Yeah, yeah, we've heard all the prune jokes. Except now we call them dried plums and guess what they can do? They help....your bones!
A Florida State University researcher says that regularly eating dried plums (aka prunes) can help postmenopausal women -- as well as older men -- prevent fractures and osteoporosis.
Bahram Arjmandi, chairman of FSU's department of nutrition, food and exercise sciences, says he has tested numerous fruits over the course of his career, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, "and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have."
He and a group of researchers tested two groups of postmenopausal women for 12 months. One group ate 100 grams of dried plums (about 10 prunes) each day, while the second ate 100 grams of dried apples. All the women also took calcium (500 mg.) and vitamin D (400 IU) supplements daily.
After a year, the dried plum group had significantly higher bone mineral density in the ulna (the long bone in the forearm) and the spine, as compared to the dried apple group.
Arjmandi believes this is because prunes suppress the rate of bone breakdown that occurs as people age. The group's research was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Arjmandi says women are at risk of losing bone at a rate of 3 to 5 percent per year in the first five to seven years after menopause, but he added, "Osteoporosis is not exclusive to women and, indeed, around the age of 65, men start losing bone with the same rapidity as women."
Eating prunes is a simple, proactive way to protect bone health, he said, suggesting that people start slowly -- eating two to three prunes a day and increasing gradually to six to 10 per day.
Here are some ways to meet your daily prune potion: Add them to your breakfast cereal, to a classic Chicken Marbella recipe, with other fruits in a warm compote, or in this cake from Ree Drummond who blogs at thepioneerwoman.com.
Photo credit: Courtesy munfitnessblog.com