If you’re looking to up your fiber intake or are in need of a healthy snack, pick up a bag of prunes. These sweet little dried fruits are a perfect addition to all kinds of meals, as long as you don’t exceed the proper serving size. By snacking straight from the bag and not paying attention to how many you eat, you’ll wind up going way overboard on your calories for the day.
Serving Size and Calorie Information
A proper serving size of prunes is three pieces, weighing about 25 grams. You’ll get 60 calories from three prunes. Prunes have only trace amounts of fat and protein that don’t contribute much to the overall calories. About 97 percent of the calories come from carbohydrates – primarily in the form of sugar. Don’t stress about the sugar content; all fruits have naturally occurring sugars. Always opt for prunes labeled as unsweetened, otherwise you’ll get even more calories and unnecessary added sugar.
You’ll get more than 8 percent of your total fiber needs for a 1,600-calorie diet just by munching on three prunes. This serving of prunes has 1.8 grams of fiber. Ideally you should get 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in your diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. So if 1,600 calories each day is pretty typical for you, your body needs 22.5 grams of daily fiber.
You have another reason to include a serving of prunes in your daily diet: They have several types of vitamins and minerals. Prunes offer vitamin K for normal blood clotting, as well as vitamin A to keep your eyes healthy. You’ll also get potassium, an electrolyte you need for heart and muscle function, in addition to small amounts of calcium and magnesium for strong bones.
Healthy Serving Suggestions
Of course you can snack on prunes all by themselves, but you don’t have to. Rather than eating them whole, chop them up and stir them in with your oatmeal in the morning, add them to a cold veggie-packed pita sandwich or toss them in a spinach and chicken salad at lunch. If you usually have yogurt for breakfast, use your prunes as tiny edible spoons. Dip each prune in the yogurt and take a bite. You’ll be getting a fiber and protein-rich breakfast that will tide you over until lunch.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.