If you need yet another reason to increase your intake of nutrient-rich fruits, here’s one.
Consuming four to five prunes each day may help prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women, according to a manuscript released this month by Taylor C. Wallace, a professor in George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services.
The beneficial effects of dried plums on bone health could relate to the phenolics, a type of antioxidant, found in fruits, Wallace said.
A handful of small clinical studies show that prunes may have beneficial effects on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
Other studies indicate prunes and their extracts may enhance bone formation and prevent bone breakdown in women because of their actions on cell signaling pathways that influence bone cell development and health.
Four to five prunes may seem like a lot of fruit, but Wallace said it’s really not.
“It’s only one serving [of fruit]. Our national dietary guidelines suggest adults get two servings of fruit per day,” he said.
Still, when prunes are mentioned, the response is often a contorted face.
“I had the same mentality until I tried them,” Wallace said. “I actually think they taste great and snack on them throughout the day.”
If prunes are a no-go, then plums, the prune in its natural hydrated form, will do the same job, he added.
Larger clinical trials are still needed to confirm the effects, Wallace said. The data is fairly convincing that dried plums strengthen your bones, but whether that equals prevention of actual fractures in the population is not currently known. Future population studies assessing prune intake and fractures are needed to confirm their beneficial effects on bone.
For his manuscript, “Dried Plums, Prunes and Bone Health: A Comprehensive Review,” Wallace looked at the existing scientific literature on the subject. It can be found in the journal “Nutrients.”