Side Effects of Prunes

Dried plum in wicker bowl
Side Effects of Prunes (Image: SasaJo/iStock/GettyImages)

Prunes are made from dehydrated plums and are sometimes called dried plums. Both purple and yellow plums can be used to make prunes, which are high in nutrients and dietary fiber. Prunes can be eaten dried as-is, although they are sometimes stewed to make a dessert or are processed into prune juice. Consuming too many prunes can lead to digestive side effects, including diarrhea and a dependency on laxatives.

Read More: Vitamins in Prunes

Bloating and Gas

Prunes are naturally high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. A half-cup serving of prunes contains 6.2 grams of fiber, according to USDA National Nutrient Database. This provides 21 percent of the RDA for men over 50 years of age and 30 percent of the RDA for women in the same age group. You can benefit from a diet high in fiber, which helps maintain bowel function and lower cholesterol levels. However, the side effect of high fiber is bloating and gas so eating too many prunes may cause some intestinal discomfort, especially if you are not used to a diet high in fiber.

Fast Natural Laxative

Prunes contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that has laxative effects, which causes bowel movements when taken in sufficient quantities. Drugs.com says 50 grams of sorbitol is enough to provide relief from constipation, although you would need to eat a large quantity of prunes to reach this amount. A half-cup serving containing 10 prunes yields roughly 12 grams of sorbitol. Prune juice, because it is more concentrated than whole prunes, has 15 grams of sorbitol per half-cup serving, according to California Dried Plums. Too many prunes could cause diarrhea resulting in dehydration that may result in kidney damage, fainting, weakness and tremors, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Dangers Of Acrylamide

Acrylamide is a carcinogen that is produced during the process of drying plums. Prune juice content ranks relatively higher on the acrylamide index says HealwithFood. Although consuming prunes in moderate amounts is relatively safe, the carcinogenicity is a concern if you eat too many.

Weight Gain

Prunes pack a punch with their weight-gaining sugar content. One serving of six uncooked prunes contains 137 calories and 22 grams of sugar, according to USDA National Nutrient Database. One-cup of prune juice contains about 185 calories. And the high glycemic index of prunes may raise your blood sugar levels more than most other fruits do. So eating prunes in excess will likely result in a gain in weight.

How Many Prunes is Safe

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat two servings of dried fruit per day for a healthy diet, which can include fruit juice. A serving of prunes is a half a cup, or 10 to 12 prunes, while a serving of prune juice is one cup. California Dried Plums recommends if you are not used to a diet high in fiber, start with a smaller serving of four to five prunes and gradually increase your consumption to avoid digestive side effects.

Dependency on Laxatives

Eating too many prunes for a laxative effect, possibly because of the inaccurate belief that laxatives are effective for weight control, could be harmful to your body. Those who do not have regular bowel movements should not rely on dried plums to relieve constipation too frequently. Overuse and dependency on laxative-producing foods can cause electrolyte and mineral imbalances and damage the function of nerves and muscles in the colon, warns the National Eating Disorders Association.

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