Bone mineral density (BMD) is known to decrease rapidly after menopause and women over the age of 50 are more likely to experience hip fractures, which commonly lead to hospitalization, diminished quality of life, loss of independence and shortened life span. According to a new paper published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, daily consumption of prunes (dried plums; Prunus domestica) preserves BMD at the hip and protects against increased fracture risk in postmenopausal women.
The prevalence of osteoporosis among women aged 50 years and older is expected to reach 13.6 million by 2030.
Alternative non-pharmaceutical agents for osteoporosis, including nutritional interventions, are becoming increasingly popular.
Previous clinical trials in osteopenic postmenopausal women have shown the promising effects that daily prune consumption can have on preventing bone loss.
“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,” said Professor Mary Jane De Souza, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University.
“Our data support the use of prunes to protect the hip from bone loss post menopause.”
“Indeed, these data may be especially valuable for postmenopausal women who cannot take pharmacological therapy to combat bone loss and need an alternative strategy.”
In the study, Professor De Souz and colleagues analyzed data from 235 postmenopausal women.
The results showed that women who consumed 50 grams of prunes (5-6 prunes) a day for one year maintained hip BMD while those who ate no prunes (control group) lost significant bone mass at the hip.
Furthermore, hip fracture risk went up in the control group compared to the prune eaters who were protected from any increases in fracture risk.
“Just a handful of prunes can easily be added to anyone’s lifestyle,” said California Prune Board’s nutrition advisor Dr. Andrea 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.”
Janhavi J. Damani et al. The Role of Prunes in Modulating Inflammatory Pathways to Improve Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women. Advances in Nutrition, published online January 3, 2022; doi: 10.1093/advances/nmab162
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