The International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis (ISNAO) brings together the best scientific minds in bone health research and nutrition. Current research presented at the 2015 Ninth ISNAO has added to the increasing body of evidence that suggests dried plums (prunes) help to support healthy bones and may even promote attainment of peak bone mass.
“I’m thrilled to learn more about the research involving dried plums and how they help support healthy bones. The more effective strategies for preventing bone loss we can share with the public, the better,” said ISNAO Symposium Director Connie Weaver, PhD, distinguished professor and nutrition sciences department head at Purdue University.
Osteoporosis continues to be a growing health concern, and according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF):
- 54 million Americans have low bone density or osteoporosis. This can increase their risk for broken bones, causing an estimated two million breaks a year.
- One in two women and up to one in four men over age 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis-related bone breaks cost patients, their families and the U.S. healthcare system $19 billion annually.
- Experts forecast that by 2025, osteoporosis will be responsible for three million fractures resulting in $25.3 billion in costs.
Prunes are on the NOF’s “Good for Your Bones Foods” list. Two studies presented at this week’s ISNAO suggested that eating dried plums help support healthy bones and may even promote attainment of peak bone mass.
Dried plums linked to an increase in bone mass in young adult and aged male mice
Bernard Halloran, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, presented his new study today at ISNAO. Based on his previous research that discovered dried plums can restore bone loss in an aging model, Halloran investigated whether dried plums could support the attainment of peak bone mass during growth. Halloran found that incorporating dried plums into the diet may help to increase bone volume in both young, growing mice and also in young adult and adult mice.
“This remarkable observation suggests that dried plums may support bone health earlier in life and perhaps be an effective way to address bone-related issues as we age,” said Halloran.
Previous studies suggest that dried plums may help improve bone mineral density by reducing markers of inflammation that increase the rate at which bone cells resorb or breakdown bone.[i] Halloran’s study is compelling since age-related osteoporosis is a significant public health problem for both men and women. Despite significant advances in prescription medicine for the treatment of osteoporosis, issues with patient compliance, adverse effects, cost and long term efficacy have remained. Dried plums are a convenient and cost effective snack and culinary ingredient worthy of further investigation.
A daily serving of dried plums is linked to the slowing of bone loss in postmenopausal women
Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams of dried plums (two servings; about 10-12 dried plums) for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women[ii]. During a poster session at ISNAO, Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, researcher and assistant professor, Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University, presented new research that comparatively looked at the effectiveness of a smaller dose of 50 grams of dried plums (one serving; about 5-6 dried plums). Results indicate that one serving of dried plums may be effective in improving bone health and slowing bone loss.iii
“It’s an incredible finding,” noted Hooshmand, “that a flavorful dried fruit and convenient snack may be helpful in preventing bone loss.”
Dried plums’ nutrition story supported by additional research
A growing body of research continues to support California dried plums as a nutritious whole food with promising effects on bone health. Additionally, registered dietitian nutritionists have long recommended dried plums as a nutrient-dense food to incorporate into meals and eat straight out of the package as a snack. Dried plums have solid research to support their well-rounded nutrition story that extends beyond bone health. In fact, research suggests dried plums may help to reduce LDL cholesterol and promote good digestive health.
“I’ve always recommended them to my professional and collegiate athletes and clients. It’s a given that you can easily replace other ingredients with prunes but people don’t realize how many culinary benefits they offer,” says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and team dietitian for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. “Plus, I eat them straight out of the bag. Dried plums are affordable, convenient, portable and always available. It doesn’t get any better than this natural bite-size nugget of goodness.”
About The California Dried Plum Board (CDPB): The CDPB represents 900 dried plum growers and 26 dried plum packers under the authority of the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture. Revered as part of California’s rich history, the dried plum remains a vital player in California’s economic wealth. California produces 99 percent of the United States’ and 42 percent of the world’s supply of dried plums, a convenient, healthy snack for today’s busy lifestyle. Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, and Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, are spokespeople for the CDPB. Bernie Halloran, PhD, is a consultant for the CDPB. CDPB provided partial funding and dried plums and/or dried plum products for the various studies. CDPB is a sponsor at ISNAO. Members of the CDPB have a partnership with the NOF. For more research information, and to find recipes and videos, visit www.californiadriedplums.org and www.eatdriedplums.com. Follow the CDPB on https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDriedPlums and https://twitter.com/CaDriedPlums.
Shereen Mahnami, Ketchum, 415-984-6159 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alyson Barnes, Ketchum, 415-984-6259 or email@example.com
MC Robertson, MS, RD, Ketchum, 415-984-6175 or firstname.lastname@example.org