A recent scientific review in Advances in Nutrition has explored “The role of prunes in modulating inflammatory pathways to improve bone health in postmenopausal women”.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University examined the relationships between bone health, oxidative stress, inflammation, gut health, and prune consumption. Analysing and synthesising more than 18 studies, the researchers acknowledge an existing link between prunes and bone health and propose future research to further understand the mechanisms behind the fruit’s impacts on bone via suppression of oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, as well as gut microbiota changes.
“Osteoporosis represents a major public health issue with women over 50 years old. Non-pharmaceutical nutritional interventions are becoming increasingly popular, and prunes have been extensively studied as a potential intervention in some populations,” said lead author of the review, Connie J. Rogers, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Physiology, Pennsylvania State University.
“There is increasing evidence that the bone protective effects of prunes may be connected to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and it is possible that changes to the gut from eating prunes may also be involved in favourable bone outcomes.”
Drawing from clinical and preclinical trials, researchers suggest the phenolic compounds and dietary fibre content in prunes may alter the gut microbiome to decrease the circulation of inflammatory markers, ultimately decreasing bone turnover. They also propose the phenolic compounds in prunes may be responsible for antioxidant activity, slowing the process of bone loss and potentially promoting bone formation.
Clinical trials in postmenopausal women have shown promising effects on bone health outcomes, indicating prune consumption at both 50 g and 100 g a day may help prevent bone loss. Additionally, research on the relationship between inflammation and prune consumption also suggests a positive effect on antioxidant capacity and decreases in some inflammatory markers in postmenopausal women with bone loss.
The researchers recommend building on these existing studies by performing larger scale randomised controlled prune consumption trials that include measuring phenolic compounds via blood or urine to further explore changes in oxidation, inflammation and the gut microbiome.