Professor Bahram H. Arjmandi said:
"Over my career, I have tested numerous fruits, 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. All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional."
Arjmandi and team from Florida State as well as Oklahoma State Universities tested 90 postmenopausal women. They were divided into two groups:
- Dried plums group - 55 women consumed 100 grams of dried plums, equivalent to about ten prunes per day. They also took 500 milligrams of calcium and 400 international units of vitamin D daily.
- The control group - 34 women consumed 100 grams of dried apples per day. They also took 500 milligrams of calcium and 400 international units of vitamin D daily.
Those in the dried plums group had considerably greater bone mineral density in the ulna and spine compared to those in the control group at the end of the 12-month period. The ulna is a long bone in the forearm.
Arjmandi believes this occurred because dried plums suppress the bone re-absorption rate, or bone breakdown - this eventually exceeds new bone growth rates as people get older.
Approximately 8 million American women have osteoporosis because of the abrupt cessation of ovarian hormone production when the menopause starts. A further two million US males are also thought to suffer from osteoporosis.
"In the first five to seven postmenopausal years, women are at risk of losing bone at a rate of 3 to 5 percent per year. However, osteoporosis is not exclusive to women and, indeed, around the age of 65, men start losing bone with the same rapidity as women."
"Don't wait until you get a fracture or you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and have to have prescribed medicine," Arjmandi said. "Do something meaningful and practical beforehand. People could start eating two to three dried plums per day and increase gradually to perhaps six to 10 per day. Prunes can be eaten in all forms and can be included in a variety of recipes."