Prunes for constipation

1 year ago

I think most of us are aware of prunes and that they can help those suffering with constipation, but recently they have been officially recognised by the EU Commission for being beneficial to digestive health.  This follows a six-year study, and prunes are now the only whole and dried fruit to achieve an authorized health claim from the EU. 

I therefore thought they were worthy of this week's blog post, along with some recipes on how to include them easily into your diet.

So why are prunes so beneficial to digestive health?

Digestive Health

Their main benefit is their high fibre content.

We need around 25g of fibre a day, possibly more if you are a constipation sufferer, and just 8-12 prunes (100g) will provide a ¼ of your daily fibre requirement.

Their skin also contains something called dihydrophenylisatin, which has a gentle laxative effect that will help to soften stools and promote easier movement through the bowels.  Hence, together with their high fibre content, these little purple dried fruits are of real benefit if you have constipation.

Do prunes have any other health benefits?

Yes, absolutely!  They also contain:

  • Potassium that is good for regulating your blood pressure
  • Vitamin B6 and copper that helps support both your nervous and immune system
  • Vitamin K, calcium and manganese that are important for healthy bones
  • Polyphenols (antioxidants), which help to protect our DNA and reduce inflammation

In fact, just three prunes a day also count as one of your 5-a-day!

What about prune juice?

For some people, prune juice will also help constipation but be careful not to drink too much.  Prune juice tends to contain high levels of sorbitol, a type of sugar, which can cause side effects such as bloating and gas, so if you are looking to use prunes to treat your constipation I would stick with the dried fruit rather than juice, just in case.

However, if you want to try a prune juice look for one that is 100% natural (so no added sugars) such as Sunraysia Prune Juice.

Prune-tastic recipes

The following recipes I have adapted from the California Prunes website which is quite a good resource for more prune information and other recipes.

Prune muesli (4 servings)

Prune Muesli

This is a perfect constipation-kicking breakfast and a great way to start the day.  The recipe below creates about 3-4 servings so can be made in advance to help you save time.

Ingredients

  • 125g rolled oats
  • 15g desiccated coconut
  • 10g flaked almonds
  • 15g pumpkin seeds
  • 15g chopped walnuts
  • 75g chopped prunes
  • 15g goji berries
  • 30g chopped dried apricots
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit such as ½ banana or ½ chopped apple

Mix all the ingredients together (excluding the yoghurt and fresh fruit) and store in an airtight container – this will then provide 3-4 breakfast servings.  When ready to serve, put into a bowl and top with milk and fresh fruit to serve. Alternatively, you can stir in the natural yoghurt, enough to cover all the ingredients and leave in the fridge overnight to make a Bircher-style muesli.

Prune and mango smoothie (2 servings)

Prune smoothie
This is a delicious smoothie to have at breakfast or during the day if you’re feeling hungry or fancy something sweet.

Ingredients

  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 mango, peeled, stoned and chopped
  • 5 prunes, roughly chopped
  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • 200ml milk

Put all of the ingredients together in a liquidizer and whizz until smooth before pouring into glasses.  Drink immediately.

If you like this recipe, you may want to read 'Juices for constipation' for more drink ideas.

Prune and halloumi kebabs (4 servings)

Halloumi kebabs

Perfect for the BBQ and a healthier, vegetarian version of the traditional kebab.

Ingredients

  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 200g halloumi cheese
  • 100g prunes
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • 2 tbsp. chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Black pepper

Chop all of the vegetables and the halloumi into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowel together with the prunes.  Squeeze over the lime juice and add in the chopped coriander, olive oil and black pepper.  Mix it altogether and leave for 10 minutes in the fridge to allow it to marinate.  Then, thread the ingredients onto metal skewers and grill on the BBQ (or in the oven) for about 8-10 minutes.  Serve with a delicious green salad.

The prune is actually quite versatile so you can also try the following ideas as well and give your self a daily prune boost!

  • Add chopped prunes to your regular cereal or porridge
  • Add them to salads or even on top of a pizza
  • Mix chopped prunes into rice, lentil or quinoa dishes
  • Add them to tagines, stews or casseroles
  • Blend them into smoothies

Don't forget to read "The benefits of flaxseed" as well as they go brilliantly with prunes, especially at breakfast, and together form a great constipation-fighting partnership.

Images from Guardian.co.uk, Candis.co.uk, Aldi.co.uk and CookVeg.co.uk


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