Let’s be honest: Prunes might not seem like the most exciting addition to your diet. In fact, the dried plums have a reputation for being, well, your grandma’s favorite purple fruit. However, perhaps we should take a cue from Granny and the rest of our elders. After all, these shriveled, wrinkled, puckered purple pieces of subjective deliciousness have a plethora of health benefits.
Other than the commonly known positive health benefit of relieving constipation, prunes can also reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, help encourage weight loss, and even prevent some diseases (via Healthline). Of course, as with all foods, moderation is key; too many prunes could have you racing to the toilet, or may even cause you to gain some unwanted extra pounds.
Are you inspired to start adding a handful of these antioxidant-rich fruits to your snack routine? For the majority of people, prunes make great everyday snack — for more than one reason! If you aren’t eating prunes, you should be. However, before you start, here’s a look at what happens to your body when you eat prunes every day.
Eating prunes every day can help aid in digestion
Eating prunes every day should be considered if you’re looking to regulate your digestive system and get things moving and grooving without resorting to medication.
These dried fruits might not look like much, but they are chock full of fiber. In fact, a one-cup serving has a whopping 12.4 grams of fiber, per LiveStrong. As explained by the website, insoluble fiber “binds water inside your intestines,” resulting in “larger, softer stools” that have an easier time moving through your bowels. In other words, prunes help you poop with ease and comfort.
Adding fuel to the cleansing fire, prunes also boast the sugar-based alcohol, sorbitol — an ingredient known to have a laxative effect. New York City dietitian Amy Gorin told Well + Good, “[Sorbitol] helps stimulate digestion by helping to move water into the large intestine.” So, if you’re feeling a bit constipated or more blocked-up than usual, turn to prunes before you head to the drugstore. Chances are you’ll be feeling relieved and back on track in no time.
Eating prunes every day could cause diarrhea
Prunes have plenty of health benefits. However, eating a handful of these dried plums every day could have you running to the bathroom more than you’d probably like.
If you’ve ever tried to naturally relieve an infant’s constipation with a baby food pouch full of pureed prunes, then you know this fruit is effective — perhaps even too effective. When consumed in excess, the sorbitol in prunes — which has a natural laxative effect — can backfire, causing diarrhea and possibly even dehydration, as noted by LiveStrong.
Even if this sugar alcohol ingredient doesn’t result in loose stools, you may still find yourself experiencing other awkward tummy troubles if you chow down on too many prunes. While fiber is good for your digestive tract, it can sometimes lead to gas, bloating, and discomfort (via Mayo Clinic). This is especially true for those people who are not accustomed to eating high fiber foods, per LiveStrong. With that in mind, consider gradually introducing prunes into your daily diet. Pace yourself, and your digestive system will thank you.
You'll get lots of vitamins and antioxidants when you eat a daily serving of prunes
Prunes are chock full of good-for-you, immune system-boosting vitamins and antioxidants that promote all sorts of healthy cellular activity in your body. And, as it turns out, prunes just might be one of the foods that make you beautiful!
Dried plums (which are, of course, prunes) are high in vitamin A — a mineral that helps foster healthy vision, boosts immunity, and promotes the function of your cardiovascular system, lungs, kidneys, and other major organs (via the National Institute of Health). The fruit also offers a significant amount of calcium, potassium, and vitamin K, per VeryWell Fit.
What’s more, prunes are also rich in antioxidants that work fight against cell damage that could cause signs of early aging. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals, subsequently preventing wrinkles and fine lines. So, in other words, eating prunes will help you feel and look your absolute best. Who would have thought that eating a dried, wrinkly fruit could actually be the key to keeping you looking and feeling youthful?
You'll get a hearty dose of potassium when you eat prunes every day
Prunes could be a lifesaver for people who can’t stand the thought of eating a banana every day.
Bananas are a good source of potassium — a mineral your body desperately needs. However, if the thought of eating the yellow fruit to get your daily dose of potassium makes your stomach churn, we have good news: You can still get your daily dose of potassium by eating a handful of dried prunes every day.
Per Medical News Today, a half-cup of prunes has 669 mg of potassium, which certainly puts a significant dent in the daily recommended intake for adults. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, women need 2,600 mg of potassium each day, while men need 3,400 mg.
But what does potassium actually do for your body? On a basic level, the mineral helps your cells to function properly, as noted by Harvard Health Publishing. Specifically, the nutrient “regulates the heartbeat, ensures proper function of the muscles and nerves, and is vital for synthesizing protein and metabolizing carbohydrates.” Those prunes may be small, but they sure pack a mighty (and healthy) punch!
