Next time you pass a package of prunes, think strong skeleton, not just constipation fixer. Then grab them with your finger bones and toss them in your cart. Snacking on a few of these little nuggets daily could help keep your bones sturdy and shatter-proof.
Why? Prunes (also known as dried plums) are filled with compounds called polyphenols that rebalance your bone-building cycle.
Think of your bones as a never-ending highway construction project. Microscopic segments are constantly being demolished and rebuilt by special crews. Over time, the rebuilding teams slack off, but the demolition crews keep working hard. Result: weaker bones as you age and more danger of breaks. Dried plums slow down the demolition, which lets the rebuilders catch up. That helps your bones.
Investigators at Florida State University suggest a dietary preventive strategy for osteoporosis. They conducted a year-long study in which 100 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to eat 100 grams of dried fruit daily – either dried plums or dried apples. Those who consumed prunes had denser bones in the forearm and the spine at the end of the study. Compounds in dried plums alter the way bones are remodeled. They are less likely to break down in the presence of these nutrients and in animal studies they have been shown to reverse bone loss.
The group’s research, has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
In the United States about 8 million women have osteoporosis because of the sudden cessation of ovarian hormone production at the onset of menopause. About 2 million men also have osteoporosis.
‘In the first five to seven post-menopausal years, women are at risk of losing bone at a rate of three to five percent per year,’ said Mr Arjmandi, Florida State professor and chairman of the U.S. Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences.
‘However, 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,’ he 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 be eaten in all forms and can be included in a variety of recipes.’
Caution: don’t overdo prunes. They may be full of polyphenols and fiber, but, like all dried fruit, they’re high in sugar . . . not to mention they can quickly turn constipation into diarrhea! So add three to five prunes a day to your regular strong-bones roster.