What can eating 10 prunes a day do for you?

The amazing thing that eating 10 prunes a day does for your body.

 pLUMS ARE an evocative comestible for Musrara-born artist Yoram bouzaglo. (photo credit: YORAM BOUZAGLO)
pLUMS ARE an evocative comestible for Musrara-born artist Yoram bouzaglo.
(photo credit: YORAM BOUZAGLO)

Many people think prunes are a sure cure for constipation, yet they have several other important benefits, especially for postmenopausal women. How many prunes should be eaten every day?

Prunes, which are dried plums, sound like something you eat on Tu Bishvat or when constipated, but researchers at Penn State University suggest older menopausal women should consider eating several prunes daily. Their study found that prunes can help prevent or delay bone loss in older women.

The authors of the study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition claim that prunes can reduce physical inflammation and oxidative damage, both of which contribute to bone loss. "In postmenopausal women, lower levels of estrogen can trigger a rise of oxidative stress and inflammation, increasing the risk of weakening bones that may lead to fractures," said Dr. Connie Rogers, a professor of nutritional sciences and physiologist who conducted the study. "Incorporating prunes into the diet may help protect bones by slowing or reversing this process."

Osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and weak, is quite common in women over the age of 50. Estimates show that about 200 million women worldwide live with osteoporosis, with the condition causing nearly 9,000,000 bone fractures annually. Several medications for osteoporosis are now available, but researchers believe that more and more women are looking for holistic ways to treat or completely avoid the condition, especially through diet.

Plums 150 (credit: Laura Frankel)Plums 150 (credit: Laura Frankel)

Prunes contain essential nutrients

The human body works to maintain its bone health through an ongoing process which constantly builds new bone cells while removing old bone cells. However, around the age of 40, the breakdown of old bone cells begins to surpass the production of new bone cells in the aging body. This imbalance may result from various factors including inflammation and oxidative stress.

It’s important to clarify that oxidative stress isn’t connected to feelings of stress or pressure. Oxidative stress refers to the imbalance between the levels of free radicals and antioxidants in cells. Prunes are full of minerals, dietary fiber, vitamin K and phenolic compounds and all of these nutritional benefits may help fight the harmful effects of inflammation and oxidative damage.

Ten prunes daily can strengthen bones

The team analyzed data from 16 preclinical studies conducted in rodents – for this study, ten preclinical studies and two human clinical trials. In all these studies, the results remained almost the same. Eating prunes led to two positive benefits: less oxidative stress/inflammation and stronger bones.

Specifically, clinical trials found that eating about ten prunes (100 grams) daily for an entire year improved bone mineral density within the forearms and lower spine.

Similarly, consumption of between 50 and 100 grams of prunes daily for six months prevented major bone density loss and lowered inflammation levels significantly compared to other older women who didn’t eat prunes.

The research team assumes that prunes cause healthier changes within the gut microbiome, and subsequently lowers inflammation in the colon. Such developments probably reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as oxidative damage markers. Further research is already planned to more thoroughly investigate how eating prunes consistently over the course of a year affects bone health, inflammation and intestinal function.