Men's Osteoporosis Support Group
Dried plums increase BMD
Br J Nutr. 2011 May 31:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. Hooshmand S and others. PMID: 21736808. This study involved 160 postmenopausal osteopenic women who were fed either 100 g of dried plums (prunes) or [control group] dried apples per day for 12 months. They also received 500 mg calcium plus 400 IU vitamin D per day. Effects were assessed with bone mineral density (BMD) tests and bone biomarkers.
The results showed significantly increased BMD of the ulna and spine in the dried plum group. Dried plums also significantly decreased serum bone turnover markers, including bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-5b.
The authors concluded, “The findings of the present study confirmed the ability of dried plum in improving BMD in postmenopausal women in part due to suppressing the rate of bone turnover.”
Editor's comments. This study involved only postmenopausal women, but there is no reason at this time to presume the results wouldn't apply equally to men. Some of the earlier studies on lab animals involved males who had beneficial results. To my knowledge the active ingredient(s) in the dried plums are not currently identified, but are presumed to be phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants.
The BMD testing involved the hip, too, but there was no statistical improvement noted in the abstract for that test. Perhaps some of the women will continue on this regimen and have follow-up tests which might show longer-term improvement.
Anyone not wanting to take one of the FDA-approved osteoporosis medications might want to discuss this, and the other dried plum studies, with their care provider to see if dried plums might be a viable, non-drug therapy for osteoporosis. It might be a good idea to have pre-treatment BMD testing and biochemical markers done. Then follow up in 3-6 months to verify the biochemical markers have changed as expected. Then after one or two years have repeat BMD testing done as a more pertinent test of the effectiveness of this therapy.