Eat Prunes to Prevent Osteoporosis!


Several studies have shown a positive effect of dried prunes on bone density. 
Bones are active, living tissues constantly being remodelled whereby old bone is broken down and replaced with new bone.  When these two processes get out of balance and old bone is broken down faster than it is built up, the bone gradually become thinner. This is called osteoporosis; it can be a serious condition causing life changing fractures in the elderly. 
Famous for their fiber content prunes are also a rich source of polyphenolic compounds. These compounds have good antioxidant properties and influence cell-to-cell signalling which research shows has a positive effect on bone density. 
A well done (blinded and placebo controlled) human study published in 2011 in the British Journal of Nutrition confirmed the results of earlier rat studies.  The effects on bone density of prunes or a placebo was compared in 160 postmenopausal women not receiving any other therapy for osteoporosis. 
For one year half ate 100 grams a day of prunes (10 to 12 prunes), while the placebo group ate 100 grams a day of dried apple.  Both groups had DEXA scans (a test for bone density) at the beginning and end of the study. Blood samples for bone breakdown by-products were also collected at the beginning and throughout the study. At the end of the study bone density had significantly increased in the group eating prunes.  The blood markers of bone breakdown also were significantly lower in the prune group.
These initial studies are very promising, prunes are a healthy snack and breakfast food with a low GI (slow sugar release). The only down side might be the financial cost, 100 grams of organic prunes per day would cost £300 a year, but if we all did it we could bring down the price :-) 
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