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Key Takeaways

  • Prunes, or dried plums, are rich in fiber and more nutrient-dense than fresh plums.
  • Eating about five to 10 prunes a day may support heart health.
  • Research on prunes is limited and the sample size is often small.

Prunes, or dried plums, are a fiber-rich fruit that helps with bowel movement. But some emerging research suggests prunes might offer more than constipation relief.

Eating prunes every day can improve cholesterol levels while reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, according to two new studies presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s flagship conference in July.

The heart health benefits of long-term prune consumption were seen in men. In older women, eating prunes regularly had no negative effect on metabolic measures, such as total cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels.

“The conclusion here really is that prunes can support cardiovascular health. But we’re just at the tip of the iceberg learning about this, so we have to dig a little deeper into these results and potentially replicate them,” Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition advisor to the California Prune Board, told Verywell.

Another study published in 2021 found that eating 50–100 grams of prunes (about five to 10 pieces) every day was associated with reduced heart disease risks.

The reductions in cholesterol and a marker of inflammation were likely because of improvements in antioxidant levels, according to Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, RD, a professor of exercise and nutritional sciences at San Diego State University and a co-author of the study.

This study, along with the two presented in July, were all partially funded by the California Prune Board.

Are Prunes Better Than Fresh Plums?

Although studies have suggested that prunes—or dried plums—can support heart health, that doesn’t necessarily mean fresh plums or prune juice offer the same benefits.

There haven’t been that many studies on the benefits of fresh plums or prune juice, Hooshmand explained. “It’s possible that at some levels they would have similar benefits. Research is needed to better understand that,” she said.

Drying fresh plums in hot air improves the nutritional properties and shelf life of the fruit, so that might be a reason to pick the dried version over the fresh fruit.

“You might have to eat more plums to receive the same benefit, but the fundamental composition is going to be similar,” Maya Vadiveloo, PhD, RD, FAHA, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Rhode Island, told Verywell.

Eating 5–10 dried prunes might be easier than trying to fit in the same amount, or more, of fresh plums. But either option is better than prune juice, according to Vadiveloo.

“Whole fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, contribute to satiety, and are generally lower in calories,” she said.

Can Prunes Benefit Young People Too?

While most of the available research on prunes has been conducted on postmenopausal women and men over 55, Vadiveloo said that younger adults would also benefit from eating prunes.

“We’re recommending—across any diet pattern—diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables. So prunes fit into that category,” she said.

If you don’t like the taste of prunes, fruits like apples and berries are also good for your heart. However, fruits only make up one part of your diet. It’s important to focus on a varied diet pattern with vegetables, legumes, and heart-healthy oils as well, Vadiveloo added.

“You can’t add prunes to a diet that’s rich in high-fat red meats or very processed foods and expect it to be a miracle cure,” she said.

What This Means For You

Prunes contain a lot of fiber so you might want to start adding these into your daily routine slowly. If you don’t eat a high-fiber diet already, adding too much fiber at once can lead to cramping, bloating, or constipation.

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