What Prunes Are and Why You Should Eat More

A woman holding a prune
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Plums are known as prunes in France. In earlier times, it is believed that both plum and prune meant the fresh fruit. In modern times, Americans understand the prune to be the dried version of the plum. Most prunes are made from the La Petite d'Agen variety of plum brought from France in 1856 by French horticulturist Louis Pellier in Santa Clara Valley.

Almost 99% of the American drop of prunes comes from Pellier's French plum tree which was originally grafted to an American plum tree. The California crop makes up over 70% of the entire world's production of prunes. One pound of prunes takes up to three pounds of fresh plums to make. A single prune tree produces up to 300 pounds of fruit.

Health Benefits of Prunes

Prunes are famously known to be good for treating constipation, but it has other health benefits as well. Prunes are high in potassium. Just 1/2 cup serving can account to 14% of the daily recommended value of the important mineral responsible for building muscle, breaking down carbs, and regulating fluids in the body.

Many Americans don't get enough potassium in their diets, so prunes are a good way to satisfy that need in a very small serving. Prunes are rich in vitamin K which has been shown to support bone health. Research has found an association between higher vitamin K intakes with higher bone density and lower hip fracture incidence.

Ways to Eat Prunes

There are a plethora of ways to get prunes into your diet: Here are 10 ways to eat prunes:

  • Eat prunes alone as a snack
  • Add chopped prunes to your morning cereal or breakfast oatmeal
  • Mix prunes with a variety of nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds
  • Eat them with dark chocolate chips, for a healthy, yet sweet treat
  • Puree prunes to add to muffin and cake mixes for a fiber and sweet boost
  • Add them to smoothies or shakes for a sweet twist
  • Make jam from pureed prunes and eat it with nut butter for a sugar-free PB and P sandwich
  • Add them sparingly to a savory dish such as acorn squash soup
  • Add chopped prunes to salads as you would raisins or dried cherries
  • Add pureed prunes to a vinaigrette dressing for added sweetness

The Prune PR Move

A new movement by the prune industry aims to market prunes as plum raisins or dried plums in hopes the new term will appeal more to younger people. This is because prunes and prune juice has been associated with use by the older population for digestive reasons.