They may not look particularly exciting, but prunes are a concentrated source of fibre and nutrients. We asked a nutritionist to explain whether prunes are really good for you – and whether they can actually help ease digestive problems.
What are prunes?
Prunes are dried plums. You can find them semi-dried in packets or tinned in juice or syrup.
Nutritional profile of prunes
Prunes are fat-free and, as they are a fruit, they are mainly a carbohydrate containing 12g per 30g portion (of which 10g is sugar). They contain almost 1g of protein per serving, but they are high in fibre with 1.7g per 30g serving.
Because of their high fibre content, prunes don’t cause a large spike in blood sugar as the fibre helps to slow down the release of sugar from the fruit.
A 30g serving of prunes contains 51 calories, and they are also a good source of potassium, a mineral needed to ensure our heart muscle works properly; iron which helps to make red blood cells and transport oxygen around the body; and vitamin A, needed to support the normal function of the immune system (as well as being helpful for keeping our skin and eyes healthy).
Be aware that prunes packaged in juice or syrup may be higher in added sugar or salt.
How many prunes count as one of your 5-a-day?
A 30g portion, or three prunes, counts as one serving.
Check out our printable infographic to find out what else counts towards your 5-a-day.
Do prunes help with constipation?
If you are experiencing constipation it’s worth visiting your GP to ensure that there are no underlying reasons. However, there is some evidence that prunes may help relieve constipation due to their high fibre content, and may in fact be better than other natural foods such as psyllium husks.
A recent study used eight dried prunes (80g) with 300ml of water a day for four weeks and saw improvements in bowel function. However, as everyone’s bodies are different, prunes may not work for everyone. If you have constipation, it would be advisable to start with three or four prunes each day, with adequate water, and build up slowly to find your tolerance rather than eating too many. Prune juice is unlikely to produce the same effect as the fibre is removed in the juicing process.
Healthy prune recipes
This page was published on 20th November 2018.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.