Which is more effective: prune or plum juice?

  • By Barbara Quinn The Monterey County Herald
  • Monday, March 25, 2013 1:35pm
  • Life

Here is a question from a faithful reader:

“Is plum juice as effective as prune juice as a laxative for elders? Your column is so reliable &appreciated. g.w.”

We might think this would be an easy question since we know that prunes are plums that have been dried … right? Yet according to the California Dried Plum Board, “all prunes are dried plums but not all plums are dried prunes.”

Plum varieties that become prunes, they explain, are higher in sugar content so they can be dried with their pits without fermenting.

Incidentally, “prunes” were renamed “dried plums” after research showed that we consumers are more inclined to purchase “dried plums” than “prunes.”

Prunes and prune juice get their laxative effect from naturally-occurring substances, including dietary fiber, half of which is “insoluble” fiber which helps movement through the digestive tract.

They also contain the mineral magnesium, a common ingredient in some laxative formulas.

Lastly dried prunes and prune juice are a natural source of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known for its stool-loosening effect.

So what about plum juice? According to their Nutrition Facts labels, 1 cup of plum juice contains the same amount of dietary fiber — about 3 grams — as 1 cup of prune juice. And both juices contain similar amounts of magnesium and sugar.

Cup for cup however, prune juice is slightly higher in calories (180 vs. 160 calories in plum juice) and total carbohydrates, 42 grams vs, 36 grams in plum juice.

And although I could not confirm this with various sources out there in cyberspace, this could mean that prune juice is slightly higher in sorbitol, the sugar alcohol with a laxative effect.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She appears in the new publication “What Doctors Eat,” Email her at bquinnchomp.org.

More in Life

Beer and cupcakes: Snohomish brewer, baker form unlikely duo

Pacific Northwest Cupcakes uses SnoTown’s brews to make beer-infused sweet treats.

The art and science of weathervanes

They told the direction of the wind and aided in forecasting the, well, weather.

Hundreds of ways to pamper your home and yourself

Find fancy fridges to sparkling jewelry under one roof at home and gift shows in Everett.

This is exactly how a cleaning expert organizes her space in 20 minutes

Try these realistic and attainable tricks to land yourself a cleaner home.

Snohomish brewer flavors beer with chilies from mom’s back yard

Beer of the Week: Smoked rye forms sturdy foundation for SnoTown’s well-balanced Loose Rooster.

Fall is just another blooming season

October can be a time of spectacular colors in your garden.

Woodward Canyon Winery continues to weave masterpieces

Owner Rick Small uses grapes from vines he used when he made wine in his back yard in the 1970s.

Music in the mountains: ‘It’s a weather-dependant hobby’

Anastasia Allison of the Musical Mountaineers reflects on making music at the summits.

Great Plant Pick: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo,’ purple-leaf ninebark

Grow it with shrub roses and perennials, and it combines with with ornamental grasses.

Most Read