High-fiber fruits act as natural laxatives when you experience mild irregularity. Safer and less habit-forming than drugstore laxatives, fruit also gives you the essential nutrients you need for a healthy diet. Although the Mayo Clinic website says that all types of fruit can prevent constipation, some are higher in fiber than others. Choose from your common fruit-bowl fare, or tempt your palate with something more exotic.
Dried fruit is extremely high in fiber. One cup of stewed prunes without any sugar added gives you 15 g of dietary fiber. A cup of stewed apricots gives you 8 g of fiber, and the same portion of stewed peaches gives you 7 g of fiber. The downside of choosing these fruits is that they're high in calories, compared with other fruit. Per cup, you get 270, 210 and 200 calories from prunes, apricots and peaches. A cup of raisins gives you 7 g of fiber, but this dried fruit is highest in the calorie department, with 500 calories.
A bowl of berries, individual or mixed, can boost the fiber in your diet too — these may be a better bet than dried fruit if you're watching your waistline. A cup of fresh raspberries gives you 9 g of fiber and only 60 calories. The same portion of blackberries gives you the same number of calories and 8 g of fiber. Strawberries and blueberries are lower in fiber, giving you 4 g per cup and 50 and 80 calories, respectively.
Apples, Oranges and Pears
The best fruit laxatives may be the fruits that are always in season. A medium-size apple gives you 5 g of fiber and 80 calories. A cup of sliced pear gives you 6 g of fiber and about 100 calories. A medium-size orange gives you less fiber, compared with apples and pears: 3 g of fiber and 70 calories. However, don't write off oranges; a single orange gives you more than 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Don't forget to consider the more unusual exotic fruits. One guava fruit gives you around 5 g of fiber and only 45 calories. The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranks guava as its No. 1 gold medalist fruit because it's also rich in vitamin C and carotenoids. Or try a couple of kiwi fruits — you get about 6 g of fiber and 90 calories from these. Asian pears are also very high in fiber, giving you 10 g of fiber and about 120 calories per every 275-g fruit.
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse indicates that eating 20 to 35 g of fiber every day should protect you from constipation. If you find it difficult to get all of your fiber from fruit, don't forget that vegetables, whole grain foods and especially dried peas and beans are also good choices, too.
- Linus Pauling Institute; Fiber; J. Higdon; December 2005
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Constipation
- MayoClinic.com; Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet; November 2009
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Berries
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Pears
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Oranges