Research Suggests That Prunes May Be Good for Bone Health

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In a review of previous studies, it was confirmed that consumption of prunes can help in preventing or delaying bone loss in postmenopausal women, perhaps because of their capability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which play a role in bone loss.Study Reference: DOI

Reduced estrogen levels can trigger a rise of inflammation and oxidative stress in postmenopausal women, raising the risk of weakening bones that could lead to fractures. Adding prunes to the diet could help in protecting bones by reversing or slowing this process.

Osteoporosis is a disorder in which bones become brittle or weak and can happen to anyone at any age but is most common in women older than 50. The issue affects over 200 million women around the world, resulting in nearly 9 million fractures annually.

Although prescription drugs are available for treating osteoporosis, there's an increasing interest in approaches to treat the disorder with nutrition. Vegetables and fruit that are abundant in bioactive compounds like carotenoids, flavonoids and phenolic acid can potentially help in protecting against osteoporosis, with prunes especially getting attention in prior research.

Adult bones are maintained by processes that are constantly building new bone cells while removing the old bone cells. This breaking down of old cells however starts outpacing the formation of new ones after the age of 40. This can be due to numerous factors such as inflammation and oxidative stress, which is when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. Prunes have a lot of nutritional benefits like dietary fiber, vitamin K, minerals, and phenolic compounds, all of which may be able to help counter a number of these effects.

For the review, data was analyzed from 16 preclinical rodent model studies, 10 preclinical studies, and 2 clinical trials. The researchers uncovered evidence from the studies that consuming prunes helped in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation as well as promoting bone health.

The clinical trials revealed that consuming 100 grams of prunes every day for 1 year improved bone mineral density of bones in the lower spine and forearm and reduced signs of bone turnover.

Consuming 50 or 100 grams of prunes every day for 6 months prevented loss of total bone mineral density and reduced a marker of bone resorption known as TRAP-5b in comparison to women who didn’t eat prunes.

Overall, the studies indicate prunes could help in reducing bone loss, which might be as a result of altered bone turnover and by the inhibition of inflammation and suppression of oxidative stress markers.

A potential mechanism for the bone loss reduction effects is that prunes trigger a change in the gut microbiome that then reduces colon inflammation. This could subsequently reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and oxidative damage markers.

Originally published at: AHealthBlog

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