So yeah, we’ve all heard that prunes are a good way to, um, move things along when the digestive system is a little sluggish, but did you know that prunes—aka “dried plums”—may also improve bone health?

Researchers from Florida State and Oklahoma State University recently found that eating prunes may help prevent fractures and osteoporosis in women. In the study, two groups of postmenopausal women were followed for 12 months. The first group (55 women), was instructed to consume 100 grams of dried plums (about 10 prunes) each day, while the second —a comparative control group of 45 women — was told to consume 100 grams of dried apples. All participants received daily doses of calcium (500 mg) and vitamin D (400 IU).

At the end of study, the prune-eating group had significantly higher bone mineral density in the forearm and spine than the group that ate dried apples. Researchers believed this was, in part, due to dried plums’ ability to reduce the rate of bone resorption—the breakdown of bone—which tends to exceed the rate of new bone growth as people age. Suppressing resorption may help prevent osteoporosis, which is tied to fractures and other ailments.

So the hard part: working up to eating 10 prunes per day. Excuse me, dried plums…I don’t know, it sounds promising, but that’s a lot of dried plums.

While it’s easy enough to chop up a few and throw them over salad, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and other dishes, it would require some creativity. You could also use them in place of other dried fruits in stews and sauces. I wonder if this would include prune puree used in place of fat and sugar in baked goods?

Though it’s tempting to think that one food has the ability to “cure” or prevent a particular illness, there really is no defense like an all-around adequate diet.

Do you eat prunes? If you do, what’s your favorite way to eat them?

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