-fiber foods and drinks can have an adverse effect on people with certain diseases, such as ulcerative colitis.
Plaque buildup in the arteries causes atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries, which can result in a shortage of oxygen and blood to the tissues of the body. If left untreated, this can lead to heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. Research suggests that dried prunes may help slow the development of atherosclerosis. Scientists have shown that eating prunes and drinking prune juice can significantly reduce blood pressure.
Prunes can also be good for overall heart health. A 2010 study reported that blood pressure and hypertension were reduced in groups that were given prunes daily. This finding suggests that prunes can reduce hypertension and boost cardiovascular health.
Dried plums can help you manage your weight by keeping you feeling full for longer. One study found that eating dried plums as a snack can suppress hunger for longer than a low-fat cookie.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema, is a chronic lung disease that leads to difficulty breathing. There are multiple causes, but smoking is by far the most common direct cause of both.
A 2005 study showed positive correlations between lung health and a diet rich in antioxidants. A more recent study states that plant polyphenols, including antioxidants, may reduce risk of COPD. Prunes contain high levels of antioxidants, which can fight the damage that smoking causes by neutralizing oxidation. This may help to reduce the likelihood of emphysema, COPD, and lung cancer, though no studies have specifically looked at prunes for lung health.
9. Colon cancer
Colon cancer is often hard to detect, but it can be aggressive. Diet can help prevent colon cancer, and research has shown that adding dried plums to your diet may reduce your risk.
A recent study conducted by Texas A&M University and the University of North Carolina determined that eating dried plums can positively affect and increase microbiota (or beneficial bacteria) throughout the colon. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Eating more prunes
Prunes come with a large number of health benefits, and can improve digestion while offering needed nutrients. Some people, however, struggle to incorporate prunes into their diet.
Here are some ways to eat more prunes:
- Eat them alone as a snack.
- Add prunes to your breakfast oatmeal.
- Mix them with nuts, other dried fruits such as apricots, and dark chocolate chips for a healthy trail mix.
- Add them to baked goods.
- Blend them (or use prune juice) for drinks or smoothies.
- Puree prunes and eat them as “prune butter” or jam.
- Add them to a savory stew.
Adding prunes to your diet can be much easier — and more fun — than you’d think. For best results, make sure that you gradually increase your fiber intake and drink enough water. A sudden change in fiber without adequate hydration can be hard on your digestive system.