A review recently published in the Journal Advances in Nutrition states that prunes may be able to help prevent or delay bone loss in postmenopausal women due to their ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
With the prevalence of osteoporosis among women aged 50 years and over expecting to reach 13.6 million by 2030, the researchers state that alternative non-pharmaceutical agents for osteoporosis, including nutritional interventions, are becoming increasingly popular.
Mary Jane De Souza, professor of kinesiology and physiology, claims: “Fruits and vegetables that are rich in bioactive compounds such as phenolic acid, flavonoids and carotenoids can potentially help protect against osteoporosis, with prunes in particular gaining attention in previous research.”
Prunes have a range of nutritional benefits, including minerals, dietary fibre, vitamin K and phenolic compounds. Such features are said to counter the effects of inflammation and oxidative stress. A potential mechanism for the effects is prunes triggering a change in the gut microbiome that then reduces inflammation in the colon.
The researchers analysed data from 16 preclinical studies in rodent models, ten preclinical studies and two clinical trials. Across the studies, evidence was found that eating prunes helped reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and promoted bone health. The clinical trials found that eating 100 g of prunes each day for a year improved bone mineral density of bones in the forearm and lower spine, and decreased signs of bone turnover.
Furthermore, eating 50 or 100 g of prunes a day for 6 months prevented loss of total bone mineral density and decreased TRAP-5b compared to women who didn’t eat prunes.
“In postmenopausal women, lower levels of oestrogen can trigger a rise of oxidative stress and inflammation, increasing the risk of weakening bones that may lead to fractures,” said Connie Rogers, associate professor of nutritional sciences and physiology. “Incorporating prunes into the diet may help protect bones by slowing or reversing the process.”
Rogers concluded: “Taken together, evidence from in vitro, preclinical studies, and limited clinical studies suggest prunes may help to reduce bone loss. This may be due to altered bone turnover and by inhibiting inflammation and suppressing markers of oxidative stress.”