- Osteoporosis, or the loss of bone mass and density, affects many people, especially people over the age of 50, leading to an increased risk of fractures and breaks.
- A new randomized controlled study found that eating 5-6 prunes a day can preserve bone mass and density, which prevents the development of osteoporosis.
- The same researchers found, in a second study, that loss of bone health is associated with inflammatory processes in the body, and prunes are known to be anti-inflammatory.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which a person’s bones lose density and mass, making bones more likely to break. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundationabout 10 million Americans have the condition, and another 44 million lack bone density, putting them at risk for osteoporosis.
Half of women over the age of 50 are at increased risk of breaking a bone, and one in four men. Loss of bone mass and density can occur at any age. However, osteoporosis is most common among the elderly.
Osteoporosis occurs most often in postmenopausal women. In 2017-2018,
The bones of the hip, spinal vertebrae, and wrist are the most common sites of bone fractures due to osteoporosis, although they can occur in any bone. For older people, hip fractures can be very serious.
This is the second of a pair of studies by researchers at Penn State University in University Park, PA. The first, an observational study that has not yet been published, investigated an association between inflammatory markers and loss of bone mineral density, or BMD.
Principal investigator Dr. Mary Jane Souza tell Medical News Today:
“Our results show that higher levels of inflammatory markers were associated with lower levels
“Inflammation may be an important mediator of postmenopausal bone loss and a potential target for nutritional therapies,” Dr. Souza noted.
The research, funded by the Prune Board of California, was presented at the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in October 2022.
Dr. Souza explained that researchers have been looking at the links between prunes and bone health for many years.
“Our latest research represents the largest trial, with a cohort of over 200 post-menopausal women, to investigate the link between prunes and favorable bone health,” she said.
Dr. Souza said MNT that with the current larger randomized trial, they wanted to build on existing research “to validate and replicate findings from earlier smaller trials that showed that prunes may be a non-pharmacological dietary intervention that predicts promising for preserving bone and maintaining bone density and strength.”
“Our study is the first to show that consuming just 5-6 prunes a day prevented the loss of bone mineral density in the hip, the area of most concern for men and women who are going in old age because hip fractures often result in hospitalization, reduced quality of life. , and loss of independence.”
— Dr. Mary Jane Souza
“Prune eaters were also protected from an increased risk of hip fracture compared to non-prune eaters, whose fracture risk worsened,” she said.
The researchers also found “a similar trend in which bone strength is maintained at the tibia and volumetric cortical density maintained, while the control group showed a worsening of these parameters.”
The researchers divided participants into three groups. One person, the control group, did not eat prunes. Another group ate 5-6 prunes daily, and another group ate 10-12 prunes every day.
The benefit of prunes was evident at 5-6 a day, with no benefit from eating more.
“The main differences were that we had a much lower dropout rate in the 5-6 prunes per day group – 15% compared to a 41% dropout rate in the 10-12 prunes per day group,” said the Dr. Souza.
“Also, we saw that hip BMD was maintained in the 6 prunes/day group compared to the control group — a result not observed in the 10-12 prunes per day group. This result was noticeable within six months and… continued to month 12.”
— Dr. Mary Jane Souza
“We also noticed that the FRAX [Fracture Risk Assessment] total hip score did not increase in the female pooled group [containing both the 5-6 prunes a day group and the 10–12 prunes a day group] compared to the control group,” said Dr. Souza. This suggests that eating more prunes did not increase bone health.
“Although it is not necessarily clear exactly what is in prunes that exerts this beneficial effect on bone health, this whole fruit contains several vitamins and minerals that are important for bones, including boron, potassium, copper , and vitamin K. Prunes contain polyphenols – also bioactive. compounds that appear to play a role in bone formation,” said Dr. Souza.
She noted the anti-inflammatory effects of prunes, saying that they “have specifically studied this effect, and will report these results soon.”
“We are keen to continue this type of bone health research, and also expand investigations into the impact of prunes on the bone marrow axis, and what research may reveal about that connection,” she said. .
Michelle RouthensteinA cardiology dietitian at EntirelyNourished.com, who was not involved in the study, suggested Medical News Today additional ways to maintain healthy bones:
“Other dietary strategies that may help combat bone loss and support bone strength include adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K from food.”
“I would highly recommend getting calcium from food like sardines, yogurt, and collard greens. Other foods rich in vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium include edamame, and leafy greens such as Swiss chard and kale.
— Michelle Routhenstein
Routhenstein added that for those looking to use supplements to keep their bones healthy, she recommended “avoid high-dose calcium supplements over 500 mg because of its ability to cause calcification in the arteries.”
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