SAN DIEGO, April 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- New research presented this week at Experimental Biology 2016 (EB 2016) expands on the current body of evidence supporting the link between dried plums (prunes) and bone health in post-menopausal women, and the effect of dried plums on reducing colon cancer risk in an animal model. The findings align with previous studies that have discovered dried plums' benefits on both bone and colon health.
Eating dried plums linked to greater retention of bone density in postmenopausal women
Previous research discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 10-12) of dried plums daily for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the extent to which participants on the dried plum intervention were able to retain BMD compared to those who received the comparative control food.
"Healthy bones are vital to overall wellbeing," says Bahram Arjmandi, PhD, RD, Margaret A. Sitton Professor and Director of the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging at Florida State University. "The evidence continues to grow and support the fact that incorporating dried plums as a regular part of a nutritious diet seems to offer long-term bone health benefits, particularly in postmenopausal women."
Another previously published study discovered that eating just 50 grams (slightly more than one serving; about 5 to 6) of dried plums daily for six months prevented the loss of total BMD compared to the control group, attributed in part to the inhibition of bone resorption.
Diet containing dried plums may positively affect short chain fatty acids and genes involved in colon cancer development in rats
Results from another study presented at EB 2016 discovered that dried plums positively affected the expression of genes involved in microbiota interactions and potentially the production and/or absorption of short chain fatty acids from the intestine, which may explain how dried plums led to decreased colon cancer lesions in a previous study conducted by the same researchers.
This previous research exploring cancer-protective properties of dried plums in rats showed that a diet containing dried plums affected microbiota throughout the colon. Dried plums appeared to promote retention of beneficial microbiota, and researchers believe this may be responsible for the reduced numbers of precancerous lesions observed.
"While additional research is needed, emerging research suggests dried plums promote retention of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, which may be protective against the risk of colon cancer," says Nancy Turner, PhD, Research Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Texas A&M University. "This new study gives us additional insight into the effectiveness of dried plums in prevention of colon cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined."
Additional Bone Health Research on Benefits of Dried Plums
Research also suggests that dried plums may support heart health, digestive health, immunity and healthy aging. Most recently, scientists published new animal research in Scientific Reports suggesting that dried plums may help to prevent bone loss in those exposed to radiation, such as astronauts in space. Researchers observed that the dried plum powder was the most effective in reducing undesired bone marrow cells' responses to radiation compared to the other antioxidant or anti-inflammatory interventions - including an antioxidant cocktail, dihydrolipoic acid (antioxidant) and ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) - on mice that received radiation. Additionally, the researchers observed that mice on the dried plum diet did not exhibit decrements (bone volume loss) after exposure to radiation in any of the structural parameters measured, suggesting that dried plums may serve as an effective intervention for bone loss due to unavoidable exposure to space radiation or radiation therapy.
Dried Plum Research at EB 2016
The breadth of dried plum nutrition research extends to two additional studies that will be presented at EB 2016. The titles of these studies include:
- Dried Plum Consumption Improves Antioxidant Capacity and Reduces Inflammation in Postmenopausal Women. M. Nakamichi-Lee, S. Hooshmand, M. Kern, A. Ahouraei, M.Y. Hong. Sch. of Exer. & Nutr. Sci., San Diego State Univ.
- Proteomic Analysis of Human Serum of Osteopenic Women after Dried Plum Treatment. F. Lee, M. Ghassemian, S. Schenk, M. Kern, S. Hooshmand. San Diego State Univ. and UCSD.
About The California Dried Plum Board (CDPB): The CDPB represents 900 dried plum growers and 26 dried plum packers under the authority of the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture. Revered as part of California's rich history, the dried plum remains a vital player in California's economic wealth. California produces 99 percent of the United States' and 42 percent of the world's supply of dried plums, a convenient, healthy snack for today's busy lifestyle. CDPB provided partial funding and dried plum products for the various studies. For more research information, and to find recipes and videos, visit www.californiadriedplums.org and www.eatdriedplums.com. Follow the CDPB on https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDriedPlums and https://twitter.com/CaDriedPlums.
 Hooshmand S, et al. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2011 Sep;106(6):923-30
 Arjmandi BH, et al. Dried Plum Consumption and Bone Mineral Density Retention in Postmenopausal Women: a Follow-up Study. Abstract.
 Hooshmand S, et al. The effect of two doses of dried plum on bone density and bone biomarkers in osteopenic postmenopausal women: a randomized, controlled trial. Osteoporosis Int. 2016 Feb; 1-9.
 Seidel DV, et al. Dried Plums Modify Fecal Short Chain Fatty Acid Concentrations and Gene Expression
in a Rat Model of Colon Carcinogenesis. Abstract.
 Seidel DV, et al. Dried Plums Modify Colon Microbiota Composition And Spatial Distribution, And Protect Against Chemically-Induced Carcinogenesis. The FASEB Journal. 2015 April; 29:394.7.
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SOURCE California Dried Plum Board