Dried plums as treatment for osteoporosis

There has been quite a bit of research in the last few years showing that prunes are effective in both preventing and reversing bone loss in osteoporotic and osteopenic women.  One recent study compared dried plums to dried apples and found that in this population of 160 postmenopausal osteopenic women, both dried apple and dried plums had bone-protective effects, but in the plum group, bone density of the spine and ulna was significantly increased compared to the apple group. 

How do plums do this?  It is thought that they slow down the rate at which bones breakdown (bones are living tissue and are contantly being broken down and rebuilt).  The researchers tested several markers of bone turnover, bone resorption and an inflammatory marker and found them all to be significantly lower than the other group at the 3 and 12 month mark. This study follows many animal studies that confirm that dried plum is able to reverse bone loss in several models of osteoporosis in rats and increase markers of bone formation in humans after only 3 months.

So what does this mean for you?  If you’re at risk of osteoporosis – over 65, family history of an osteoporotic fracture, have a low body weight, low calcium intake, experienced menopause early and others you may want to consider eating about 10 prunes every day.  They are also a great source of fibre, potassium, magnesium, boron and antioxidants.  Don’t forget that this is only one piece of the puzzle – it is important to have a complete look at your diet and lifestyle to see what vitamins and minerals may be lacking and how to optimize your exercise program.