SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- One in two women and up to one in four men over age 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.1 While bone health may not top the list of common health concerns, the risk is real. In fact, for women, the chance of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.1 Various lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise, can help to prevent osteoporosis, which is actually not considered a normal part of aging. And new research, published in Osteoporosis International, highlights the important role that one specific fruit - dried plums (prunes) - might play in strengthening bones.
A daily serving of dried plums may prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women
This new, clinical trial expands on the increasing body of evidence suggesting that dried plums help support healthy bones in postmenopausal women. Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 10 to 12 dried plums) of dried plums for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women2. The objective of this current study was to examine whether 50 grams (slightly more than one serving; about 5 to 6 dried plums) would be as effective as the larger dose. The results indicate that one serving of dried plums may be as effective in preventing bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women.
This new research is compelling because women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density during the five to seven years following menopause.3 "Participants from our study maintained their bone mineral density by eating 5 to 6 dried plums per day, which is a very exciting finding as this can easily be achieved by snacking on dried plums or incorporating them into recipes." says Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, the lead researcher on the study and associate professor at the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University.
Dr. Hooshmand's latest research adds to a series of studies that link dried plums to bone health. 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 from the University of California, San Francisco and Veterans Affairs, University of California, Irvine and Texas A&M University looked at the effect of various antioxidant or anti-inflammatory interventions – including an antioxidant cocktail, dihydrolipoic acid (antioxidant), ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory), dried plum powder (antioxidant) and a control – on mice that received radiation. Researchers observed that the dried plum powder was the most effective in reducing undesired bone marrow cells' responses to radiation compared to the other interventions.
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.
Healthy bones are vital to overall well-being. Emerging research suggests that vitamin K and magnesium may be as important as calcium and vitamin D for bone health.4 In fact, a standard serving of dried plums (4 to 5 prunes, about 100 calories) is considered an excellent source of Vitamin K, and provides 30 percent of the 80mcg Daily Value.
Turn dried plums into your staple culinary ingredient and snack
In addition to bone health benefits, dried plums are also a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. California dried plums can be enjoyed straight out of the bag for an on-the-go snack or as a perfect balance to a healthy lunch. Dried plums act as a flavor enhancer which and can be used in a range of dishes from sweet to savory. They add moisture to meat and baked entrees and improve the texture and taste of sauces and marinades; as well as act as a substitute for fats and sugar when cooking or baking. California dried plums are a convenient and tasty way to liven up meals.
California Dried Plum Board (CDPB): The CDPB represents 900 dried plum growers and 22 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 41 percent of the world's supply of dried plums, a convenient, healthy snack for today's busy lifestyle. Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, is a spokesperson for the CDPB. Dr. Hooshmand's studies were partially funded by the CDPB and California dried plums were provided to participants.
1 May is National Osteoporosis Month. (2015, May) Retrieved from http://nof.org/nationalosteoporosismonth.
2 Hooshmand et al. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2011 Sep; 106(6):923-30.
3 What Women Need to Know. (2015, February) Retrieved from http://nof.org/articles/235.
4 The Nutrition Source: Vitamin K. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-k/ & Weber P. Vitamin K and Bone Health. Nutrition. 2001 Oct;17(10):880-7.
SOURCE California Dried Plum Board