Eating This Fruit Can Help You Poop And Lower Cholesterol At The Same Time

If you've ever consulted the internet or asked a gastroenterologist for advice about quick and easy ways to deal with constipation, chances are that you would have come across a handful of answers that have to do with your diet. Among the list of foods that help relieve constipation are wheat bran, broccoli, sweet potatoes, legumes, and even good old water.

Prunes (or dried plums) are a particularly popular option when there's a dire need for you to keep things moving along, so to speak. According to a 2011 study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, incorporating this type of fruit into your diet is one of the first things you should consider when you're dealing with mild to severe constipation.

But helping you overcome your bowel-related obstacles isn't the only health benefit that prunes boast. More than being just a constipation remedy, having prunes for a snack could be a life-saving preventive measure as well.

How prunes help improve bowel movement

As WebMD experts explain, prunes are abundant in both insoluble fiber and sorbitol, which are excellent for remedying constipation: The former adds bulk to your stools and makes the process of passing them through your intestines much easier, while the latter is a natural laxative. Plus, the benefits of dried plums on bowel movement can be experienced even by people who don't like eating prunes, as prune juice has been shown to be similarly effective.

A 2018 study published in Clinical Nutrition provides supporting evidence for the notion that prunes help facilitate good bowel movement. Researchers looked into how dried plums can affect a person's gastrointestinal function, focusing on how consuming prunes can change how often a person passes stool, the weight of their stools, and whether they could tolerate the fruits well. The results showed that prunes had a considerable effect on both stool frequency and stool weight, particularly for people who lack fiber in their diet and have "infrequent" bowel movements. 

As explained by New York State Dietetic Association spokesperson Anita Mirchandani, MS, RD, CDN, "Similar to other fiber-rich foods, [prunes] have the ability to stimulate the gastrocolic reflex and promote downward movement of food" (via GoodRX Health).

The relationship between dried plums and lower cholesterol levels

Interestingly, studies have shown that dried plums can have a positive effect on both your cholesterol levels and your risk for certain serious diseases. 

For starters, based on a couple of studies presented in 2023 at the American Society of Nutrition's annual meeting, eating prunes has been demonstrated to improve both the HDL levels and cholesterol-to-HDL ratios of men who are 56 years of age and older (via EurekAlert!). 

Meanwhile, the results of a 2021 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggest that postmenopausal women who consume between 50 and 100 grams of prunes per day may experience a decrease in their total cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, and inflammatory markers, thereby lowering their chances of cardiovascular diseases. This is supported by the findings of a 2013 review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, which highlight that eating prunes can help a person feel fuller, causing them to eat less. This, in turn, can lower their cardiovascular disease risk, as well as make them less likely to become obese or diabetic.