SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Move over milk-new research shows that dried plums may also boost skeletal health! The functionality of foods has become a popular means for preventing chronic diseases and maintaining health. Dried plums, known already for their antioxidant power, may also contribute to the prevention of bone loss in postmenopausal women, according to a new study conducted by Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD at Oklahoma State University(1).
Two earlier studies conducted by Dr. Arjmandi revealed that incorporating dried plums into the diet of an animal model of postmenopausal osteoporosis not only stopped, but actually reversed bone loss due to ovarian hormone deficiency. The active component(s) responsible is not known, but may be related to the abundance of phytonutrients such as the phenolic compounds in dried plums.
"These promising findings were the basis for the present study, a three-month clinical trial in which we studied the effects of dried plums on biomarkers of bone metabolism in postmenopausal women," said Arjmandi.
Women who ate 12 dried plums daily for three months had significant increases in serum markers of bone formation, including levels of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and serum BSAP (bone-specific alkaline phosphatase) activity.
"BSAP is one of the most sensitive markers of bone formation. Increases in its activity are reflective of a higher rate of bone formation," explained Arjmandi. "If this positive effect of dried plums on BSAP were to continue for a longer period of time, dried plums could produce clinically significant increases in bone mass."
Dr. Arjmandi said that a larger study of dried plum consumption, conducted over a longer period of time, is warranted to confirm his results.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a major health threat to 44 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue. Those with the disease are more susceptible to fractures and broken bones of the wrist, hip and spine.
Osteoporosis and low bone density affect millions of people each year, at considerable cost to the public health care system.
If dried plums can contribute to healthier bones in the aging U.S. population, they will join a growing arsenal of protective foods that can have a tremendous impact on health, health care costs and quality of life.
Dried plums play multiple roles in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Dried plums rank very high in antioxidant power when compared to a wide variety of other commonly eaten fruits and vegetables and are cholesterol-, sodium-, and fat-free. They are also a good source of fiber and provide important vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, iron and vitamin A.
California produces 99 percent of the United States' and 70 percent of the world's supply of dried plums. To view Dr. Arjmandi's entire published study or for more information regarding California dried plums visit http://www.californiadriedplums.org/.
(1) Arjmandi, B., RD., PhD., "Dried Plums Improve Indices of Bone Formation in Postmenopausal Women," Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine 2002; 21(1): 61-68.