Bone mineral density (BMD) at the hip is known to decrease rapidly after menopause, causing women older than 50 more likely to experience hip fractures, which often lead to hospitalization, loss of independence, diminished quality of life, and shorter life span. A new study led by Pennsylvania State University has found that daily prunes consumption could significantly increase bone health and reduce the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women.
By investigating a cohort of 235 postmenopausal women, the scientists found that those who consumed 50 grams of prunes (5-6 prunes) a day for one year maintained hip BMD, while those from a control group who ate no prunes lost significant bone mass. Moreover, hip fracture risk increased in the participants from the control group, while remaining stable among the prune eaters.
“It is exciting that the data from our large randomized controlled trial in postmenopausal women showed that consuming 5 to 6 prunes a day demonstrated the benefit of protecting from bone loss at the hip,” reported study lead author Mary Jane De Souza, a professor of Physiology and Kinesiology at Penn State.
“Our data supports the use of prunes to protect the hip from bone loss post menopause. Indeed, this data may be especially valuable for postmenopausal women who cannot take pharmacological therapy to combat bone loss and need an alternative strategy.”
Prunes are nutrient-dense fruits, containing a powerful mix of vitamins and nutrients known to improve bone mass, such as boron, potassium, copper, or vitamin K. Moreover, they are also rich in phenolic compounds which have a marked antioxidant effect.
“Just a handful of prunes can easily be added to anyone’s lifestyle,” said California Prune Board’s Nutrition Advisor Andrea N. Giancoli. “Prunes pair with so many flavors and textures and work well for individualized nutrition plans. Mix them into salads, trail mixes, smoothies, savory dishes – you name it. The naturally sweet flavor of prunes makes them a versatile ingredient or convenient snack for anyone.”
The study findings were presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Disease, the most important clinical conference on bone, joint, and muscle health.