By 2030, an estimated 13.6 million Americans over the age of 50 will have osteoporosis, a loss of bone strength caused by decreased mineral density in the bones.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak or brittle, increasing the risk of fracture. It can affect people of all ages, but it is more common in older adults. When a woman reaches menopause, her estrogen levels drop, causing an increase in inflammation in the body, which can lead to bone loss.
The research was presented at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) annual meeting, Experimental Biology 2022, in Philadelphia.
Prunes, according to the researchers, can aid postmenopausal women avoid or delay bone loss, potentially due to their ability to lower inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to osteoporosis.
Polyphenol extracts plant chemicals that serve as antioxidants and reduce inflammation in prunes have been proven to promote reduced levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in a kind of bone cell called osteoclasts in previous studies.
Researchers from The Pennsylvania State University’s Integrative and Biomedical Physiology Program, as well as the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Kinesiology, investigated the effects of prunes on bone health after menopause in a recent study.
Three groups of postmenopausal women with a low bone mineral density score, a sign of osteoporosis, were studied. For 12 months, one group consumed 50 grams (g) of prunes (about six prunes). A second group consumed 100 g of prunes each day (about 12 prunes) for a period of 12 months. A control group did not consume any prunes.
The blood samples of the individuals were tested before and after the study, and significant reductions in inflammatory markers were observed in both prune eating groups when compared to the control group. Following an analysis of the data collected from the participants, the researchers discovered that eating six to twelve prunes per day may lower pro-inflammatory mediators that may lead to bone loss in postmenopausal women.
Prunes, the researchers concluded, could be a viable nutritional intervention for preventing the rise in inflammatory mediators that occurs as part of the aging process.