“Can prunes reverse bone loss?” asked Scientific American in March 2017. As it turns out, prunes may have benefits beyond the bathroom.
“There’s preliminary data from test-tube and animal studies that the polyphenols in prunes are beneficial to bone,” says Mary Jane De Souza, a professor of kinesiology and physiology at Penn State University.
What about evidence in people? Two studies—one supported by the California Dried Plum Board—have looked. Both reported that postmenopausal women who were given about 6 or 12 prunes a day lost less bone after six months or a year than those who got dried apple or no fruit at all.1,2
“But the studies were small, and some of the bone data was presented in a non-traditional way,” says De Souza. For example, the papers reported the ratio of change in the participants’ bone density, which is unusual, but not the actual density. That makes the data difficult to interpret.
“But the data look promising because the women who were eating prunes lost less bone than the other groups,” she says.
De Souza is doing a one-year study on 200 postmenopausal women, also funded by the California Dried Plum Board.
“We’re looking at bone mineral density, structure, and strength,” she says. “Density tells you how much bone is there, but structure and strength tell you how good it is.”
Bottom Line: Ongoing research will shed more light on whether prunes benefit bones. While you’re waiting, keep in mind that 6 to 12 prunes means about 120 to 240 calories.
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