Eating prunes every day may help to prevent anemia
Eating prunes every day should be considered by people who have an iron deficiency, such as anemia. As it turns out, a daily serving of the dried fruit could make all the difference when it comes to having healthy blood!
While small, prunes are loaded with a ton of naturally occurring iron. As explained by the Cleveland Clinic, when digested, iron fuses with protein in your body to make hemoglobin — which transports necessary oxygen to cells throughout your body. Therefore, taking iron supplements and eating iron-rich foods can help to prevent anemia, which is a disease characterized by the blood having an insufficient supply of these healthy red blood cells. According to Mayo Clinic, anemia can cause extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and other unpleasant symptoms.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, snacking on this dried fruit every day won’t only help prevent or reverse anemia — it will also ultimately boost your body’s immunity and improve your overall health. Quick, pass the prunes!
You'll be promoting healthy bones and strong muscles by eating prunes every day
Well, if you don’t, you definitely should. While most people associate drinking milk every day with having strong bones (thanks to some awfully memorable advertisements), prunes actually work to promote strong, healthy bones, as well. In fact, a 2016 study published in Osteoporosis International demonstrated prunes’ potential to stop and even prevent postmenopausal bone mass density loss in women. Furthermore, the research found that eating 50 mg worth of the fruit is most likely as efficacious as eating double that amount — meaning you only have to eat 5 or 6 a day to see an improvement. According to the article, this could be because of “the ability of dried plums to inhibit bone resorption.”
A second study published in 2017 in the journal Nutrients echoed these positive findings. As explained by the founder of NutritionFact.org, Dr. Michael Greger, in U.S. News & World Report, “Prunes help maintain bone-building cells called osteoblasts.” In short, eat prunes now, and have strong bones later in life. That’s certainly something we can get behind.
You could lower your cholesterol by eating prunes every day
Prunes, prunes, they’re good for your heart! The more you eat, the more you — get a good cholesterol reading at your regular check-up?
While that’s not exactly how the humorous old adage goes, it’s true: Eating prunes every day can promote overall heart health by lowering high cholesterol. In fact, a 1991 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men with high cholesterol who consumed 12 prunes a day for eight weeks saw a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol. According to WebMD, LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol, as it builds up in your blood vessels, making you more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.
So, what exactly gives dried plums their naturally heart-protective qualities? You can likely give credit to the polyphenols in your prunes. Polyphenols, which are antioxidant chemical compounds found in the fruit, promote cardiovascular health and help to control cellular aging, according to Nutrients. Plus, as noted by multiple studies cited in Healthline, anthocyanins — a specific type of polyphenol present in prunes — are especially effective at reducing heart disease. Talk about a win-win!
You could help prevent painful hemorrhoids by eating prunes daily
Surprisingly enough, prunes could provide relief from dreaded hemorrhoids.
If you have ever experienced the pain, discomfort, and relentless itching sensation of hemorrhoids, then you know you will do whatever it takes to relieve them — or, better yet, prevent them from occurring in the first place. And while there are a number of topical treatments on the market, prunes could prove to be a natural hemorrhoid cure — or preventative.
Per Healthline, hemorrhoids, otherwise known as piles, are “swollen veins in the anus and lower parts of your rectum.” As noted by Mayo Clinic, they are often the result of straining while passing a stool, sitting for extended amounts of time on the toilet, and recurring episodes of constipation. Since prunes have a natural laxative effect, the fruit can soften your bowel movements and make a “number two” easier to pass. As noted by Healthline, stewed prunes (ones that have been simmered in filtered water) are even more effective, and eating approximately ten in a single day can help relieve this painful piles problem.
You may lower your blood pressure when you eat prunes every day
Prunes might not be the first fruit you reach for when you’re craving a snack. However, if you suffer from high blood pressure, then you should definitely consider adding a daily dose of prunes to your snack-time routine.
In a 2010 clinical trial, 259 pre-hypertensive participants had their blood pressure levels measured. Then, one group was given prune juice and either three or six dried prunes soaked in water for a few hours, while the other group was instructed to drink only water first thing in the morning. The group that was given prunes saw a “significant reduction” in blood pressure in comparison to their water-drinking peers.
Of course, some people with hypertension will still have to turn to medication. However, those with borderline blood pressure issues could try changing their diet before resorting to a prescription. “Basically, to lower your blood pressure, you [need to] eat more natural — so foods that aren’t processed in a box, a bag, or a can,” dietitian Julia Zumpano explained in an article on Cleveland Clinic’s website.
