5 Best Fruits for Constipation, According to a Dietitian
We all know how uncomfortable being constipated can be. Constipation is technically defined as three days without a bowel movement for most people. However, this varies widely from person to person. Surprisingly (or maybe not), 14% of the world's population experiences chronic constipation.
The lack of dietary fiber and fluids in the diet are two culprits that lead to constipation. The current Dietary Guidelines suggest including at least 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day, yet, according to a news release from the American Society for Nutrition in June 2021, only 7% of the U.S. population meets the mark. Other factors such as a lack of exercise, changes in toilet routine, avoiding the urge to void, and certain medications and supplements can also cause constipation.
The good news is that you can resolve this issue by eating more fiber-rich fruits. Read on to find out the best fruits to include in your diet to avoid constipation.
Best Fruit for Constipation
One medium pear contains about 5.5 grams of fiber. Eating one pear provides 20% of the Daily Value of fiber (28 grams, based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).
Pears contain both insoluble and soluble fiber—both of which are important for keeping your gut happy and in good working order. The former is found in the skin of the fruit. It does not dissolve in water and helps move stool along the gut, keeping your bowels regular. The latter is found in the medium-soft flesh of the pear, and, when combined with water, forms a gel that bulks up the stool.
In addition to being rich in fiber, pears are a natural laxative due to their higher fructose content and the presence of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. Sorbitol is not well absorbed; it draws water to the colon, making stools soft and easy to pass.
Aside from eating the whole fruit, you can enjoy pears in many ways: with cheese as a hearty snack; in a salad, like our Roasted Beet & Pear Salad; or as a dessert, such as Spiced-Pomegranate Poached Pears.
2. Dragon fruit
Dragon fruit comes in two common varieties: red-skinned and yellow-skinned. Both types have white flesh with black seeds, but some red-skinned varieties also have dark-red meat.
Unlike apples and pears, dragon fruits have thick, inedible skin. Even so, a 6-ounce dragon fruit provides almost 5 grams of fiber, which is about 18% of the Daily Value.
Enjoy dragon fruits as whole fruits cut into cubes or slices, or add them into a smoothie to boost fiber intake.
One medium apple has about 4 grams of fiber, serving up 14% of the Daily Value for fiber.
Like pears, you can credit apples for their substantial amount of fiber from the apple skin, a type of insoluble fiber, and pectin, a form of soluble fiber present in the flesh. One study noted that pectin might reduce the symptoms of constipation by decreasing the transit time of stools—that is, speeding up elimination.
You can easily include apples as part of your meal pattern by eating the whole fruit or adding them into savory dishes such as Kale with Apples & Mustard, salads like Apple Coleslaw and sweet desserts such as Cherry-Wine Poached Apples.
4. Citrus fruits
There are many ways to eat citrus fruits as part of your meals and snacks: eat them as is or add them to salads like the Grapefruit, Hearts of Palm & Shrimp Salad and entrees like our Spicy Orange Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry and Tilapia with Grapefruit-Caper Sauce.
Kiwis round up the list of high-fiber fruits, with one kiwi providing over 2 grams of fiber, about 8% of the Daily Value.
One study found that eating two kiwis per day may help decrease the transit time and increase the number of bowel movements. Another study noted that kiwis might decrease abdominal discomfort and prevent constipation.
Savor your appetite for kiwis by eating the whole fruit minus the fuzzy brown skin, adding sliced kiwis to a light lunch salad like our Chicken, Kiwi and Avocado Salad, to salsa and chips and to smoothies.
Related: 3-Day Meal Plan to Help You Poop
Best Fruit Juice for Constipation
While eating whole fruits is the best option to prevent and relieve constipation, because of its fiber content, drinking juice may also help relieve constipation for some people. The sorbitol in fruit juice draws water into the intestine, which helps move contents along the gut. Prune, apple and pear juices have higher amounts of sorbitol than other fruit juices. They've been found to be effective in treating constipation in children.
If you decide to drink juice as a way to resolve constipation, choose 100% fruit juice with no added sugars and consume no more than 10 fluid ounces per day.
Keep in mind that a small amount of juice consumed could go a long way, especially for children. The guidelines do not support offering fruit juices and juice beverages to children under 12 months. For children age 1 and older, offer small amounts and monitor your child's bowel movements. Reduce the amount or stop offering juice when you notice any signs and symptoms of diarrhea present. Current dietary guidelines recommend that young children drink no more than 4 fluid ounces of juice per day.
If your child is older than 6 months, you can offer sips of water up to a total of 4 to 8 fluid ounces daily. Children younger than 6 months should receive only breastmilk and/or infant formula to ensure they remain hydrated for soft stools.
Best Dried Fruits for Constipation
Eating dried fruits is another strategy to prevent and ease constipation. You may be better off eating certain types, such as dried figs and prunes.
A 1/4-cup serving of dried figs contains about 4 grams of fiber, which is comparable to the fiber found in one medium grapefruit. Oddly enough, prunes, also known as dried plums, a common remedy for treating constipation, contain 1 gram less fiber than dried figs for the same portion size. Nevertheless, prunes are still a potent cure for constipation, since their fiber adds bulk and weight to stools, improving bowel frequency and consistency.
Remember that dried fruits have water removed, leaving them high in calories and sugar. Eat them in moderation to minimize the risk of weight gain and associated chronic diseases.
Eating fiber-rich fruits is an effective home remedy solution to prevent and ease constipation. Some 100% fruit juices (with no added sugar) and dried fruits may also promote regular bowel movements. When eating fiber-rich foods, make sure that you drink plenty of water to keep stools soft and easy to pass.