Hooray for old prunes

As women age and their oestrogen levels naturally drop, they are at risk of an increased bone loss which can eventually result in osteoporosis – brittle bone disease. An interesting study tested the effect of daily prune consumption on postmenopausal women’s bone health over a period of six months. They were otherwise healthy and not on hormone replacement therapy.

Women were divided into three groups:  50g (5-6 pieces) of prunes daily, 100g (10-12 pieces) and no prunes at all.  Their bone density was measured at the start of the study and at the end and their blood biomarkers of bone metabolism, hormones, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D levels were also measured. The results showed that either dose of prunes was equally able to prevent bone loss compared with the no-prune control group.

The exact mechanisms by which prunes affect bone are still unknown but and the study’s blood test results along with other research indicate that prunes may be able to slow down bone loss by modulating the activity of cells in the bones.

Prunes are a healthy snack for anyone and a 50g dose provides on average: 1.3g protein, 3.5g fibre, 17-22mg calcium, 12mg magnesium and 1.3mg iron. They are also rich in vitamin K and boron, both essential for healthy bones, as well as antioxidants.

Hooshmand et al., 2016. The effect of two doses of dried plum on bone density and bone biomarkers in osteopenic postmenopausal women: a randomized, controlled trial. Osteoporosis International. 27 (7) 2271-2279.