When summer comes around, so do plums, which are in season from July to October.1 You can eat them on their own or with desserts, or you can consider drying these delicious fruits so you'll have some prunes in stock. Prunes are usually made from dried European plums (Prunus domestica),2 although they can also come from other plum varieties like Prunus americana and Prunus salicina.3
Prunes and prune juice have been linked to multiple health benefits, especially to your digestive system. Continue reading if you're curious about their potential.
What Is Prune Juice?
Prune juice is a sweet beverage made from dried plums. It isn't the same as freshly squeezed or prepared juice, since it's made from dried plums. To dry the plums, they are dehydrated using hot air at a temperature around 85 to 90 degrees Celsius for 18 hours. Once the prunes are ready, they are further processed into prune juice, puree, or other types of prune products.4
According to Mental Floss, dried prunes are juiced by "steaming or simmering them to rehydrate them, running them through a strainer to remove the pits, seeds and skin, and then adding more water to the resulting pruney paste."5
10 Health Benefits of Prune Juice
You can find valuable nutrients in prunes, and some of them may carry over to prune juice, including amino acids, vitamins A and K, B vitamins, dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus and selenium.6
A 2011 Journal of Medicinal Plants Research article highlighted that prunes are linked to anxiolytic and antihyperlipidemic properties.7 Researchers have also concluded that various forms of prunes (fruits, juice, powder or extract) may help:
- Address jaundice and hepatitis — In traditional medicine, prune juice was used to help relieve these health concerns. To make the drink, prunes were soaked overnight in a glass of water, and then consumed the next morning.8
- Lower blood pressure levels — Consumption of prunes or prune juice was associated with decreased blood pressure levels, which may promote cardiovascular health.9
- Decrease atherosclerosis risk — According to results of an animal study, prune powder helped slow down the onset of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque buildup10) in mice.11
- Improve bone health — Animal and cell studies highlighted that prunes and their extracts may aid with bone development12 and help reduce bone resorption.13 The fruits' boron content may also lower osteoporosis risk.14
- Promote antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities — Prunes contain phenolics,15 hydroxycinnamic acids, benzoic acids, coumarins, lignans and flavonoids that may work as reliable antioxidants.16 Another study revealed that prune polyphenols delivered antioxidative and anti-inflammatory abilities when exposed to heavily oxidized cells.17
- Manage weight — In a study conducted by University of Liverpool researchers, subjects lost weight and had slimmer waistlines after they included prunes in their diet.18
- Stimulate satiety and lower glucose levels — Subjects who ate prunes fared better than those who consumed cookies, since they had reduced glucose levels, and possibly, higher concentrations of satiety-promoting hormones.19
- Inhibit obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions — These benefits are connected to prunes' abilities to promote satiety and lessen your food intake.20
- Reduce risk for liver problems — Prunes may help lower the amount of liver enzymes serum alanine transaminase and serum alkaline phosphatase.21 High amounts of these substances may increase your risk of liver inflammation or damage.22
- Exhibit better outcomes against colon cancer risk factors — After rats were fed prune powder, their bodies had fewer amounts of substances that were considered precursors to colon cancer. However, the powder did not lessen the amount of cancer lesions that appeared.23
Is Drinking Prune Juice Ideal for Constipation?
People suffering from mild constipation may use prune juice to their advantage. Findings showed that drinking prune juice caused a mild laxative effect among adults and that it may serve as an alternative to conventional laxatives. The only drawback linked to prune juice consumption is its tendency to cause flatulence or gas.24
A 2014 Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics article also revealed that consuming prunes resulted in better stool frequency and consistency compared to psyllium. However, the study authors noted that prunes may not be effective among people who aren't constipated.25
Prune juice's supposed laxative and constipation-relieving abilities may come from some of the simple sugars found in the fruit, namely sorbitol. The fruits are also home to phenolic compounds (neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids) that can assist in slowing down glucose absorption and eventually promote bowel movements.26
Take note that prunes and prune juice aren't your only choices if you want to ease constipation. My article "Top 6 Tips to Prevent Constipation" showcases other options you should know about to help reduce your risk for this health issue.
Can Babies Drink Prune Juice?
If your baby suffers from constipation, prune juice may be recommended,27 because of its potential to induce mild laxative effects, particularly among children. Before giving your babies or toddlers prune juice for constipation relief, ask your doctor if this is a viable option. Once you're given the go signal, you can give your child modest amounts of prune juice.
How to Make Your Own Prune Juice
Do you want to make your own prune juice instead of buying it from supermarkets? You can try this simple prune juice recipe adapted from the blog Sharmis Passions:28
|✓ 1 1/4 cups water
|✓ 5 prunes
|✓ 2 teaspoons raw honey
|✓ 1 teaspoon lemon juice
|✓ Ice cubes
- Put dried prunes in a bowl and add 1/4 cup water to it. Keep covered and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Place the soaked prunes in a blender, along with 1 cup water. Add honey.
- Blend the mixture until smooth. You can drink it as such or strain it.
- Use a spoon to press the prune bits in the strainer to extract all the juice completely. Add lemon juice.
- Place a few ice cubes in a glass then add the juice. Serve immediately.
Although prunes and fresh prune juice will not cause spikes in blood sugar levels (even though they contain fructose and sorbitol),29 it's still best to drink this beverage in moderation. Limit yourself to 25 grams of fructose daily from all sources. However, if you're insulin- or leptin-resistant, further restrict your fructose intake to 15 grams daily, including fruits and fruit juices.
It's better to make your own fresh prune juice or purchase it from an organic farmer. Some variants of prune juice and other prune products sold in Canada and the U.S.30 contain acrylamide, a substance that may be produced when the drink is exposed to high temperatures during production.31,32
The presence of small amounts of acrylamide can be alarming. Organizations like the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) have already determined that acrylamide may be a possible carcinogen.33
The Nutritional Facts of Prune Juice
A 100-gram serving of 100% prune juice contains 71 calories and 17.45 grams of carbohydrates. While it has a very high potassium content at 276 milligrams, take note of its sugar content at 16.45 grams. You can learn more about prune juice's nutritional values by referring to the table below:34
Prune Juice Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 100 grams, 100% prune juice
|Calories from Fat
|Calcium 12 mg
Be Sure to Enjoy Prune Juice in Moderation
You may think that frequently drinking prune juice will deliver immediate solutions to concerns like constipation, but there's a drawback to consider, too. The amount of sugar in a cup of prune juice can drastically raise your risk for health issues, especially if you drink it frequently. If you truly want to maximize the benefits of prune juice, include it as a component of a nutritious diet loaded with organic whole foods, and make an effort to follow and implement healthy lifestyle changes, too.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Prune Juice
Q: Is prune juice good for your digestive system?
A: Prune juice can be good for your digestive system because the fruits may assist in increasing satiety35 and lessening food consumption. In turn, these effects may help inhibit obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.36
Q: Is it OK to drink prune juice every day?
A: Remember that prune juice contains sugar that may lead to health problems when consumed excessively. If you want to drink prune juice daily, do so in moderate amounts and always take note of your fructose limits.>
Q: Will prune juice cause gas?
A: Yes. Some people may develop gas (flatulence) after drinking prune juice.37
Q: Does prune juice make you poop?
A: Yes. Prune juice is touted for its laxative properties that may help people pass stool more often.38 This may occur because prunes possess sorbitol and phenolic compounds that may lead to increased bowel movements.39