Prune juice is beneficial to every area of the body because it contains antioxidants that fight cell-damaging free-radicals. It is good for the heart, potentially reducing LDL cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and contributing to an even, regular heartbeat. The fiber in this beverage prevents spikes in blood sugar, as well, and may also help people to feel full longer and lose weight. Bowel regularity is another advantage, as the juice has a mild laxative effect. The level of benefit a person gets from the drink ultimately depends on how manufacturers process it, so it’s important to read labels on store-bought versions before buying.
Protection Against Free Radicals
Prunes are high in antioxidants called phenols. Scientists believe that these substances are able to block oxygen-based free radicals that damage body fats. Although damaging fat and getting rid of it may seem like a good thing, in reality, every cell in the human body requires some fat in its outer membrane for proper functioning. Drinking a single glass of prune juice each day therefore might protect every area of the body against problems such as cancer, keeping cell membranes strong and functional.
Doctors recognize that potassium is important for a healthy heart. This mineral plays a role in nerve response and muscle movement. It is responsible at least in part for triggering the heart to contract and pump blood at the proper pace throughout the entire body. Getting enough potassium reduces blood pressure in some individuals. A reduction in blood pressure lowers the risk of problems such as dizziness, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Prune juice is excellent source of potassium, with a 6 ounce (0.18 liter) serving containing 0.02 ounces (528 milligrams), or about 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance. It is also very low in sodium, with a 6 ounce (0.18 liter) serving having less than 0.001 ounces (35 milligrams), or under 1 percent of the recommended daily allowance. This matters because higher levels of sodium generally make blood pressure go up.
Similar to other fruits, vegetables and whole grains, prunes contain a high amount of both insoluble and soluble fiber. The insoluble type may lower the level of low-density lipoprotein or “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, because it makes it harder for the intestines to absorb bile produced by the liver. The body’s response is to make and release even more bile salts, but this requires more LDL cholesterol. The liver therefore makes more receptors, which pull the LDL cholesterol out of the blood and reduce the risk of blood clots and heart attack.
Blood Sugar Regulation
A ¼ cup (30 gram) serving of prunes provides 12.1 percent of the recommended daily allowance of soluble fiber. This kind of fiber mixes with water in the body to create a gel-like substance, which slows down the movement of food through the digestive system. It also shields the food from digestive enzymes and makes it harder for nutrients including glucose to reach the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. As a result, the body doesn’t produce a spike in insulin, and blood sugar levels stay more stable. Prune juice therefore is an excellent beverage choice for diabetics or for those at risk for developing the disease.
The soluble fiber in this type of drink may help people to maintain or lose weight. As it mixes with water and turns into a gel, the fiber makes an individual feel full longer. That means a person is less likely to overeat.
Insoluble fiber gives stools bulk so they pass through the intestinal track more quickly. Physicians often recommend prune juice as a simple, inexpensive over-the-counter laxative for this reason. When a person is able to avoid constipation and has regular bowel movements, he is at lower risk for serious problems such as colorectal cancer. Clean, functional intestines also contribute to benefits such as increased energy, as physical body processes often depend on the nutrients absorbed in the gut.
Selecting a Healthy Version
Not all dried plum juices are the same when it comes to their nutritional content and benefits. Some manufacturers add extra sugar or unhealthy preservatives during processing, which may lower or negate health benefits. Versions also have different concentrations, and this affects how much fiber and other nutrients a person gets in each serving. Looking for an organic variety is a way to avoid some of these problems. When no manufactured version works, experts recommend making juice at home by simmering five parts water to one part dried plums for several hours, removing the pits and pureeing the mixture.