The tradition of serving prunes and prune juice continues to this day as dietitians and foodservice directors seek out natural food sources to address the dietary concerns. One of these concerns is digestive health, for which prunes and prune juice have long been associated as a remedy for gastrointestinal disorders.
Some ascribe the laxative function to the fiber content of prunes. 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 prunes 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 prunes and prune juice is below these levels. More information on prunes and digestive health can be found in the Nutrition Facts and Research section of this site.