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Building Stronger Bones – Got Prunes?

Prunes Help With Bone LossPrunes may not be at the top of your list when you think of building stronger bones, but maybe they should be. Dried plum (prunes) are not only great tasting and versatile, but they are an easy way to increase bone health without any adverse effects.

According to researchers at Florida State University, when it comes to improving bone health, eating dried plums is a simple, proactive solution to help prevent fractures and osteoporosis.

“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,” said Bahram H. Arjmandi, Florida State’s Margaret A. Sitton Professor and chairman of the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at the College of Human Sciences. “All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional.”

Now before you stop reading guys, bone loss isn’t just a problem facing woman. We often think of men as having bigger, stronger bones, but it’s not always the case. In the United States, about 8 million women have osteoporosis, which is believed to be due to the sudden cessation of ovarian hormone production at the onset of menopause. In addition, about 2 million men also have osteoporosis, and another 12 million men are at risk.

Arjmandi and a group of researchers from Florida State and Oklahoma State University tested two groups of postmenopausal women. 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).

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 group that ate dried apples. Arjmandi believes this is because prunes suppress the rate of bone breakdown that occurs as people age. The group’s research was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Prunes Prevent OsteoporosisArjmandi says women are at risk of losing bone at a rate of 3 to 5 percent per year in the first five to seven years after menopause, but he added, “Osteoporosis is not exclusive to women and, indeed, around the age of 65, men start losing bone with the same rapidity as women.”

Arjmandi encourages people who are interested in maintaining or improving their bone health to take note of the extraordinarily positive effect that dried plums have on bone density.

“Don’t wait until you get a fracture or you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and have to have prescribed medicine,” Arjmandi said. “Do something meaningful and practical beforehand. People could start eating two to three dried plums per day and increase gradually to perhaps six to 10 per day.”

Prunes can easily be incorporated into a variety of recipes and are a delicious snack all by themselves. “I like to add dried plums to hot or cold cereals, on turkey or chicken salad sandwiches or as an afternoon snack,” says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D. director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, “not only do they add nutritional value but they’re an easy way to boost flavor.”


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