Prunes and osteoporosis: Your questions answered

My recent blog on the bone-building action of prunes drew a lot of attention and generated several interesting follow-up questions. Let me answer your questions as best I can.

Q. Wouldn’t eating 9-10 prunes a day cause diarrhea and/or gas?

A. As we well know, prunes have a laxative effect. The studies using 9-10 prunes a day, however, found that if people introduce the prunes slowly, taking a few to start and adding more over time, they do not experience excessively loose stools. Also, at the Center for Better Bones we find that soaking or lightly cooking the prunes also helps improve their digestibility, as does eating them warmed a bit, if necessary. Another tip is to spread your prunes out over at least 2 meals. Incidentally, prunes make a tasty dessert or sweet addition to hot cereal.

Q. Will eating all these prunes each day cause me to gain weight?

A. As it appears, consuming prunes did not cause weight gain and, in fact, prune researcher, Dr. Bahram Arjmandi specifically addresses this question, suggesting that prunes are so satisfying that they can actually aid in weight control. Also, recent work at the San Diego State University found snacking on prunes twice a day curbed the appetite while improving blood lipids, which actually aids weight management.

Q. I try to keep my blood sugar under control. Wouldn’t eating these prunes harm my blood sugar?

A. As Dr. Arjmandi reports, “Because prunes are low on the glycemic scale, they should not be a problem for people with diabetes.”

Q. Does drinking prune juice have the same effect as eating prunes?

A. All of the research I have found uses whole prunes, so I have to say that we simply do not know if prune juice would have the same bone-building impact.

Q. You list prunes as being an “acid-forming food.” So how can they help bones?

A. We have to remember that foods have many qualities, and not all acid-forming foods are bad for bones. In fact, protein is acid forming and yet adequate protein is essential for optimum bone health. Although prunes are slightly acid-forming, they contain phenolic and flavonoid plant compounds, which increase bone growth factors, so overall their impact on bone is very positive.


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