In addition to adequate calcium, vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise, there is now one more tool in our arsenal to prevent bone loss. Well known for helping to keep your bowels happy and healthy, who would have guessed that a handful of wrinkled and crinkled dried wonders could help prevent one of the world’s most serious health concerns?
Researchers at Florida State University have confirmed that daily consumption of prunes suppresses the rate of bone turnover and improves bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. According to Bahram H. Arjmandi, who has been studying the effects of prunes on bone density for the past decade, “All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional."
The big question now is exactly how many prunes do you have to consume to reap these benefits? Too much of a good thing is not without consequences. The initial research showed positive results on bone density with daily intake of 10 to 12 prunes per day; still a bit too much to swallow for the average consumer -- and prune juice doesn’t count.
Fear not, better news may be on the horizon. Arjmandi’s protégé, Shirin Hooshmand, has continued the research at San Diego State and her preliminary findings suggest that improvement could be seen with as few as five to six prunes per day, although a larger clinical trial is still needed.
The California Prune marketing gurus have been working diligently to rebrand the prune to make it more appealing to the public. In 2001, the FDA officially changed the name from prune to dried plum after the grower’s industry made a convincing argument that the fruit needed an image overhaul. Recently, the savory flavor of the dried plum has caught the attention of the culinary community so recipes from fruit soup to dried plum chocolate truffles should help make eating this healthful food a bit more enticing.
Bottom Line: Eat five to six prunes per day as part of your plan to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Written by: Wendimere Reilly, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern