- Prunes are a dried fruit that can benefit people with type 2 diabetes when eaten in moderation.
- Eating prunes can help to increase feelings of fullness without raising blood sugar levels.
- Because of their nutritional properties, prunes can help to regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes may be hesitant to incorporate fruit into their diet because of its carbohydrate content. Carbohydrates are broken down into smaller sugar molecules, which raise blood sugar levels. However, many fruits can be a healthy component of a diabetes friendly diet, including prunes.
Prunes offer unique benefits to people with type 2 diabetes. Because of their high soluble fiber content and low glycemic index, they may not spike blood sugar levels like other sweet foods. Additional properties of prunes can help to delay blood sugar absorption and maintain stable blood sugar levels. In this article, you’ll learn how to incorporate prunes into your diet to support your health if you have type 2 diabetes.
Are Prunes Good for People with Diabetes?
Prunes are a healthy source of carbohydrates for people with diabetes. Some of the nutritional properties of prunes, including their high fiber content, make them an excellent option for people with type 2 diabetes when eaten in moderation. However, like any carbohydrate, you should consider eating prunes as part of a balanced diet. Adding lean proteins and fats to your plate when eating prunes can help to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
Prune Nutritional Value
Prunes are made from dried, dehydrated plums. During preparation, they may be treated with water or steam, or in some cases, a suitable preservative. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutritional properties of prunes per fifty grams (or roughly 4 to 5 prunes) are as follows:
- 120 calories.
- 32g of carbohydrates.
- 3.6g of fiber.
- 366g of potassium.
Prunes also contain high amounts of the following, which can help to support overall health:
- Quinic acid.
- Neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids.
- Vitamin K1.
Health Benefits of Prunes for People with Diabetes
There are several potential health benefits of prunes for people with diabetes, including:
Blood sugar regulation
Some research suggests that prunes may help to regulate blood sugar. One review found that the neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids found in prunes may help to delay glucose (blood sugar) absorption. Prunes also contain sorbitol, a carbohydrate found in some foods that has been shown to help control blood sugar levels in animals. Additional research suggests that pectin, a polysaccharide found in prunes, may also help to regulate digestion and blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Improved insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism
Prunes are a rich source of vitamin K1. Vitamin K has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Improved insulin secretion
One study conducted on animals suggests that quinic acid may help to improve insulin secretion and lower blood sugar levels. More research is required for the role of quinic acid and human insulin function.
Due to their fiber and sorbitol content, prunes are also known for having a mild laxative effect. People with type 2 diabetes can experience gastrointestinal issues, including constipation. Eating prunes can help to keep bowel movements regular during bouts of constipation. A 2014 systematic review found prunes to be a more effective remedy for constipation than psyllium, the ingredient found in many over-the-counter (OTC) constipation remedies.
Due to prunes' high soluble fiber content, they can help you feel fuller sooner when they’re eaten before a meal or snack.
How Does Eating Prunes Affect Blood Sugar?
Prunes are a healthy carbohydrate option for people with diabetes because they should not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Some properties of prunes (including sorbitol, pectin, and neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids) may also help to control blood sugar levels.
Glycemic Index of Prunes
Prunes have a low glycemic index (GI) rating. The GI is a helpful rating system for people with diabetes. It rates foods that contain carbohydrates based on how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels.
Foods that may quickly elevate blood sugar levels have a high GI rating (like white bread, potatoes, and rice), and foods that have a delayed effect on blood sugar levels have a low GI rating (prunes, oatmeal, beans, and green vegetables). Incorporating fewer high GI foods and more lower GI foods can be part of maintaining a balanced diet.
Ways to Incorporate Prunes Into Your Diet
When you have diabetes, it’s important to think about balancing your plate when incorporating any new food into your diet. But that doesn’t mean that meal planning has to get complicated. If you’re adding new, healthy carbohydrates like prunes into your dietary routine, consider eating them alongside a protein or fat to round out the meal. For example, adding a couple of prunes to some full fat yogurt for breakfast or a midday snack is a great way to put together an easy, healthy, and satisfying snack.
Additional ways to incorporate prunes into your diet include:
- Add them to a smoothie with other veggies, nuts, and yogurt, milk, or a milk alternative.
- Roast or stew them in a savory dish, like chicken or lamb. Chicken marbella is a popular dinner entree that incorporates diabetes and heart-friendly foods like chicken, prunes, capers, olives, garlic, and olive oil.
- Chop them up to add to salads or chutneys.
- Eat them raw with a spoonful of nut butter or goat cheese.
If you’re interested in adding prunes or other healthy foods to your diet, Nourish can connect you with a Registered Dietitian specialized in diabetes management and meal planning. If you need help optimizing your diet, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Figuring out what to eat when you have diabetes can feel confusing at first, but there are many ways to incorporate your favorite foods, including fruits such as prunes, into your diet. Eating a moderate amount of prunes on a regular basis is one way to support blood sugar levels, keep your bowel movements regular, and incorporate fiber into your diet.
How a Dietitian Can Help
Working with a registered dietitian can help you to make food choices to satisfy your likes, cravings, nutritional needs, and cultural associations with food while supporting your health goals.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
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