Prunes have been studied extensively over the past 10 years and are emerging as an easy and delicious way to help improve bone health. Now, new research presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases further supports prunes as a realistic whole food strategy that has clinically meaningful impacts in vulnerable populations: postmenopausal women at risk for bone fractures.
In this new study of 235 postmenopausal women, those who consumed 50 grams of prunes (5-6 prunes) a day for one year maintained hip bone mineral density (BMD) while those who ate no prunes lost significant BMD at the hip. Additionally, compared to the prune eaters, hip fracture risk went up in those who ate no prunes. The researchers concluded that prunes can be a valuable food-based strategy to prevent bone loss at the hip and protect against fracture risk. This exciting study was the largest clinical trial of prune bone health research to date.
But how can we translate this science into dietary guidance to support populations who need to protect their bones the most? Registered dietitian and Sunsweet partner Erin Palinski-Wade RD, CDCES, has tips to help put this valuable new research into practice.
“When your doctor prescribes you a medication, you are directed to take a specific dosage and when to take it throughout the day. This clear direction helps you comply with taking it and ensures the medication delivers the therapeutic benefit desired,” explains Palinski-Wade. “I recommend applying this same concept to this new research – think of the 5-6 prunes participants consumed in this study as your optimal ‘daily dose’ whole food-based therapeutic strategy to get bone health benefits.”
Palinski-Wade continues, “My advice for enjoying 5-6 prunes throughout your day is to incorporate into what you already love to eat. They are so versatile and pair well with so many other favorite foods. Plus Sunsweet has so many options, from D’Noir Prunes that are delicious in recipes, to Sunsweet Ones for an on-the-go snack, to a convenient canister for easy pantry access.”
Here are some delicious ways to enjoy 5-6 prunes in your meals and snacks throughout the day, across different eating patterns, preferences and culinary skill levels.
Plant-based Eating Pattern
Breakfast: Oatmeal & Prune Muffins: 1 prune/serving; prep time 10 minutes; cook time 20 minutes
Lunch: Sweet & Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash: 1 ½ prunes/serving; prep time 10 minutes; cook time 50 minutes
Dinner: Vegetable Tofu Stir-Fry Prune Teriyaki Sauce: 1 ½ prunes per serving; prep time 10 minutes; cook time 30 minutes
Snack: Soft Prune Cookies: 1 ½ prunes/serving; prep time 15 minutes; cook time 15 minutes
Protein-focused Eating Pattern
Breakfast: Breakfast Chia Pudding: 2 prunes/serving; prep time 10 minutes, cook time 10 minutes
Lunch: Chicken and Prune Salad: 2 prunes/serving; prep time 20 minutes; cook time 10 minutes
Dinner: Prune Nut Sliders: 1 prune/serving; prep time 20 minutes; cook time 10 minutes
Snack: Almond Prune Energy Bars: 1 prune/serving; prep time 5 minutes
Prunes have vitamins and minerals that seem to work together to protect the bone, including fiber, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, boron, copper and polyphenols. While these new results are promising, and the findings presented should be considered preliminary until a peer-reviewed publication is available, they add to the body of research supporting prunes for bone health.
“I always recommend a ‘daily dose’ of prunes to my nutrition clients because not only are they a nutritional powerhouse, but the simple addition of 5-6 prunes daily is a manageable amount they can stick with over time that has really important health benefits,” explains Palinski-Wade.