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Prunes: A surprising ally for bone health in postmenopausal women


While dairy products like milk and cheese are well-known for their bone-strengthening properties, recent research highlights an unexpected food that supports bone health: prunes.

Insights from recent research

A study published in Osteoporosis International followed 235 postmenopausal women over a year, examining the effects of daily prune consumption on bone health. Participants were divided into three groups: one consumed 50 grams of prunes daily, another 100 grams, and the last group adhered to their usual diet. Throughout the year, their bone density and structure were meticulously monitored through various scans.

Study findings

The findings revealed that consuming at least four to six prunes daily helped maintain bone density and strength, particularly in the cortical bone — the dense outer surface of bones. Moreover, those who included prunes in their diet preserved their hip bone mineral density, contrasting with the control group, which experienced over a 1% loss in bone density and strength.

However, it’s worth noting that the group consuming 10 to 12 prunes daily saw a higher dropout rate, suggesting that while beneficial, such a quantity may be excessive for some.

Potential mechanisms behind prunes’ benefits

Mary Jane De Souza, PhD, a professor at Penn State and the study’s senior author, explained that prunes’ benefits might stem from their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, prunes influence the gut microbiome, which could indirectly affect bone health. Prunes are also rich in vitamin K, which is essential for directing calcium to the bones, and contain bone-supportive minerals like potassium and magnesium.

Overall, the study, funded by the California Prune Board, suggests that incorporating prunes into one’s daily diet could be an effective strategy for preserving bone health, especially around the hip area.