Woman holding bowl of prunes rich in polyphenols and vitamin K that may help maintain healthy bones

Eating Prunes May Lead to Better Bones

Eating Prunes May Lead to Better Bones

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

Prunes are well-known for being an excellent source of fiber and can help keep things "moving along" your digestive tract. But according to a new review published in Advances in Nutrition, dried plums may also help keep you moving, dancing, jumping, or even somersaulting, because they support bone health.

A comprehensive review of several preclinical and clinical studies showed that increasing intake of prunes confers bone-protective effects. The wrinkly purple fruits also may help prevent or delay bone loss and osteoporosis. What's more, research suggests prunes can act as a dietary intervention to help support bone mineral density in osteopenic postmenopausal women.

Prunes and bone health: what’s the connection?

Prunes or dried plums have a unique nutritional profile, according to the research. Not only do prunes prevent bone resorption in preclinical studies—osteoclast activity where specialized cells remove bone tissue—but they also show anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which may help maintain bone density.

What gives dried plums these bone-supporting powers? The research suggests it's the variety of polyphenol compounds in dried plums which may, in part, be responsible for the bone-friendly, osteoporosis-preventing benefits of the fruit. Preclinical studies have shown that increased intake of dried plums or their extracts can enhance bone health by regulating bone breakdown and bone formation pathways, promoting healthy bone mineral density.

How many prunes strengthen your bones?

Clinical studies of postmenopausal women have found that one to two servings of dried plums per day may slow down the rate of bone turnover and help improve bone mineral density, confirming its bone protective effects.

So, what does one to two servings of dried plums mean? This depends on the type of dried plums, because some prunes are bigger than others. The researchers found that 50 to 100 g of prunes a day (about five or ten plums) is enough to reap the bone-protecting benefits of dried plums and potentially prevent bone loss—even one serving a day (five to six dried plums) showed to be beneficial.

Are prunes good for your bones?

Healthy bones start with proper nutrition. Incorporating nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods into your meals is one of the cornerstones of bone health. And prunes are loaded with vitamin K, a star player in bone metabolism.

Dried plums are also an excellent source of nutrients such as vitamins A, B6, and C, and minerals like manganese, copper, and iron—essential nutrients your body needs to keep you healthy. And, of course, they also help support sturdy bones and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Plus, the savory-sweet taste of prunes makes them an excellent choice to satisfy sugar cravings, and combining them with vitamin D-rich foods is a great way to boost those benefits.

Pro-tip: Have a few prunes with a glass of orange juice to boost the bone-friendly benefits—orange juice is fortified with vitamin D, another key player in bone health.

Do prunes improve bone density?

When we're young and growing, our bodies make new bone tissue faster than they break down old bone tissue—it's the process of bone mineralization. However, at around 30 years old, our bones have reached their peak bone mass where bone upkeep continues, but the new-to-old bone ratio slows down.

Bone loss occurs over time. It results from an imbalance in the activity of those specialized bone cells that break down old tissue (osteoclasts) and replace it with new bone tissue (osteoblasts). Nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin D, and calcium are essential for maintaining this bone-formation process and supporting bone health.

The high amounts of vitamin K2 in California prunes, for example, may help increase bone density, potentially reducing the risk of fractures. And thanks to the bone protective effects of dried plums, increasing your prune intake may give your body the nutrients it needs to support that process, maintaining bone health.

Can prunes help prevent osteoporosis?

About 20 percent of American women and 5 percent of American men ages 50 and older experience osteoporosis. It's a bone condition where bone mass is reduced, resulting in fragile bones and an increased fracture risk even from minor bumps and falls.

Unfortunately, osteoporosis progresses slowly, so you may not know you have low bone density (osteopenia) or porous bones (osteoporosis) until you hit your arm on the kitchen counter and need to see a doctor.

That's why maintaining bone health is so important—and a lot easier than managing a more severe health concern.

3 ways to support bone health

Keeping your bones healthy also depends on your day-to-day routine. Aside from upping your prune intake, here are three other ways to help you keep your bones in top-notch health.

  1. Go green for bone health.

    If you ever needed a reason to pile up on veggies, here is one: leafy greens and vegetables are terrific for your bones. They're a great source of vitamin C, which is needed to regulate the bone-forming process. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties, which may confer bone protective effects.
  2. Exercise to keep moving.

    Performing strength training and weightlifting exercises at least twice a week can help you build and maintain bone mass by promoting the formation of new bone and protecting against low bone density. Plus, resistance training also helps you target and tone large muscle groups, so it's a win-win. The best part? You don't have to spend hours at the gym to get the bone (and whole-body) benefits of exercise. Just 35 minutes a day for at least five days a week is all it takes!
  3. Stay hydrated.

    Did you know that bone mass is made up of about 20 percent water by volume? This means that if you're not staying adequately hydrated, bones can become weaker and more brittle. Aim for at least two liters a day to maintain your bones' strength. Pro-tip: Adding fruits like berries or lemon slices to your water can make it easier to drink more water throughout the day.

It's never too early to lead a bone-healthy lifestyle. You can be proactive and help your body maintain strong, healthy bones by building sustainable habits that focus on balanced meals, regular exercise, proper hydration, and prioritize restful sleep. And adding prunes to your daily routine is a simple way to promote and maintain bone health.



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The Life Extension Health News team delivers accurate information about vitamins, nutrition and aging. Our stories rely on multiple, authoritative sources and experts. We keep our content accurate and trustworthy, by submitting it to a medical reviewer.