Health & Nutrition

Key benefits

4.5 stars
One serve = 50grams or ~ 6 prunes
Good for bones
Good for bowels
Heart healthy
Great low GI snack to satisfy hunger
Versatile ingredient in meals
Affordable dried fruit
Available all year round
prunes

Australian prunes are dried sugar plums of the French d'Agen variety. In fact "prune" is French for "plum". If there's one thing we all know about prunes it's their laxative effect - keeping us regular. But exciting new research shows prune nutrients can positively impact bones too. Their low GI carbs, high fibre and antioxidants also makes them a satisfying, heart-smart snack.

Be the trend setter and get your family and friends enjoying prunes as a snack or versatile ingredient in meals. Be pleasantly surprised and reacquaint yourself with the sweet taste of prunes.

Prunes for bones

It may be surprising to learn that prunes contain bone-building nutrients: vitamin K, potassium, boron, sorbitol and polyphenol antioxidants which are different bone-building nutrients to those found in dairy. Vitamin K contributes to normal bone structure(1,2) with 17ug per serve of prunes or 21% of vitamin K's RDI. Potassium also plays a role in improving bone mineralisation(3) and a serve of prunes contains 375mg of potassium. Boron is a mineral essential for bone growth, maintenance and regeneration. It boosts magnesium absorption, reduces calcium losses and helps the body make use of vitamin D - all bone-building nutrients.(4) Prunes provide 0.9mg boron per serve. Sorbitol (6g/50g) may help the body absorb calcium.(5,6) Prunes contain 470mg GAE/50g of total polyphenol antioxidants -and especially the antioxidant chlorogenic acid (22mg/50g)(5). Chlorogenic acid, which is also found in coffee, may help improve calcium absorption(5), and reduce markers of bone breakdown(7,8) thus preserving bone mineralisation(8).

Prune for gut health

Prunes are a source of dietary fibre (3.3g/50g), sorbitol and chlorogenic acid as noted above. Each helps maintain a normal bowel function. Sorbitol helps soften stools by absorbing water and fibre give stools a normal consistency.(5) Chlorogenic acid acts on the muscles of the intestines keeping things moving.(5) Prune fibre also boosts healthy gut bacteria.(5,9)

Prunes for long lasting energy

As a dried fruit, prunes are rich in low GI carbohydrates (GI=29)(10) providing sustained energy. Prune' natural fruit sugar fructose and sugar polyol sorbitol are both low GI themselves (GI 23 and 9)(10,11). Plus their high fibre content all contribute to prunes increasing satiety and reducing hunger.(12)

Prunes for heart health

A 50g serve or about 6 prunes contains less than 1g of unhealthy saturated fat. Healthy, varied diets low in saturated fat and high in fruits and vegetables, help reduce blood cholesterol and contribute to heart health.(1) Sodium and potassium are electrolytes involved in blood pressure regulation. A healthy diet, low in sodium that contains a variety of foods also reduces blood pressure.(1) Prunes are naturally low in sodium with 6 prunes containing just 1mg of sodium and 375mg of potassium.

Prunes also contain soluble fibre which may help reduce bile acid/cholesterol reabsorption from the intestines.(13,14)

Prunes for mums and bubs

Prunes are a nutritious snack during pregnancy and research shows people who eat prunes have a higher diet quality.(15) Pregnant women can often have bouts of constipation due to iron supplements so prunes' fibre, sorbitol and antioxidants help keep bowels moving regularly. For constipated infants and toddlers try diluted prune juice and when introducing solids try prune puree mixed in natural yoghurt.

Prunes for vegetarians

Six prunes contain around 1.2mg of plant iron. To boost plant iron absorption, enjoy prunes with a vitamin C source such as citrus. Iron is needed for blood oxygen transport for energy production, so helps reduce tiredness and fatigue.(1)

How much and how often

We all need two serves of fruit a day. Make one of your serves 6 prunes. Australians on average eat just 220g of prunes per person per year (16) well short of our recommendations.

