More than a simple snack, prunes have achieved superfood status due to their known benefits on bone, digestive, and cardiovascular health. Now, two new studies add further evidence to confirm the positive role that prunes have on overall health.
The Prune Study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is a 12-month randomized controlled trial that looked at California Prunes, bone density, and bone structure in postmenopausal women aged 55-75 years. It’s the most comprehensive investigation of a dose-response relationship of prune consumption on bone health, immune function, inflammation, and cardiovascular health to-date. The California Prune Board provided funding support.
For the study, researchers randomized 235 women into either a control group (no prune consumption), 50 g prune per day (about 5 prunes), or 100 g prune per day (about 10 prunes). The researchers found that total hip bone mineral density decreased in the control group, while the 50 g prune group preserved bone mineral density. They concluded that 50 g of prunes daily can prevent the loss of total hip bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, and that the effect persists for 12 months. This study builds on a previous comprehensive review of 24 studies on prunes and bone health which showed that prunes enhance bone formation and exert beneficial effects on bone mineral density. The bone health benefits of prunes are likely due to their unique combination of bone-building nutrients including vitamin K, boron, manganese, and potassium.
The benefits of prunes extend well beyond bone health. They also play a role in digestive health, by enhancing the gut microbiome, preventing constipation, and easing laxation. Past studies show that prunes are tastier and more effective than psyllium fibre for the treatment of mild to moderate constipation and should be considered as a first line therapy to ease laxation.
In a new study in the journal Langenbeck’s Archives of Surgery, researchers looked at the role that prunes play in hastening bowel movements after surgery. The researchers looked at 77 adult women who had benign gynecologic surgery that required at least one night in the hospital. They were assigned to either have 4 oz (113 g) prunes (about 10-12 prunes) daily plus the stool softener docusate sodium (100 g) twice daily, or docusate sodium alone (without prunes).
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