Prunes, otherwise known as dried plums, are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. The dietary fiber from prunes remains inside your intestines, serving a number of functions as it passes through the bowels. The amount of fiber varies, depending on how the plums are dried and processed.
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Raw dried prunes offer the most fiber, with 0.7 grams in a single prune and an impressive 12.4 grams of fiber in 1-cup serving. If you stew dried prunes before eating them, you’ll get 9.4 grams of fiber in 1 cup of the fruit. Prunes that are canned in heavy syrup contain 8.9 grams of fiber in 1 cup. Baby food versions of prunes contain concentrated amounts of fiber. An ounce of junior baby food prunes in tapioca or the same size serving of strained prunes with tapioca each has 0.8 grams of fiber.
The American diet is woefully short of fiber, with the typical U.S. resident ingesting only 14 grams of fiber a day. Children over the age of 1 year need 10 grams of fiber daily plus an additional gram for each year of age. Your 13-month old, for example, needs 11 grams of fiber each day. Eating half of a 6-ounce jar of baby food prunes will provide 2.4 grams, or almost 22 percent of her daily requirement. Women need 30 grams of fiber a day until age 50, when the recommendation decreases to 21 grams per day. Men should eat at least 38 grams a day until they turn 50, and 30 grams a day thereafter. A three-fourth cup serving of dried prunes delivers 32 percent of a young woman’s daily requirement and contains more than 25 percent of a young man’s daily fiber allotment.
The insoluble fiber in prunes binds water inside your intestines, creating larger, softer stools that move easily through your bowels. This effect can prevent and treat constipation, helping you avoid chronic disorders such as diverticulosis, diverticulitis and hemorrhoids. The soluble fiber from the fruit combines with bile acids in the intestines, forming a gel that’s passed in your stools. The net effect is a reduction in your blood cholesterol level that lowers your risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack or heart failure.
If your diet is low in fiber, introduce high-fiber foods such as prunes gradually to allow your gastrointestinal tract time to get used to the additional load. If you increase your fiber too rapidly, you may experience bloating and gas. Drink plenty of water and other liquids along with your fiber to provide what your body needs for optimal bowel health. Prunes can pose a choking hazard for younger children, so use baby food versions of the fruit or serve stewed prunes cut into bite-size pieces.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database
- Cleveland Clinic: Fitting Fiber In
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Fiber Facts
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Continuum Health Partners: Bowel Function & Dietary Fiber
- University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition: Some Facts About Fiber