Prunes promote gut health, two more studies confirm

Published: 10-May-2024

Prunes may help reduce belly fat and the risk for cardiovascular disease while improving gut health, among other health benefits, according to new research

Two novel studies by the California Prune Board have reiterated the benefits of prune consumption for a variety of health aspects, including gut microbiome, bone and heart health. 

The latest discoveries come from The Prune Study, a 12-month randomised controlled trial conducted with 183 postmenopausal women aged 55 to 75, who were divided into three groups instructed to either consume 50 grams or 100 grams of prunes daily, or none at all. 


Prunes, Belly Fat & Heart Health

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating 100 grams of prunes daily may help prevent changes in fat distribution around the central region of the body, especially belly fat. An increase in the prevalence of belly fat is common in postmenopausal women and when excessive, can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Not only is this good news for the waistline; it’s good news for the heart as well.

“While changes in body fat distribution and body mass index (BMI) are related generally to ageing, a growing body of research shows that where the body holds its fat mass is strongly associated with menopause transition,” said Principal investigator Mary Jane De Souza, Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University. “Increased belly fat matters when it comes to disease risk, and dietary patterns can help impact fat distribution. Findings from this research show a daily diet that includes prunes may help reduce that belly fat.”


Prunes & the Gut-Bone Health Connection

Published in Frontiers in Nutrition, a second study delved deeper to uncover differences in the gut bacteria of the women who experienced a positive change in their bone density compared with those who saw no change after eating 50 to 100 grams of prunes daily over a 12-month period.

Interestingly, those who had an increase in bone density after eating prunes had a higher abundance of a certain type of “good” gut bacteria that is associated with more efficiently breaking down nutrients and bioactive parts of prunes for the body’s use. This same group also experienced a drop in inflammation throughout the body.

“As a nutrient-rich fruit, prunes have a combination of minerals, vitamin K, phenolic compounds and fibre that is unique among foods and is important for bone integrity,” De Souza said. “These study findings add to the growing body of precision nutrition research and highlight a greater potential for prunes to positively impact health outcomes through a personalised dietary recommendation approach.” 


Exploring the full spectrum of prunes' health benefits

Prunes pack a powerful punch of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, and the scientific evidence of their nutritional power continues to build. 

Gut health guardians

Studies have indicated that prunes are superior to psyllium, the primary component in numerous over-the-counter laxatives, for relieving constipation. A 2022 study found that consumption of prunes is linked to an increase in a particular gut bacteria associated with lowering inflammatory markers in the body.

Bone protectors

Numerous studies have demonstrated the bone-protective effects that prunes may provide, particularly for women with an increased risk for osteoporosis. Findings from a review study show post-menopausal women who consumed 100 grams of prunes daily for one year better retained bone mineral density compared to those in the control group over the next five years.

Heart health heroes

A 2021 study showed that postmenopausal women who ate 50 to 100 grams of prunes daily over a six-month period reduced their levels of total cholesterol, oxidative stress, and inflammatory markers—risk factors for cardiovascular disease—when compared to a group that did not include prunes in their diet.


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