As many as 52 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, and studies suggest that one in two women and up to one in four men ages 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is concerning because you can't feel your bones getting weaker, which is why it's often referred to as the "silent disease." May is National Osteoporosis Month and, since prunes have been linked to bone health, Sunsweet is urging Americans to listen to their bones this month and start taking action to keep bones strong and healthy.
You're never too old or too young to improve the health of your bones. And research suggests that the simple act of eating prunes may be a tasty place to start. Two recent clinical trials in postmenopausal women suggest that eating prunes may help contribute to bone health. The women in the first study ate 12 prunes each day and saw an increase in markers of bone formation. The second study found that when the women ate 10 -12 prunes per day they saw an increase in bone mineral density in the spine and forearm. These findings are further supported by animal studies that suggest prunes may help to prevent age-related bone loss and may even help to restore bone mass.
"Plums are emerging as a true powerhouse of nutrition," notes Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD, LDN and spokesperson for Sunsweet Growers Inc., the world's largest handler of dried fruits. "The bone health research is so exciting because it gives people new food options that can potentially help contribute to stronger bones. Prunes are also a good source of fiber with less sugar and fewer calories than other dried fruits. I love to experiment with new ways to include prunes in recipes all the time."
In addition to bone health, Sunsweet wants to inspire people to lead Amaz!ng lives. They have created a resource complete with recipes, healthy living tips and even a cooking demonstration where Blatner shares her delicious Super Seed and Prune Snack Mix.
Including prunes in the diet is just one way to help improve bone health. Additional tips for strengthening bones include:
Incorporate weight-bearing exercise, such as dancing, hiking or jogging, and muscle-strengthening exercise, such as weight lifting, yoga and pilates, into your regular routine to help build and maintain bone density.
Eat foods high in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D, including low fat or fat free dairy products, salmon, dark leafy green vegetables – such as kale and swiss chard – and foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Moderate your intake of alcohol and caffeine and avoid smoking.
Encourage your sons, fathers, husbands, friends and all the other men in your life to focus on these tips as well. Many think of osteoporosis as a disease that only effects women, but men are also at risk for thinning bones.
"We are excited to be partnering with Sunsweet this year as we work together to raise awareness of bone health," says Claire Gill, Senior Director of Marketing, Consumer & Corporate Outreach for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. "These simple lifestyle changes can make a big impact on bone health, and we are encouraging everyone this month to take action and strengthen their bones."