Eating prunes promotes bone health, new study finds

Published: 16-Feb-2024

Prunes have been shown to enhance bone density and strength in postmenopausal women

A newly published study in Osteoporosis International shows that postmenopausal women who ate prunes daily for a year preserved certain measures of bone structure and estimated bone strength as compared to women who didn’t eat prunes. 

The study adds to an accelerating body of published research that demonstrates eating prunes daily can help mitigate bone loss in older age. 

“Prunes have a combination of minerals, vitamin K, phenolic compounds, fibre and anti-inflammatory properties that is unique among foods and in fact, unique among fruit,” said lead study author Mary Jane De Souza, Ph.D., a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University. 

“We’ve been studying prunes because their combination of nutrients seems to work together for a positive effect on bones. While medication and hormone therapies can help women maintain their bone density and strength as they get older, these often require lifelong management and come with some risks – so learning about impactful dietary changes can be a great help.” 

These findings are part of The Prune Study, a large, single-centre, parallel-arm, 12-month randomised controlled trial completed with 183 postmenopausal women who ranged in age from 55 to 75, who were nonsmokers and not severely obese. 

Easy ways to eat prunes more often

Authors of The Prune Study have noted “high compliance and retention” over 12 months in women who ate 50 grams prunes a day - in other words, the women who participated tended to enjoy eating the prunes daily and tended to remember to eat them each day, which isn’t always the case in nutrition studies when the dietary changes are too hard or don’t taste good. 

“Eating prunes is an easy thing to do – they’re sweet and satisfying,” said Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, a registered dietitian. “They fly under the radar for many people, but if you’re looking to add a healthy habit to your day, a serving of prunes is under 100 calories and easy to include at breakfast or paired with an easy protein source as a snack.”

Studies also show that people who ate prunes in place of these other foods not only got more nutrients, but also felt satisfied and fuller for longer and ate less at their next meals.

Prunes can be included in the diet in a plethora of ways:

  • With breakfast, on top of low-fat yogurt, wholemeal toast or porridge
  • As a snack, on their own or paired with protein and healthy fats such as nuts or cheese 
  • In savoury dishes, mixed with caramelised onions as a topping for roast chicken or green beans/winter squash


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