There are a few fruits that can rival a sweet and tasty plum on a summers day.
Being tasty is all well and good, but few fruits can also make the claim of being a bone-building wonder!
The secret to plums hidden health benefits lies in its rich mixture of phytonutrients which can have dramatic benefits for osteoporosis sufferers.
Unfortunately, the humble prune is one of the most avoided fruit-based foods available to us, but it really shouldn’t be that way. These sticky-sweet wonders have fabulous bone-building potential that could treat a range of conditions.
Is a dried plum a prune?
For the sake of clarity, I’ll be using the term dried plum rather than prune in this article. Just to clarify, a prune is traditionally a dried European plum which has a loose stone inside.
In the United States, the name prune seems to have been dropped for the more appetising title of dried plum.
This change may be a marketing ploy due to the previously unglamorous association attached to the name prune or merely a genuine geographical distinction.
Dried plums and osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition which makes bones fragile and more likely to break.
This degenerative process can take many years to fully develop and is often only diagnosed when a person takes a fall and breaks a bone.
If osteoporosis or bone thinning have been diagnosed by your doctor you may want to change your diet and increase your nutrient levels to correct this.
Adding dried plums to your diet has been shown to have bone preserving properties in postmenopausal women.
Dried plum doesn’t just provide protection for weak bones. Diets high in dried plum showed significant protection against articular cartilage damage and reduction of the synovitis.
These findings reported in the journal of nutritional biochemistry concluded that “dietary supplementation with dried plum inhibited inflammatory processes (TNF signalling) leading to decreased erosions of bone and articular cartilage as well as synovitis.” These encouraging results appear to indicate that this tasty functional food has a cartilage protective action. What’s not to like?
A 2004 study led by the Oklahoma State University stated that a diet supplemented with dried plums significantly restored bone mass in female rats who had been surgically altered to resemble the conditions found in postmenopausal women.
Professor Arjmandi, chair of FSU’s nutrition food and exercise science department, gushed “I’ve never seen results that were more consistent” when talking about the benefits of eating dried plums and their resulting influence in improving biomarkers linked to bone formation in postmenopausal women
He went on to say “our FSU research is unique in that all participants (women between two and 10 years postmenopausal) can hope to potentially benefit in some manner.”
The women in the trial eat 100g grams of dried plum every day to achieve these remarkable benefits.
Why can’t we just take a pill?
Treatments for osteoporosis are available but they can be prohibitively expensive and they are not without side-effects. It is preferential for many women to modify their diet and lifestyle by combining dried plum with healthy weight-bearing exercises which are known to prevent fractures and strengthen bone.
Dried plums are sweet, tasty and incredibly nutritious. So why wouldn’t any sensible person include them in their diet rather than taking a potentially dangerous chemical drug?
The obvious caveat to this is that plums are not available all year round. The seasonal nature of their availability prevents us from enjoying fresh plums all year long.
This annoying fact of life has to be remedied!
The good news is that we can now get dried plum in supplement form from many of our favourite health food stores.
There are also many different variations of plum snacks available, with some being packed in foil-lined sachets and other packaging.
And whilst the best way to benefit from the natural phytochemicals in plums is to actually eat the fruit itself, we shouldn’t discount the value of supplementation during winter months.
Dried plum and radiotherapy
Dried plum has been shown to have a bone protecting action for cancer patients who are being treated with radiotherapy. One study claimed that dried plum dietary supplementation was effective in preventing skeletal responses to low and high-level gamma radiation. The studies I have read suggest that dried plum may provide effective protection for the structural integrity of bone during radiotherapy
Radiation-induced bone loss is a big problem in cancer treatment, especially in older populations. The development process of this disease actually looks very similar to the age-related structural changes we see in osteoporosis. Unfortunately, this damaging process is accelerated in the sub-optimal conditions of high radiation environments, but now dried plum extract is giving cancer sufferers new hope with its bone protecting properties.
Dried plum nutrition
Dried plums provide an impressive array of nutrients including vitamins C, K copper and fibre.
An in-depth nutrient profile analysis reveals that there are over 80 nutrients found in the dried plum.
Amount Per 100 grams
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.4 g
Saturated fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.1 g
Sodium 2 mg
Potassium 732 mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 64 g 21%
Dietary fiber 7 g 28%
Sugar 38 g
Protein 2.2 g 4%
Vitamin A 15% Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 4% Iron 4%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 10%
Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 10%
Other health benefits of dried plums
Dried plums are a great source of vitamin A which is essential for vision.
And whilst one dried plum only delivers 3% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A we have to remember that we should be eating several dried plums per day (approx 100g) if we wish to positively influence our bone mineral density.
Good for the heart
Potassium is an important heart health nutrient and ensures the proper functioning of the nerves.
Taking potassium daily can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
If you thought blueberries were the king of antioxidants you might be surprised to find out that prunes contain an even higher amount of antioxidants than this summer fruits favourite.
Tufts to university in Boston described dried plums as being the number one food for anti-oxidant content. Eating dried plums can protect from the free radical damage that can occur to cell membranes inside the body.
Helps with elimination
Here’s perhaps another reason why prunes are now almost universally called dried plums.
It has been known throughout history that prunes are a very effective remedy for constipation. Back in the day prunes were so well known for this that it almost became stigmatic as time went on. It really isn’t any surprise that the marketing people who promote plums have sought to shed this image.
This is a shame in the highly intelligent people who make up the health community fully realise the benefits of the need for good elimination and detoxification.
Dried plums really do get the job done if you need help with elimination!
Support glowing skin
Antioxidants slow down the ageing process and delay the development of wrinkles. The abundance of nutrients in the dried plum provides ample vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that keep your skin healthy and glowing.
Stimulates healthy hair growth
Dried plums are a great source of iron which can contribute to your overall health and offer many benefits for your hair. Dryness, discolouration, and hair loss are all symptoms of iron deficiency.
The hair strengthening vitamins B and C can be found in dried plums. These valuable nutrients can help to support hair growth and prevent breakdown. These nutrients are particularly good at strengthening the root of the hair.