Prune Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Prunes, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Prunes are simply dried plums, and like plums, they are rich in potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. If you're worried about the sugar content in prunes, it's worth noting the many beneficial compounds that also come packaged in this naturally sweet treat. Whether you eat them as a snack or a dessert, prunes are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while still benefiting from a nutritional boost.

Prune Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for five pitted prunes (48g).

  • Calories: 114
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 30.4g
  • Fiber: 3.4g
  • Sugars: 18.1g
  • Protein: 1g

Carbs

Prunes are primarily made up of carbohydrates. There are a little over 30 grams of carbohydrates in five prunes. Of this total, 3.4 grams come from fiber and 18.1 grams come from sugar.

Fat

Prunes do not contain significant amounts of fat with less than 1/2 gram per serving.

Protein

Prunes are low in protein with just 1 gram per serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Prunes are a great source of beta carotene which our body converts to vitamin A and potassium.

Health Benefits

Beyond their nutritional value, prunes are helpful in the management of several health conditions.

Prevents Constipation

Prunes and prune juice are common home remedies for constipation. Prunes contain pectin, a form of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water to form a gel-like substance inside the digestive tract. This softens stools, making them easier to pass. A review of studies concluded that prunes are a more effective laxative than psyllium husks (a common ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives, like Metamucil).

Reduces Bone Loss

Prunes are also a good source of vitamin K and phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants. Several studies have shown prune and prune extracts to be preventative against osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Through various signaling pathways, prunes prevent bone resorption and enhance the formation of bone. Because prunes have added benefits (and no known negative side effects), there's good reason to include them in your meal plan for bone health.

Supports Weight Loss

Prunes are a satisfying, high-fiber snack that can help manage appetite and reduce food intake at subsequent meals. Compared to processed snacks, prunes are a nutrient-dense health food. Prunes travel well and are ready-to-eat with no preparation required. With the frequency of snacking on the rise, prunes can help maintain dietary balance.

Improves Heart Health

Prunes are rich in potassium and fiber, two key players in the promotion of heart health. As a good source of potassium, prunes help keep blood pressure from becoming elevated. Additionally, the soluble fiber in prunes is especially effective at reducing cholesterol. Prunes are naturally free of saturated fat and very low in sodium, making them an ideal choice for maintaining heart health.

Prevents Premature Aging

The antioxidants in prunes work throughout the body to reduce cell damage and slow down the aging process. The Oxygen Radical Absorbency Scale (ORAC) is a measure of how effective certain foods are at scavenging and neutralizing free radicals which lead to premature aging. Prunes are highly rated on this scale, making them a great choice for keeping your cells young and healthy.

Allergies

Prune allergies are uncommon but do occur. Oftentimes, what appears to be a prune allergy is actually a condition known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS). With OAS, the immune system mistakes certain foods for common tree pollens. This cross-reactive response tends to be mild, with a slight burning or tingling sensation in the mouth as well as the swelling of the lips. If you experience a reaction to prunes, it may be related to a birch pollen allergy.

Adverse Effects

The main potential adverse effect of prunes and prune juice is digestive discomfort. If you aren't used to eating prunes, their fiber content and laxative effects can cause gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. To avoid this issue, increase your intake gradually.

Varieties

The vast majority of prunes on the market are made from California French prune plums. These are sold whole, chopped, or diced and with or without pits. Slightly smaller than California French prune plums are dried mirabelles. Sour prunes are made from red plums dried in kilns or the sun for use in Middle Eastern and Greek dishes.

Prunes are also manufactured into juice. Check the ingredients list to make sure you are getting 100% prune juice with no added sugar. A product called lekvar, or prune butter, is a thick paste made of pureed prunes. This is used in baby foods and baking.

When It's Best

As a dried fruit, prunes are available at any time of the year. They are best when unsweetened and organic, but conventionally-grown prunes are equally nutrient-dense. Unpitted prunes are less expensive than pitted ones if you don't mind eating around the pits.

Storage and Food Safety

Prunes are packaged with expiration dates that will help you determine how long they can be kept. Reseal the package tightly after opening to block air and humidity. Store prunes in the refrigerator to prolong their shelf-life. Once opened, prunes should stay good for up to 6 months.

How to Prepare

Prunes can be eaten alone or chopped up and added to hot and cold cereals, yogurt, trail mixes, and salads. Use prunes in baked goods, stuffing recipes, or chutney and compote. With the exception of smoothies, firmer pitted prunes hold up best in recipes. When making a puree, soak prunes overnight in water, drain, and pulverize in a food processor.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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