Prune juice: Can it provide benefits against constipation?

Pleasant Prune Juice
Botanical name: Prunus

Prune Juice

When summer comes around, so do fresh and in-season plums.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 usually refer to dried European plums (Prunus domestica), although they can also come from other plum varieties.2

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 is available at supermarkets, but you can also try finding someone selling organic prune juice.3 Prune juice isn’t the same as newly squeezed or prepared juice, since it’s made from dried plums.

Manufacturers typically utilize the disintegration method to make this drink because it produces higher quantities of better-flavored juice compared to the diffusion method. The disintegration method involves the following steps:4,5

  1. Cooking in water — Washed prunes are immersed in water. This process can take as long as eight hours or as short as 10 minutes if a pressure cooker is used.
  2. Juice separation — This is done using high-speed centrifugation or a hydraulic press that discards the pulp.
  3. Clarification or additional filtration — Clarification involves letting the juice’s solids gather and then separating them from the resulting clear liquid. In other cases, the drink is passed through another filter press or centrifugation method.
  4. Juice concentration — The clear juice is placed in surge tanks and exposed to heat in open vats or under a vacuum so it will be further concentrated.
  5. Additional heating — Concentrated prune juice is heated in a heat exchanger at 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Manufacturers may also add citric acid at this stage to increase the juice’s tartness.
  6. Packaging — Prune juice placed in cans or bottles are either seamed or capped. The packaged juice is cooled, and passed through a tunnel with an air curtain to help dry the container and eliminate water that may be in the product. If the prune juice was canned, it goes through a washer to clean liquid that may be on the outside.

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, manganese and selenium. A 2011 Journal of Medicinal Plants Research article highlighted that prunes are linked to anxiolytic and antihyperlipedemic properties.6 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 helped relieve these concerns. To make the drink, prunes were soaked overnight in a glass of water, and then consumed the next morning.7
  • Lower blood pressure levels — Consumption of prunes or prune juice was associated with decreased blood pressure levels, which may promote cardiovascular health.8
  • Decrease atherosclerosis risk — According to results of an animal study, prune powder helped slow down the onset of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque build-up9) in mice.10
  • Improve bone health — Animal and cell studies highlighted that prunes and their extracts may aid with bone development11 and help reduce bone resorption.12 The fruits’ boron content may also lower osteoporosis risk.13
  • Promote antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities — Prunes contain phenolics,14 hydroxycinnamic acids, benzoic acids, coumarins, lignans and flavonoids that may work as reliable antioxidants.15 Another study revealed that prune polyphenols delivered antioxidative and anti-inflammatory abilities when exposed to heavily oxidized cells.16
  • 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.17
  • 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.18
  • Inhibit obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions — These benefits are connected to prunes’ abilities to promote satiety and lessen your food intake.19
  • Reduce risk for liver problems — Prunes may lower the amount of the liver enzymes serum alanine transaminase and serum alkaline phosphatase.20 High amounts of these substances may increase your risk of liver inflammation or damage.21
  • 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.22

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.23

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.24

Prune juice’s supposed laxative and constipation-relieving abilities may come from some of the nutrients found in the fruit. Prunes contain some amounts of dietary fiber that may induce this effect.25 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. The 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.

If your child doesn’t wish to drink it, you can try other methods such as freezing it to make popsicles or combining it with fresh apple, cranberry or apricot juice.28

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 from “The Juicing Book:”29

Prune Juice Recipe

Ingredients:

15 large, sweet pitted prunes 1 quart of hot water

Procedure:

  1. Soak the prunes in 1 quart of hot water overnight.
  2. The next day, blend the fruits with the water they were soaked in.
  3. Strain the juice and throw away the pulp. You can dilute the finished prune juice with spring water or drink it undiluted.

This recipe makes 16 to 24 oz. of prune juice.

Don’t drink prune juice while eating dishes containing cabbage, onion, watercress or garlic, since it may lead to an upset stomach.30 Additionally, avoid drinking this beverage alongside juices that contain these vegetables as well.31

Although prunes and fresh prune juice will not cause spikes in blood sugar levels (even though they contain fructose and sorbitol),32 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.

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.33 contain acrylamide, a substance that may be produced when the drink is exposed to high temperatures during production.34,35

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.36

The nutritional facts of prune juice

A 1-cup serving of canned prune juice contains 182 calories and 44.67 grams of carbohydrates. While it has a very high potassium content at 707 milligrams, take note of its sugar content at 42.11 grams. You can learn more about prune juice’s nutritional values by referring to the table below:37

 
 
 

Prune Juice Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 256 grams, 1 cup
    Amt. Per
Serving
Calories    
Calories from Fat    
Total Fat    
Saturated Fat   0.008 g
Trans Fat   0 g
Cholesterol   0 g
Sodium    
Total Carbohydrates   44.67 g
Dietary Fiber   2.6g
Sugar   42.11 g
Protein    
Potassium   707 mg
Vitamin A 8 IU Vitamin C 10.5 mg
Calcium 31 mg Iron 3.02 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 this isn’t the case. The 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 satiety38 and lessening food consumption. In turn, these effects may help inhibit obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.39

Q: How much prune juice is ideal for addressing constipation?

A: The amount of prune juice needed to address constipation varies. You can find multiple suggestions, but the book “Smart Medicine for Healthier Living” suggests drinking a combination of 1 cup of spring water, 1/2 cup of prune juice and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. The prune and lemon juice combination may work in alleviating constipation overnight.40

Q: When is the best time to drink prune juice?

A: While you can drink prune juice anytime during the day,41 time your intake properly if you want to induce bowel movements. You can drink prune juice before sleeping if you want to pass stool the following morning, or during breakfast if you want to pass in the evening.42

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: Should you drink prune juice on an empty stomach?

A: Drinking room-temperature prune juice upon waking up and on an empty stomach may assist in promoting bowel movements.43 However, if you don’t feel well after consuming it, stop drinking the juice and speak with your doctor regarding the ideal drinking time.

Q: Will prune juice cause gas?

A: Yes. Some people may develop gas after drinking prune juice.44,45

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.46,47 This may occur because prunes possess dietary fiber48 and phenolic compounds that may lead to increased bowel movements.49



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