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Pennsylvania State University: consumption of plums improves bone health

| 1.4.22 |

 Consumption of plums improves bone health

 A new study from Pennsylvania State University found that daily consumption of plums (Prunus domestica) can improve bone health. The results were based on an analysis of 235 postmenopausal women and women over the age of 50 who were more likely to experience hip fractures, loss of independence and shorter life spans. As is known, osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak or brittle which can happen to anyone at any age. However, according to researchers, it is most common in women over the age of 50. 

The condition affects more than 200 million women worldwide, causing nearly nine million fractures each year. Bone mineral density (BMD) decreases rapidly in postmenopausal women or women over the age of 50. The prevalence of osteoporosis in women aged 50 years and over is estimated to reach 13.6 million in 2030. Alternative non-pharmaceutical agents for osteoporosis, including nutritional interventions, are becoming increasingly popular. Previous clinical trials in osteopenia postmenopausal women have shown a promising effect that daily consumption of prunes can prevent bone loss. That may be due to its ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to bone loss. 

Professor Mary Jane De Souza, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University, said their data support the consumption of prunes to protect the hips from bone loss after menopause. The study report has been published in the journal Advances in Nutrition under the title "The Role of Prunes in Modulating Inflammatory Pathways to Improve Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women."
"It is interesting that data from our large randomized controlled trial in postmenopausal women showed that consuming 5 to 6 prunes a day demonstrated a protective benefit against bone loss in the hip," said De Souza in a Pennsylvania State University media release. In the study, De Souza and colleagues analyzed data from 235 postmenopausal women. "These data may be particularly valuable for postmenopausal women who are unable to take pharmacological therapy to combat bone loss and need alternative strategies," he said.

 The results showed that women who consumed 50 grams of prunes (about 5-6 prunes) daily for one year maintained their hip BMD. While those who did not eat prunes, (control group) lost significant bone mass in the hips. Furthermore, the risk of hip fracture was increased in the control group compared to those who ate plums which protected against an increased risk of fracture. According to the researchers, one potential mechanism for the effects of plums is to trigger changes in the gut microbiome, which in turn reduces inflammation in the colon. This can then decrease levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and markers of oxidative damage. 

"Just a handful of plums can easily be added to anyone's lifestyle," says California Prune Board's nutritional advisor, Dr. Andrea Giancoli. "Plums go well with so many flavors and textures and work well for individual nutrition plans. The naturally sweet taste of plums makes them a versatile ingredient or a convenient snack for anyone." In the future, the researchers plan to report further on the effects of 12-month plum consumption on bone, inflammatory pathways and gut microbiota in a randomized controlled trial.

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