This One Dried Fruit Can Help Build Stronger Bones

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

When most of us think of prunes, which is what we call dried plums, we immediately think of remedies for constipation, because these little dried fruits work wonders when it comes to loosening up the bowels. But research that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that these little super sweet fruits are terrific when it comes to our bones as well as our bowels!

First, it was all about calcium. Then they told us we needed more vitamin D. Then we had to engage in weight-bearing exercise to have strong bones. Well, none of that has changed, but if you really want to ensure that you are doing your utmost to keep your bones strong and hard, there is one little trick that can keep your bones strong and healthy for a lifetime.

Florida State University’s Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences found that prunes were one of the most effective ways of preventing, and even reversing, bone loss. This study involved 236 women who had gone through menopause between one and ten years earlier. These women were not on any type of hormone replacement or taking any prescription drugs that would influence the bones. These women were divided into two groups. The first group at 100 grams of prunes, the other group received 100 grams of dried apples. Both groups also received 500 mgs of calcium and 400 IU of Vitamin D every day.

Scientists looked at the bone mineral density of these subjects both before and at the end of this study, as well as blood samples of the bone health markers. This study discovered that those who consumed the prunes had much higher levels of bone mineral density than the group who consumed dried apples. Only the group who consumed the dried plums had a decrease in the bone markers that are linked to a breakdown of bone density.

When you consider that between 5.1 and 5.7 million people in the US are taking prescription medication to increase their bone density or to prevent bone loss, this is huge news! How much easier can it be to maintain strong bones then chomping on a few pieces of dried fruit every day?!

Preventing the breakdown of bone is easier than trying to reverse bone loss so the results of this study are significant. Eating a few dried plums daily can both prevent and reverse bone loss.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

By the way, even though the women in these studies were consuming about 200 more calories in prunes every day, they did not gain any weight nor did their BMI increase. This might be due to the increased fiber that prunes contain.

The British Journal of Nutrition had similar results. This study used 160 post-menopausal women who had low bone mineral density, but not quite enough so that they were diagnosed with having osteoporosis. This study also found that eating prunes could both prevent and reverse bone loss by limiting  the production of compounds in the body that cause the depletion of bone. In this study, the women ate a normal diet but also consumed 10 prunes every day for one year.

Both dried plums and fresh plums have long been known to increase iron absorption in the body as well as boosting vitamin C levels. Prunes and plums have been shown in similar studies to improve weight loss, lower cholesterol levels as well as normalize blood sugar levels.

Prunes are also loaded in vitamin C, K, boron, and are super high in antioxidants, which stop the damage that free radicals cause. Prunes are actually higher in boron than most fruits, which play an important role in preserving bone density. Boron converts vitamin D to an active form, which helps the body utilize calcium for the formation of bone.  Vitamin K also influences overall bone health by promoting the normalization of bone mineral and improving the balance of calcium.

In addition to vitamins, prunes are loaded with carotenoids that have been shown to be proven disease fighters including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, anthocyanins, phenols, and proanthocyanins. In fact, prunes have a higher level of antioxidant activity than blueberries.

 

SEE ALSO: 14 Benefits Of Antioxidants Infographic

 

It’s thought that rune can improve bone mass by slowing the rate at of bone turnover. Authors of these studies believe that prunes can improve bone health by slowing the rate of bone resorption more so than bone formation.

Prunes also reduce inflammation in the body, which might be another reason that they improve bone health. Inflammation is the root cause of so many health problems, so anything natural that you can consume that will limit inflammation, as well as improve bone mass, is worth eating more of!

There have been numerous fruits tested over the years, including figs, raisins, strawberries, and dates, but none have had the effect on bone density that prunes have had. Although all fruits and vegetables have their place in terms of nutrition, when speaking about bone health, you can’t beat prunes.

References:

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov