Prune Juice: Benefits, Nutrition, and Risks

Prune Juice: Benefits, Nutrition, and Risks

Prune juice is a product of prunes, which are dried plums (Prunus domestica L). Many people use prune juice as a home remedy for treating constipation because of the juice’s laxative effect.

While research has linked whole prunes to several health benefits, such as supporting bone health and a healthy gut microbiome, studies on prune juice specifically are limited. However, the juice is a good source of several vitamins and minerals and may have some health-protective antioxidant properties.

Most research on prune juice surrounds its ability to alleviate chronic constipation. Constipation is defined as one or more of the following:

  • Having fewer than three bowel movements per week
  • Stools that are hard, dry, or lumpy
  • Stools that are difficult or painful to pass
  • A feeling that not all stool has passed

About 16% of adults under age 60 and 33% of adults ages 60 and older have symptoms of constipation.

In one study, adults aged 20–75 with chronic constipation were randomly assigned to consume either 54 grams (g), or about 2 ounces (oz), of prune juice or a placebo daily for eight weeks. The adults who drank the prune juice experienced a significant decrease in hard and lumpy stools and an improvement in normal stool without an increase in flatulence (gas), diarrhea, loose stools, or the urgent need to poop. They also reported no negative side effects.  

Prune juice’s combination of sorbitol, fiber (especially pectin), and polyphenols might make it uniquely effective in relieving constipation. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol—a natural type of carbohydrate—that increases the amount of water absorbed into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The extra fluids help move food through the digestive tract, relieving constipation.

Fiber is a known treatment for constipation, as it helps move food through the GI tract. It also adds bulk to stool, making it easier to pass. Polyphenols are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some research suggests polyphenols can improve the health of the gut microbiota—the diverse bacteria in the GI tract—which could support the health and function of the digestive system.

Another older study looked at the effect of prune juice on GI symptoms in 54 volunteers with an average age of 44. After a baseline (normal diet) week, the participants drank 125 milliliters (mL), or about 4 oz, of prune juice twice a day for two weeks, followed by another juice-free week.

During all four weeks, the participants kept daily records of their bowel movements, including frequency and difficulty, stool consistency, and digestive symptoms. During the two-week prune juice period, the participants reported fewer days with difficulty defecating. However, they reported experiencing more gas during that time.

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States. The condition often has no symptoms, so taking certain lifestyle and dietary measures to regulate blood pressure is important for reducing risk. Evidence suggests drinking prune juice may help.

An older study assessed the effects of prune and prune juice intake in 259 people with pre-hypertension (high blood pressure). Over eight weeks, volunteers drank prune juice and ate either three (single dose) or six (double dose) prunes soaked overnight in a glass of water. A control group consumed water only. The single-dose group experienced significant reductions in blood pressure, while the double-dose group only meaningfully reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number).

Prune juice can be part of a balanced, heart-healthy diet. However, more recent research is needed to determine if it directly benefits blood pressure levels.

Drinking prune juice may offer some of the health benefits associated with eating whole prunes. The fruit is a diverse source of phenolic compounds that have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Prune juice also provides several vitamins and minerals, like potassium and vitamin C, that support various aspects of health.

However, since research on prune juice specifically is limited, many of these benefits are unconfirmed. Some health benefits of prunes that may extend to prune juice include:

  • Promotes a healthy gut microbiome
  • Supports bone health
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Protects against disease, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes

One cup of 100% prune juice provides:

  • Calories: 176
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 10 milligrams (mg)
  • Carbohydrates: 43 g
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 1.5 g
  • Iron: 3 mg, or 16% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Potassium: 685 mg, or 14.5% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 10 mg, or 11% of the DV

Prune juice is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, particularly iron, potassium, and vitamin C.

Iron is an essential mineral. It’s a part of many enzymes and proteins in the body, including hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to your cells.

Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that helps support regular heartbeat as well as nerve and muscle function. It also helps transfer nutrients into cells and remove waste from cells. Plus, a potassium-rich diet can offset some of the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure.

Vitamin C is a vitamin and an antioxidant the body needs to promote healing and immune function. This essential nutrient also helps support healthy skin, bones, and connective tissue.

Prune juice also contains a smaller amount of vitamin K, which supports bone health.

Prune juice is considered generally safe. However, since prune juice can have a laxative effect, you may experience digestive symptoms, such as gas or diarrhea, especially if you drink it in large quantities. To reduce or avoid this, add prune juice and other high-fiber foods to your diet in small amounts and gradually increase your intake.

Prune juice also contains acrylamide, a chemical formed when carbohydrates are heated. The International Cancer Research Center (ICRC) has identified acrylamide as a possible cancer-causing compound in humans.

One older research review stated that consuming an 8 oz glass of prune juice frequently might be comparable to consuming the amount of acrylamide found in french fries, the greatest contributor of acrylamide from foods for the general population. Prune juice also contains more acrylamide than whole prunes due to the additional processing of the juice.

Finally, it is possible to be allergic to prunes and prune juice, which start as plums.

One cup of 100% prune juice counts as one serving of fruit. How many servings of fruit you should eat per day depends on your age, sex, height, weight, physical activity, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. At a 2,000 calorie intake, a non-pregnant, non-breastfeeding person should aim for two daily fruit servings.

You can consume prune juice alone or with other drinks and foods. Here are some ideas:

  • Blend into smoothies
  • Mix it into brewed tea
  • Use it to make a mocktail with sparkling water and add-ins like ginger and fresh herbs
  • Incorporate it into sweet or savory cooking sauces

Prune juice has been shown to help relieve constipation and offer other potential benefits, including improved blood pressure and gut health. It’s a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamin C.

Drinking prune juice may cause digestive symptoms, like gas, in some people. Speak to your healthcare provider if you’re unsure about the right portion of prune juice for your needs and goals.

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