Eating prunes daily may help you lose weight
Eating prunes every day could be the key to shedding unwanted pounds.
A 2010 study in Appetite observed how various snack items satiate hunger and affect glucose and hormone response. In the study, 19 female participants ate snacks with the exact same amount of calories — ranging from white bread, to low-fat treats, to prunes — all on different days, with the most significant nutritional variations being sugar and fiber content. After eating each snack on its respective day, the women rated how they felt in terms of satisfaction every 15 minutes for two hours. The result? The women all reported feeling more satisfied after eating prunes.
To put it simply, prunes are a stay-slim snack that will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Still, it’s important to remember that moderation is key. Eaten in excess, prunes could make you pack on those pesky, unwanted pounds. As noted by Healthline, a handful of six prunes has 137 calories and 21.7 grams of sugar — so be sure to exercise portion control while snacking away on prunes, or while using them to make your cereal more filling.
Eating prunes every day may help you protect your lungs
Prunes pack a powerful punch — and those who eat them every day may even get some degree of prune-protection from certain lung illnesses.
A 2005 study published in European Respiratory Review demonstrated that a diet rich in polyphenols, the antioxidants found in prunes, may decrease one’s risk of developing COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This may be because the good-for-you chemical compounds found in prunes work to neutralize oxidation, and subsequently can potentially stop (or even help to heal) damage caused by smoking or other environmental factors.
Of course, that’s not to say that smokers can counteract their unhealthy habit with prunes. Nevertheless, while more extensive research is certainly needed, there is early evidence that prunes — as well as other foods high in antioxidants — can possibly offer the lungs some level of protection from life-threatening diseases like emphysema or lung cancer. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
You may reduce your risk of colon cancer when you eat prunes daily
According to researchers, eating prunes every day may actually help to boost microbiota (also known as gut bacteria) in the colon, subsequently decreasing one’s likelihood of developing colon cancer.
Researcher Dr. Nancy Turner, a professor at Texas A&M University, said in an article on the institution’s website that her team’s research was “able to show that dried plums promote retention of beneficial bacteria throughout the colon, and by doing so they may reduce the risk of colon cancer.” In the initial experiment, which was performed on rats, the scientists discovered a correlation between prune consumption and a decrease in the occurrence of “precancerous lesions.”
This is a very promising revelation; however, longtime, heavy prune eaters should also be aware that there are some small-but-notable risks associated with consuming the fruit in excess. As noted by LiveStrong, the process of drying plums creates the chemical carcinogen, acrylamide — which means your midday prune snack contains some amount of the chemical. That said, eating prunes in moderation shouldn’t cause your body any harm.
Your bladder might be irritated by your daily prune intake
Prunes can have plenty of positive effects on your body. However, if you have frequent bladder issues, you might want to start evaluating your diet and eliminate some potentially irritating foods. And unfortunately for prune lovers, these dried plums are one of the bladder-upsetting suspects (via Cleveland Clinic).
Like most things, prunes don’t affect everyone the same way. That said, however, some people may find that this tasty fruit treat irritates the bladder. On the flip side, prunes might help lessen a major side effect of having an overactive bladder. As indicated by Healthline, constipation is one of the most annoying parts of having an overactive bladder for many people — and increasing your fiber intake can help to prevent that stopped-up, uncomfortable feeling.
According to Healthline, Cleveland Clinic suggests consuming two tablespoons of the following concoction every day: 3/4 cup of prune juice, 1 cup of applesauce, and a whole cup of unprocessed wheat bran. However, if you suspect the fruit is messing with your bladder, it’s important to talk with your doctor about alternative ways to control your overactive bladder and prevent constipation.
You might become dependent on prunes' laxative effect if you eat them daily
Prunes are not exactly considered an addictive snack item. Sure, they’re flavorful and good for you; however, unlike Cool Ranch Doritos, you could likely live without the dried fruit and be perfectly content, right?
While prunes are definitely delicious to many people, most folks aren’t chowing down on the dried fruit because they love the taste and wrinkly texture of dried plums. That said, while the majority of people aren’t addicted to snacking on prunes, some people actually become dependent on prunes for the laxative effects they have.
While eating dried plums to help with the occasional bout of constipation is perfectly fine, relying on them as a diuretic is definitely not advisable. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (via LiveStrong), developing a dependency on foods with laxative-like effects can result in “electrolyte and mineral imbalances,” and could possibly even cause damage to your colon’s nerves and muscles. Too much of a good thing is usually counterproductive, and it appears this is certainly the case for prunes.
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