What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “prunes?” We do not pretend to be mind readers, but it’s probably related to using the bathroom. Americans know that eating prunes can help with bowel movements.
But did you know prunes have other benefits as well? That’s what we’ll get into in this article, including what recent studies have to say about the effects of prunes on bone health and other benefits. Let’s start with a review of what we know so far.
What Makes Prunes So Healthy?
Our common knowledge about prunes is actually backed by science. Many studies have confirmed that eating prunes can help with constipation. A 2014 review on the available studies of prunes and gastrointestinal function concluded that eating prunes boosts bowel movement frequency and stool consistency such that defecating is less eventful. It further argued that prunes are superior to psyllium, which is also commonly used to treat constipation.
The GI benefits of prunes have to do with the high fiber content in both the fresh and dried varieties. And as you know, dietary fiber encourages more bowel movement. One serving of 100 grams of prunes, approximately 10 in quantity, contains 7 grams of fiber. This is almost a third of the recommended daily intake (RDI) as suggested by the USDA Dietary Guidelines. The RDI of fiber is 22 to 28g for women and 28 to 34g for men.
Additional Benefits of Eating Prunes
We often think of prunes as a natural source of fiber. However, over and above prunes’ ability to help us overcome constipation, emerging evidence shows they also promote bone health. A paper in Osteoporosis International showed that eating five or six prunes daily can help reduce bone loss.
Postmenopausal women will be relieved to learn that eating prunes regularly can make them less prone to bone density issues. A 2016 study on postmenopausal women with osteopenia showed that eating six prunes daily for six months is enough to preserve bone density. Participants who ate that number of prunes had identical bone density loss as those eating 10 to 12 prunes a day.
The study also shows that 50 grams of dried plums are as effective as 100 grams of fresh prunes when it comes to preventing bone loss in women with osteopenia. The researchers believe that this is due to the ability of dried plums to inhibit bone resorption.
Emerging data suggests that this amount of prunes can also help lower the risk of heart disease and inflammation. When you look at all of these benefits as a whole, it should be clear that adding prunes to your daily diet can make you healthier.
Healthy Gut, Bones, and Heart
Prunes are well-known as a fruit that can help keep our bathroom habits regular. But recent studies have revealed benefits like preventing bone loss in women who are past menopause and promoting heart health.
All in all, there’s scant reason to not add a few prunes to your daily diet. We certainly will!