Dried Plums and Prune Juice … Fruit for the Ages
For as long as anyone can remember, California Dried Plums and prune juice have been recommended by healthcare nutritionists and nurse practitioners and served by health care foodservice professionals. Before fresh fruits were available year-round, dried and canned fruits served as both a source of natural sweet tasting food as well as nutrition for patients and residents of health care facilities.
The tradition of serving dried plums and prune juice continues to this day as dietitians and foodservice directors seek out natural food sources to address the dietary concerns of the elderly. One of these concerns is digestive health, for which dried plums and prune juice have long been associated as a remedy for gastrointestinal disorders.
Some ascribe the laxative function to the fiber content of dried plums. A Nutrition Facts serving (five dried plums) provides about 3 grams of dietary fiber—well within the current Institute of Medicine’s recommended range of 21–38 grams per day. However, prune juice is considered effective in promoting bowel function yet has little dietary fiber unless the product contains pulp.
A Nutrition Facts serving of dried plums contains about 6 grams of sorbitol. A Nutrition Facts serving of prune juice (240 ml or 8 ounces) contains about 15 grams of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol thought to act as an osmotic laxative in doses higher than 20 grams. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a warning label about diarrhea on products that provide 50 grams a serving. The amount of sorbitol in both dried plums and prune juice is below these levels. More information on dried plums and digestive health can be found in the Digestive Health section of this site.
Canned dried plums or canned prunes, also described as stewed prunes, are the ultimate prune convenience item. All of the cooking and preparation has already been done. Just open the can and serve. Canned prunes are sold in a wide range of sizes, from 16-ounce to the traditional institutional #10 container.