Studies Show How Prunes Help Prevent Osteoporosis Among Older Females

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Osteoporosis is a real problem, especially among the older generation. They say that all you need is a handful of prunes each day and you get the protection you need. This is according to a new research made by experts.

The body has a bone boosting hormone called oestrogen. The levels quickly drop for women after menopause sets in. This triggers an increase in inflammation in the body, and unfortunately, bone loss takes place during this time because of the changes that take place. However, it must be noted that dried plums contain vital chemicals that mimic the hormones the body loses.

Prunes are rich in antioxidants. This hampers inflammation and destroys the harmful free radicals roaming around the body. The women over 50 years old who regularly snacked on prunes were less likely to suffer from osteoporosis. This disease must be avoided because it leaves you with brittle bones that are prone to fractures.

Osteoporosis also affects around three million British adults, most of them women. In fact, statistics show that around 300,000 people suffer a ‘fragility fracture’ from a fall at standing height or less each year, which is shocking. This causes significant pain, disability, and more importantly, makes the patient more dependent on help. And more than 1,000 people die from the disease per month.

Previous research shows how prunes contain polyphenol extracts, which are plant compounds that act as antioxidants that are able to reduce inflammation. They also lower the levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in osteoclasts, a type of bone.

Researchers from the Integrative and Biomedical Physiology Program and the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University looked further into the effects of prunes on what happens to bone health after menopause sets in. They studied 235 women with a bone mineral density score that was defined as low. They were the first group to exhibit the benefits that comes with a simple dietary change.

The postmenopausal women had been divided into three groups:

  1. The first group ate 50 grams of prunes (around 6 prunes) each day for 12 months.
  2. The second group ate 100 g of prunes (about 12 prunes) each day for 12 months.
  3. The third is the control group who didn’t eat prunes.

The research team collected blood samples from the volunteers before and after the trial. They saw the significant reductions in inflammatory markers from the prune-eating groups. They compared the numbers to the ones collected from the control group.

Doctoral student Janhavi Damani is the first author of the study. He said, “Our findings suggest that consumption of six to 12 prunes per day may reduce pro-inflammatory mediators that may contribute to bone loss in postmenopausal women. Thus, prunes might be a promising nutritional intervention to prevent the rise in inflammatory mediators often observed as part of the aging process.”

Lead author Professor Mary Jane De Souza of Pennsylvania State University also shared, “It is exciting the data from our large randomised controlled trial in postmenopausal women showed consuming five to six prunes a day demonstrated the benefit of protecting from bone loss at the hip. Our data supports the use of prunes to protect the hip from bone loss post menopause.

She added, “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 have less than 100 calories per serving. They are a nutrient-dense fruit that comes power-packed with vitamins and nutrients. They also contain boron, potassium, copper and a mix of other healthy plant compounds that the bones can benefit from.

Prunes are considered to be a ‘superfood’ because they can better gut bacteria, slow down the aging process, and fight iron deficiency, diabetes, and heart disease.

The findings of the study have been published in Advances in Nutrition.