Eating dried plums (aka prunes) can have a profound effect on bone health, with a proven ability to protect density and avoid its loss, research at Florida State University shows.
“Over my career, I have tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have,” says nutrition researcher Bahram H. Arjmandi, chair of FSU’s Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences.
“All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional,” he explains.
Dr. Arjmandi and a group of researchers from Florida State and Oklahoma State University tested two groups of postmenopausal women. According to their report in The British Journal of Nutrition, over a 12-month period:
• The first group, consisting of 55 women, was instructed to consume 100 grams of dried plums (about 10 prunes) each day,
• While the second - a comparative control group of 45 women - was told to consume 100 grams of dried apples.
• All of the study’s participants also received daily doses of calcium (500 milligrams) and vitamin D (400 international units) [bone formation essentials].
The group that consumed dried plums had significantly higher bone mineral density in the ulna (one of two long bones in the forearm) and spine, in comparison with the control group that ate dried apples.
This, according to Dr. Arjmandi, was due in part to the ability of dried plums to suppress the rate of bone resorption, or the breakdown of bone, which tends to exceed the rate of new bone growth as people age. [See video with a trial participant’s description of results.]
“In the first five to seven postmenopausal years, women are at risk of losing bone at a rate of 3% to 5% per year,” Dr. Arjmandi says. But “around the age of 65, men start losing bone with the same rapidity as women.” So about 8 million women and 2 million men in the US have osteoporosis.
“Don’t wait until you get a fracture or you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and have to have prescribed medicine. Do something meaningful and practical beforehand,” Dr. Arjmandi says. Take note of the extraordinarily positive effect dried plums have on bone density, he urges.
“People could start eating 2 to 3 dried plums per day and increase gradually to perhaps 6 to 10 per day.”
Source: Florida State University news release, Aug 18, 2011
Note: For more on the nutritional benefits of dried plums, see the nonprofit World’s Healthiest Foods site (www.whfoods.org)