Sunday, August 21, 2011

Move Over Milk, Eat Prunes for a Strong Skeleton

Prunes seem to have a bad reputation among young people. It's unfortunate, but they often bring to mind our grandparents' tried and tested remedy for constipation, making them a less popular snack choice for everyday noshing. But if you want to have a super-strong skeleton that is less prone to fractures and osteoporosis, it's a good idea to have a handful of the wrinkly fruits every day, according to researchers.

With an onslaught of commercials reminding us to drink milk or consume other dairy products to keep our bones strong, it may not readily be apparent that there are other foods that may be similarly effective. While they do exist, you'd be hard pressed to find a substitute that is as high in calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, or is as good at depositing those minerals into your bones as dairy products, it turns out that prunes are really great at tackling the opposite problem.

Bones are in fact living things that experience a regular turnover of minerals. Minerals are deposited and also depleted and recycled back into the blood stream, depending on the nutritional state and health of our bodies. What researchers have found is that prunes can help suppress the breakdown and depletion of minerals from the skeleton, improving bone density and reducing the risk of fractures, particularly in the elderly. All it takes is about 10 prunes every day.

In the study, 55 post-menopausal women consumed 100g of prunes (about 10) every day for a year, along with calcium and vitamin D supplements. Over the course of the study, it was found that the women's bone mineral density in their forearms and spines improved significantly.

Many people wait until it is too late before they make a change to improve the condition of their bones, but if you start today, you can perhaps avoid a life-altering or potentially fatal injury in the future. Prunes can be incorporated into so many dishes and recipes - they don't need to be eaten plain on their own if that's not your favourite form. You can even make a chocolate avocado prune pudding which is way better than it sounds and much healthier than the conventional kind!