pdf
A HEALTH PROFESSIONALS REPORT "Prunes - a fresh look at nutrition & health benefits"

pdf
Prune Fact Sheet

Nutrients in 50g and 100g of prunes

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Servings per package: 5 serves (250g pack weight)
Serving size: 50g or ~6 prunes
  Average Quantity per Serving Average Quantity per 100g
Energy 395kJ (94cal) 790kJ (190cal)
Protein 1.4g 2.7g
Fat, total
- saturated
- trans
- polyunsaturated
- monounsaturated
<0.2g
<0.1g
<0.1g
<0.1g
<0.1g
<0.2g
<0.1g
<0.1g
<0.1g
<0.1g
Carbohydrate
- sugars
20g
16g
41g
31g
Sorbitol 6g 12g
Dietary fibre, total 3.3g 6.6g
- Soluble fibre 1.8g 3.6g
Vitamin K 17ug
(21% RDI)
35ug
Sodium 1.1mg 2.2mg
Potassium 375mg 750mg
Boron 0.9mg 1.8mg
Iron 1.2mg
(10% RDI)
2.3mg
Total Polyphenols^
Antioxidants
469mgGAE
7750 µmol TE**
938mg GAE
15500 µmol TE**
* Percentage daily intakes are based on the average adult diet of 8700kJ.
"<" means less than
Glycemic Index rating is 29 (Low)
^Source: reference 17
**Trolox Equivalent
Remaining data from National Measurement Institute results 2018

Fact file

Season
Affordable and available all year round.

Storage
Store prunes in their original zip lock bag, or in an air tight container once the bag is open, in the fridge to keep them moist and juicy.

5 ways to get more prunes in your diet

  1. 'Prune' down your recipes - reduce sugar ingredients by 1/3 to 1/2 and add chopped prunes or prune puree for moisture and sweetness.
  2. Add prune puree to natural yoghurt and milk smoothies for a bone boosting snack
  3. Make prune bliss balls - blitz prunes, nuts, seeds with vanilla, cocoa and a little maple syrup
  4. Mix prunes into bircher muesli for a satisfying, tasty and high-fibre breakfast
  5. Make high fibre meat balls with hidden veg - blitz minced meat, prunes, a few grated veggies, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg and lemon juice - the kids will love 'em.

References

  1. Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Food Standard Code Standard 1.2.7 Schedule 4 http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx
  2. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-k
  3. Weaver CM. Potassium and health. Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):368S-77S.
  4. Meacham S, et al. Boron in Human Health: Evidence for Dietary Recommendations and Public Policies. The Open Mineral Processing Journal 2010;3(1):36-53.
  5. Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M. Dried plums and their products: composition and health effects--an updated review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(12):1277-302.
  6. Mineo H, et al. Sugar alcohols enhance calcium transport from rat small and large intestine epithelium in vitro. Dig Dis Sci. 2002 Jun;47(6):1326-33.
  7. Kwak SC, et al. Chlorogenic acid inhibits osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption by down-regulation of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand-induced nuclear factor of activated T cells c1 expression. Biol Pharm Bull. 2013;36(11):1779-86.
  8. Zhou RP, et al. Chlorogenic Acid Prevents Osteoporosis by Shp2/PI3K/Akt Pathway in Ovariectomized Rats. PLoS One. 2016 Dec 29;11(12):e0166751.
  9. Lever E, et al. The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomised controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2018 Feb 2. pii: S0261-5614(18)30003-7.
  10. Foster-Powell K, et al. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jul;76(1):5-56.
  11. Livesey G. Health potential of polyols as sugar replacers, with emphasis on low glycaemic properties. Nutr Res Rev. 2003 Dec;16(2):163-91.
  12. Furchner-Evanson A, et al. Type of snack influences satiety responses in adult women. Appetite. 2010 Jun;54(3):564-9.
  13. Gunness P, Gidley MJ. Mechanisms underlying the cholesterol-lowering properties of soluble dietary fibre polysaccharides. Food Funct. 2010 Nov;1(2):149-55.
  14. Tinker LF, et al. Consumption of prunes as a source of dietary fiber in men with mild hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 May;53(5):1259-65.
  15. Howarth L, et al. Snack selection influences nutrient intake, triglycerides, and bowel habits of adult women: a pilot study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Sep;110(9):1322-7.
  16. Australian Horticulture Statistics handbook Fruit 2016 page 109 of pdf https://horticulture.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Hort-Stats-2016-17-Fruit-web.pdf
  17. USDA Agriculture Research Service 2010 Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2. http://www.orac-info-portal.de/download/ORAC_R2.pdf