Use of Dried Plum Vs. Dried Apples for Bone Loss in Postmenopausal Women

Some postmenopausal women use alternative therapies to improve bone strength to eliminate unwanted consequences of drugs. Dried plum or prunes have proven to be the best solution to slow down bone loss. The present study is an effort to quantify this benefit by comparing the effects of dried plum versus dried apples in conjunction with calcium and vitamin D consumed for one year. Evaluation at the end of the study showed higher increase in bone mineral density with plums rather than apples, thus establishing that plums effectively retard bone loss in postmenopausal women.

Osteoporosis and related fractures are a major health concern in women over the age of 45 years. Several drug formulations are available in the market, which unfortunately give rise to many adverse effects. Therefore, it is advisable to consume fruits and vegetables like dried plum and onion to limit the process of bone loss in these women. Animal studies have shown positive results of bone damage restriction by even minimal amount of plums. A short three-month trial in postmenopausal women also supports this evidence. Hence, this study aims to extend the result to a longer period to provide a simple solution to a critical health issue.

* The study enrolled 160 postmenopausal women, assigned to consumption of either dried apple (75 g) or dried plum (100 g). Both groups also received 500 mg of calcium supplement and 10 µg of vitamin D.
* Baseline information on medical history, nutrition, physical activity, and sleep was collected.
* Bone density measurements and blood samples to measure bone markers were taken at the start, and at the end of three months, six months, and 12 months of the study.
* All obtained readings were statistically analyzed.

Results/Key findings
* Finally, 100 women completed the study with 82 percent compliance with protocol.
* Although both dried fruit diets offered protection to bone, the effect of plums was higher than apples.
* Dried plum specifically helped increase bone density in the ulna and spine.
* Blood markers of bone wasting and products of inflammation were reduced significantly with the consumption of dried plums.

Next steps/Shortcomings
Many women could not be included because of intake of other drugs or supplements. This study does not account for the protection to bones given by ingestion of dried plums. The different components of any fruit or vegetable should be taken into play while assessing the bone turnover effect. Future studies are warranted with longer duration in larger population to extrapolate the results meaningfully.

This study has explicitly shown that eating dried plums regularly is beneficial in two aspects. The direct role played by plums in containing bone loss in postmenopausal women is clear. Additionally, plums also help in the reverse process, namely, the recouping of bone health. In general, fruits and vegetables offer a feasible solution to betterment of health because of their content of vitamin C and K and phytochemicals. The content of antioxidants like phenolic compounds and boron plays a very important role in calcium metabolism and balance. The reduced quantities of bone markers detected in the blood in this study also indicate that plums help in bone formation. Thus, plums prove to be an available boon to women who usually have to suffer osteoporosis after menopause.

For More Information:
Comparative Effects of Dried Plum and Dried Apple on Bone Density in Postmenopausal Women
Publication Journal: British Journal of Nutrition, 2011
By Shirin Hooshmand; Sheau C. Chai; Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida


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