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The #1 Food to Help You Poop

A dietitian explains why eating more prunes can help relieve constipation.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

There are few things more uncomfortable than not being able to poop. Being constipated can cause stomach cramps, bloatedness, nausea, and pain when you try to use the bathroom, and these symptoms can quickly ruin your day or week. Many factors can cause constipation, such as stress, dehydration, and underlying medical conditions, but your diet also plays a huge factor, and things like not getting enough fiber or eating large amounts of dairy can make it worse. Thankfully, there are some specific foods that can help you poop, too.

Foods like sweet potatoes, chia seeds, avocados, and beans can help you pass bowel movements, but according to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, prunes are the absolute best food to eat when you need to poop. "Prunes are a go-to to help people who need some help in the bowel movement department," says Manaker. "Data published in Clinical Nutrition showed that people who ate prunes experienced significantly greater increases in stool weight and stool frequency vs. non-prune eaters."

Read on to learn more about why prunes are the best food to help you poop. And next, check out these 7 Supplements To Help You Poop.

How prunes can help you poop

woman holding prunes

According to Manaker, prunes have three major components that give them their constipation-relief abilities: fiber, sorbitol, and phenolic compounds.

"Prunes are an effective natural remedy for constipation due to their fiber content, which helps promote bowel regularity," says Manaker. "For example, one serving of Sunsweet Amaz!n Prunes provides 3 grams of fiber."

Fiber is necessary for healthy bowel movements because this nutrient softens and adds "bulk" to your stool. It does this by absorbing water, which both adds weight and helps to avoid watery stool, which is harder to pass.

Along with helpful fiber, prunes also contain a sugar alcohol called sorbitol, "which has a natural laxative effect," says Manaker. One study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that sorbitol from prunes can help relieve constipation, increase normal stool, and decrease hard stool in patients with chronic constipation. Even with prune juice, which has much smaller amounts of fiber than regular prunes, the sorbitol proved to help relieve constipation.

And lastly, prunes are rich in phenolic compounds, says Manaker, "which may help to stimulate the gut." According to research, these phenolic plant compounds have laxative qualities that are known to help give prunes the ability to relieve constipation.

"These properties collectively facilitate better digestive health and make prunes a practical dietary choice for those looking to improve bowel function," says Manaker. And thankfully, the benefits of prunes don't stop there.

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Other benefits of eating prunes


On top of being the best food to help you poop, prunes can also provide a handful of other health benefits, like preventing bone loss and helping to manage cholesterol.

"Research suggests that eating 5 to 6 prunes daily may help prevent bone loss," says Manaker, "especially in postmenopausal women." Also, one study found that the pectin in prunes may be linked to improving cholesterol levels; another study found that prunes can help regulate cholesterol and inflammation—both of which are factors for cardiovascular disease.

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Ways to eat prunes

prunes and oatmeal

If eating prunes on their own doesn't appeal to you, fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to sneak them into your diet.

"Prunes can be added to smoothies, chicken dishes, and even desserts," Manaker says. You can also include prunes in a charcuterie spread, make a puree to sweeten some of your go-to sauces, or chop them up and add them as a sweet topping to your favorite salad.

However you choose to eat them, prunes are among the best foods you can eat for overall healthy digestion.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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