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Dried Plums Reduce Osteoporosis Risk, Benefit Bone Health


Eating dried plums—formerly known as prunes—can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis or fractures among postmenopausal women, according to a report in the British Journal of Nutrition. Adding dried plums to the diet is something every woman—and man—can do to help cut their risk of osteoporosis, regardless of age.

Dried plums beat other fruits for bone health

Dried plums are “exceptional” when it comes to bone health, according to professor Bahram H. Arjmandi, of Florida State University, who has tested figs, strawberries, dates, and other fruits over the years. “None of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have,” he noted.

Arjmandi and his team, along with colleagues from Oklahoma State University, enrolled postmenopausal women into the study and divided them into two groups: one group of 55 women consumed 100 grams of dried plums (about 10) daily, and the second group of 35 ate 500 grams of dried apples daily. Both groups of women also took 500 mg of calcium and 400 IUs of vitamin D daily. The study lasted for 12 months.

At the end of 12 months, women who ate dried plums had considerably greater bone mineral density in the ulna (long bone in the forearm) and spine compared with women who ate dried apples. Dried plum also significantly reduced the serum levels of substances that breakdown bone, including bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-5b. Therefore, Arjmandi explained that dried plums may suppress the breakdown of bone, which occurs at a faster rate than new bone growth as people grow older.

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In a previous study, published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2010, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that dried plum supplemented in the diets of adult and old male mice. Their findings suggested that dried plums contain “proanabolic factors that can dramatically increase bone volume and restore bone that has already been lost due to aging.”

Dried plums are also a fairly good source of nutrients necessary for healthy bone. A 100-gram serving of dried plums provides 74% of the percent daily value of vitamin K, 10% of magnesium, and 15% of manganese.

Arjmandi’s advice is “don’t wait until you get a fracture or you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and have to have prescribed medicine.” For better bone health, he recommends gradually adding dried plums to your diet until you reach 6 to 10 daily. Dried plums can be eat as a snack, added to oatmeal and other cereals, added to fruit salads and trail mix, and included in a variety of recipes.

Halloran BP et al. Journal of Nutrition 2010 Oct; 140(10): 1781-87
Hooshmanda S et al. British Journal of Nutrition doi: 10.1017/S000711451100119X

Picture credit: USDA/ARS