Several recent studies have confirmed what traditional oriental medicine has known for centuries that dried plums have the capacity to prevent and even reverse bone loss that often follows menopause.
The most recent study is from researchers at Oklahoma State University who studied mice that were post-menopausal. For eight weeks, the mice were given either a control diet or a diet that was supplemented with dried plum or other fruits.
In other words, those mice given dried fruit were given dried plum, dried mango, dried apple or dried grape for the eight-week period to determine whether dried fruit in general produced the effect or specifically the dried plums.
Only the dried plum diet prevented bone loss among the mice.
The researchers also found that the dried plum diet also reversed bone loss among the aging female mice. The researchers found its ability to down-regulate osteoclast differentiation coincident with up-regulating osteoblast and glutathione (GPx) activity. These alterations in bone metabolism and antioxidant status compared to other dried fruits provide insight into dried plums unique effects on bone.
This study confirms several others, including a clinical study done at Florida State University using 236 women who were one to 10 years into menopause.
The women were randomly divided into two groups. One group was given 100 grams of dried plums per day while the other group was given 100 grams of dried apples per day for a year. After doing bone scans at three months, six months and 12 months, the researchers found that the dried plum group showed significantly greater bone mineral density than those women consuming the dried apples over that same period.
However, this study did show some bone loss prevention among the other fruit groups.
As mentioned, other studies have confirmed these findings that dried plums prevent and even reverse bone loss among post-menopausal women. This research has included scientists from the Medical College of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Another study found that fructooligosaccharides (FOS) a prebiotic nutrient found in bananas, chicory root, garlic, wheat, barley, leeks, onions and other foods along with the dried plums and a soy-based diet was successful in reversing bone loss in animal research.
In addition to dried plums, researchers are increasingly finding that diets rich in plant nutrients (phytonutrients) have the effect of reducing and preventing bone loss. A review of research from Switzerland found that consuming polyphenols helps prevent bone loss, including those from tea, grape seed, citrus fruits and olives in addition to dried plum. They also found that the Mediterranean diet a diet that maintains a significant amount of plant foods along with olive oil and tomatoes apparently helps prevent bone loss as well.
Researchers from Texas Tech University also found in their research that phytonutrients provide the best strategy to prevent bone loss among post-menopausal women. The researchers found that phytonutrients such as pectin, lycopene, flavonoids, resveratrol, phenolics and phloridzin nutrients that are contained in many fruits as well as tomatoes - contribute to preventing bone loss among aging women.
While vitamin D and calcium certainly should not be left out of the equation, recent research brings into question the safety of consuming too much supplemental calcium linking calcium supplementation to increased risk of cardiovascular conditions. The broad swath of research on bone loss combines vitamin D with natural calcium sources from foods along with a healthy plant-based diet.
Case Adams is a California naturopath who has authored 25 books on the science of natural healing together withnumerous published online and print articles.