Eating prunes may help prevent bone loss, preserve strength in older women
Eating prunes as part of one's daily diet may help prevent bone loss, especially at the hip and tibia, or shinbone, and preserve bone strength in postmenopausal women, according to two studies from Pennsylvania State University.
The first study explored inflammation and bone health, while the parent clinical trial, also conducted at Penn State, evaluated the effect of eating 50 grams, or five to six prunes per day and 100 grams, or 10 to 12 prunes per day, on bone mineral density, bone geometry and estimated bone strength during a 12-month dietary intervention.
The collective study findings, based on data from the same 235 postmenopausal women, were shared via a poster session at the North American Menopause Society's annual meeting in Atlanta.
According to the researchers, the abstract results are being prepared as full papers for anticipated publication in in December in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society.
In the US, about 10 million adults over age 50 have osteoporosis, and women are four times more likely than men to experience it, the researchers noted.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18.8% of women ages 50 or older have osteoporosis of the femur neck or lumbar spine. That compares with 4.2% of men of the same age with the condition.
This is partly due to declining estrogen levels with the onset of menopause, which causes the loss of trabecular and cortical bone density. Trabecular bone is the spongy, honeycomb-like interior core, while cortical bone is the strong exterior, the scientists said in a news release.
They said that estrogen deficiency also contributes to an increase in "inflammatory mediators" that suppresses bone formation.
The first study explored the relationship between circulating cells that release substances to reduce inflammation, known as inflammatory mediators, and various measures of bone health, including bone density, geometry and strength.
The second study involved a control group that ate no prunes, 50 grams (five to six prunes) a day, 100 grams (10 to 12 prunes) a day and a pooled group, which represented the combined group of women who ate either five to six or 10 to 12 prunes a day.
"Previously, we demonstrated that consuming five to six prunes a day for 12 months resulted in preservation of bone at the total hip, a finding that was observable at six months and persisted through month 12.
In this second part of the randomized controlled trial, 3D imaging of bone provided some additional info about the response of bone to consuming prunes daily," Mary Jane De Souza, the study's principal investigator, said in the release.