Hear the word “prunes” and you probably think of the canister of these sweet little gems your grandmother kept on the kitchen counter. It’s true that prunes are widely popular among senior citizens for their natural laxative properties, but the benefits of this dried fruit extend far beyond digestion. Rich in vitamin K, fiber and potassium, prunes are known to boost energy, lower cholesterol, protect against cardiovascular disease, and even build stronger bones!
A recent study from Texas A&M found that prunes prevented radiation-induced bone loss in laboratory mice. Lead researcher Nancy Turner and her colleagues administered a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory treatments to mice that had been exposed to ionized radiation. Compared to ibuprofen, dihydrolipoic acid, and a cocktail of five different antioxidants, the researchers noted that a powder made from prunes was the most effective treatment. The mice that were given prunes showed a 20 percent increase in the structural integrity of their bones, and prunes were even found to increase bone strength in mice that had not been exposed to radiation.
Turner and her colleagues were not able to determine why prunes have such a positive impact on bone health, but they suspect that it could be due to the mix of polyphenols in this fruit which give it high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The researchers did not determine a specific amount of prunes to consume for bone strengthening benefits, but Turner suggests that one daily serving of prunes should be sufficient. Prune juice, however, is not an acceptable substitute, as it is made from a different variety of plums (Source: Prevention).