7 Health Benefits of Plums and Prunes
Plums are extremely nutritious, with a variety of health benefits to offer.
They contain many vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber and antioxidants that may help reduce your risk of several chronic diseases.
You can consume plums fresh or dried. Dried plums, or prunes, are known for improving several health conditions, including constipation and osteoporosis.
This article lists 7 evidence-based health benefits of plums and prunes.
1. They Contain Many Nutrients
Plums and prunes are impressively high in nutrients. They contain over 15 different vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber and antioxidants.
Here is an overview of the nutrition profiles of plums and prunes.
- Calories: 30
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugars: 7 grams
- Vitamin A: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 3% of the RDI
- Copper: 2% of the RDI
- Manganese: 2% of the RDI
Additionally, one plum provides a small amount of B vitamins, phosphorus and magnesium (1).
By weight, prunes are higher in calories than plums. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of prunes contains the following (2):
- Calories: 67
- Carbs: 18 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugars: 11 grams
- Vitamin A: 4% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 21% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 3% of the RDI
- Vitamin B3: 3% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Copper: 4% of the RDI
- Manganese: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 3% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 2% of the RDI
Overall, the vitamin and mineral content of one serving of plums and prunes differs slightly. Prunes contain more vitamin K than plums and are somewhat higher in B vitamins and minerals.
In addition, prunes are higher in calories, fiber and carbs than fresh plums.
Summary: The vitamin and mineral content of plums and prunes differs slightly, but both are packed with nutrients. Additionally, prunes contain more calories, fiber and carbs than fresh plums.
2. Prunes and Prune Juice May Relieve Constipation
Prunes and prune juice are well known for their ability to relieve constipation.
This is partly due to the high amount of fiber in prunes. One prune provides 1 gram of fiber.
The fiber in prunes is mostly insoluble, which means it does not blend with water.
It plays a role in preventing constipation by adding bulk to your stool and may speed up the rate that waste moves through your digestive tract .
Additionally, prunes and prune juice contain sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol with natural laxative effects .
Eating prunes has been shown to be more effective at treating constipation than many other types of laxatives, such as psyllium, which is a type of fiber often used for constipation relief .
In one study, people who consumed 2 ounces (50 grams) of prunes every day for three weeks reported better stool consistency and frequency compared to a group that consumed psyllium .
It is important to keep in mind that eating too many prunes at once may lead to undesirable effects, such as diarrhea. To prevent this from occurring, it is best to stick with a serving of 1/4–1/2 cup (44–87 grams) per day.
If you are using prune juice, make sure it is 100% juice without added sugars. Additionally, limit your portion size to 4–8 ounces (118–237 ml) per day.
Summary: Prunes and prune juice may be effective for relieving constipation due to their content of fiber and sorbitol.
3. Plums and Prunes Are Rich in Antioxidants
Plums and prunes are rich in antioxidants, which are helpful for reducing inflammation and protecting your cells from damage by free radicals.
They are particularly high in polyphenol antioxidants, which have positive effects on bone health and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes .
In fact, some studies have shown that plums contain more than twice the amount of polyphenol antioxidants as other popular fruits, such as nectarines and peaches .
Many lab and animal studies have found the polyphenols in plums and prunes to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, as well as the ability to prevent damage to cells that often leads to disease .
In one test-tube study, the polyphenols in prunes significantly reduced inflammatory markers associated with joint and lung diseases .
Anthocyanins, a specific type of polyphenol, appear to be the most active antioxidants found in plums and prunes. They may have powerful health effects, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer .
Yet while all of these findings are promising, more human studies are needed.
Summary: Plums and prunes are high in polyphenol antioxidants, which may reduce inflammation and lower the risk of several chronic diseases.
4. They May Help Lower Your Blood Sugar
Plums have properties that may help with blood sugar control.
Despite being fairly high in carbs, plums and prunes do not appear to cause a substantial rise in blood sugar levels after they’re eaten .
This is attributed to their potential to increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone that plays a role in blood sugar regulation .
Additionally, the fiber in plums may be partly responsible for their effects on blood sugar. Fiber slows the rate at which your body absorbs carbs after a meal, causing blood sugar to rise gradually, rather than spike.
What’s more, consuming fruits like plums and prunes is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes .
However, make sure to keep your portion sizes in check, since prunes are high in calories and easy to overeat. A reasonable portion size is 1/4–1/2 cup (44–87 grams).
Summary: Plums and prunes are a good source of fiber and have been shown to reduce adiponectin levels. Both characteristics may benefit blood sugar control.
5. Prunes May Promote Bone Health
Prunes may be beneficial for improving bone health.
Some studies have linked prune consumption with a reduced risk of debilitating bone conditions such as osteoporosis and osteopenia, which are characterized by low bone density .
Not only have prunes been shown to prevent bone loss, they may also have the potential to reverse bone loss that has already occurred .
It’s still unclear why prunes appear to have these positive effects on bone health. However, their content of antioxidants and ability to reduce inflammation are thought to play a role .
Additionally, research suggests that consuming prunes may increase levels of certain hormones that are involved in bone formation .
Prunes also contain several vitamins and minerals that have bone-protective effects, including vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium .
While all these findings are positive, most of the evidence regarding prunes and bone health is based on results from animal and test-tube studies.
However, the minimal amount of human research conducted on prune intake and bone health has produced promising results. Compared to other fruits, prunes appear to be the most effective at preventing and reversing bone loss .
Summary: Prunes have several properties that may benefit bone health by preventing or reversing bone loss, which may reduce the risk of conditions like osteoporosis.
6. Plums and Prunes May Benefit Heart Health
Consuming plums and prunes on a regular basis may have a protective effect on heart health.
They have been studied for their potential to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are major risk factors for heart disease.
In one study, subjects who drank prune juice and ate three or six prunes each morning for eight weeks were compared to a group that drank only a glass of water on an empty stomach.
Those who consumed the prunes and prune juice had significantly lower blood pressure levels, total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol than the group that drank water .
Another study found that men who had been diagnosed with high cholesterol had lower LDL cholesterol levels after consuming 12 prunes daily for eight weeks .
Several animal studies have produced similar results.
Generally, mice fed dried plum powder and plum juice appear to have lower cholesterol levels and increased “good” HDL cholesterol. However, these results cannot be generalized to humans .
The positive effects plums and prunes appear to have on heart disease risk factors are likely due to their high content of fiber, potassium and antioxidants .
While the results of these studies are promising, keep in mind that more human research is needed to support the heart-protective effects of plums and prunes.
Summary: Plums and prunes may promote heart health due to their potential role in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
7. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Plums and prunes are convenient and easy to incorporate into your diet.
You can eat them on their own, or enjoy them in smoothies and salads, such as in the following recipes:
- Spinach, Basil and Plum Salad
- Cinnamon Plum Smoothie
- Pasta Salad with Roasted Chicken and Plum
- Plum Avocado Summer Salad
- Prune, Orange, Fennel and Onion Salad
Prunes can also be consumed as juice and are commonly stewed, which is the process of combining them with water and then simmering, as in this recipe.
Summary: Plums and prunes are simple to add to your diet. They can be prepared in several different ways and taste great in many types of recipes.
The Bottom Line
Plums are a very nutritious fruit. Both plums and prunes are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
Additionally, they have several characteristics that may reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Furthermore, they taste delicious and require little preparation, so they are easy to incorporate into your diet.