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July 11, 2022 | | Nutrition

The Link Between Prunes and Bone Health for Men

I have partnered with California Prunes with their “Healthy Natural Sweetness with California Prunes” campaign. I have been compensated for my time commitment. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.


When we think of prunes, we generally think of the role they play in gut health due to their high fiber content, but prunes have far more than just one benefit. According to California Prunes, prunes are a good source of dietary fiber, an excellent source of vitamin K, and they also contain no added sugar, cholesterol, sodium, or fat.1 Recent research is also emerging on the benefits that prunes have regarding bone health. 

Osteoporosis is a major health concern in the United States, and as we age, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases.2 Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become weak and brittle, which can result in bone loss, the inability to perform everyday tasks, and an increased risk of falls and bone fractures.3 Most research regarding osteoporosis is done on females due to the higher prevalence of osteoporosis in women, but with over 16 million men in the U.S. diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is important to understand how to prevent and treat the issue in males.2,3 A few current shocking statistics are that one in four men over the age of 50 years old will have an osteoporosis related fracture and men are more likely to pass after an osteoporosis-related hip fracture than women.3 To prevent this, it is crucial that both women and men are proactive when it comes to bone health.

Nutrition plays a large role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Due to the high antioxidant content in fruits and vegetables, these foods can play a large role in preventing inflammation and its related conditions, such as osteoporosis.3 Prunes have one of the highest antioxidant capacities out of all fruits and vegetables due to their high phenol content, meaning that they can combat inflammation well.3,4 Because prunes have such a high vitamin K content (20% of the daily value) relative to other fruits, this may also influence bone health by improving calcium balance.1,4 In addition, prunes are high in vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and boron which all play a role in bone health.1,3 Prunes contain approximately 6% of the recommended value of potassium, which may reduce calcium losses from bone causing a beneficial effect on bone mineral density to occur.1,5 These studies have shown that phenolic compounds, like that of in prunes, may have a stronger association with bone health rather than just fruit and vegetable intake alone.4

Due to the higher prevalence of decreased bone mineral density and osteoporosis in females rather than males, more research has been conducted on the link between women’s bone health and prunes.4 More research between men’s bone health and prune intake is emerging, suggesting that consistent prune consumption may have a positive effect on bone health.3,4 In postmenopausal women, clinical research has shown the beneficial effects of both short- and long-term intake of prunes for preventing bone mineral density loss and decreasing inflammation.3 One study in particular found that two 100g servings of dried plums daily slowed bone turnover rate and helped improve bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.6 A recent study was conducted over three months in men to see if these finding translated to the male population. It was found that regular consumption of 50-100g of prunes may positively affect bone turnover in men. Bone turnover refers to the process of bone being resorbed and replaced by new bone over a period of time.3 With seeing results in only three months, it is suspected that greater results would be seen with continuous prune consumption over a longer duration of time; however, more research needs to be done specifically in men regarding the relationship between prunes and bone health.

An additional study has shown that regular prune consumption of 50g-100g for three months decreased osteoclast activity in osteopenic men.7 Osteoclasts are bone cells that break down bone tissue, so this study suggests that consistent prune intake may aid with bone formation, bone turnover activity, decreased inflammation, and improvement in bone density quality.7 Additional studies are beginning to confirm these findings. A recent randomized controlled clinical study was conducted in men to look at the effect of prunes intake (100g) on bone biomarkers.  After six and twelve months, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP) levels decreased, indicating that prune consumption for twelve months may have a modest bone-protective effect in men.8 A similar study was done looking at BAP levels after prune consumption, and similar results were found. The results showed that consumption of 100g prune for six months had modest bone protective effects in men. These findings are somewhat similar to results observed in postmenopausal osteopenic and osteopenic women.9 

As previously mentioned, prunes may provide many other health benefits. According to California Prunes, prunes are a good source of fiber, with one serving of four prunes containing 3g of dietary fiber.1 3g of fiber is about 10% of the recommended values of adult males, which is highly beneficial considering 97% of men do not meet the daily recommended intake for fiber according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.2

There are two types of fiber to incorporate into the diet: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can help with lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels while insoluble fiber helps improve bowel health.10 Luckily, prunes contain both fiber types.4 Due to their insoluble fiber content, prunes have been shown to increase stool weight resulting in increased stool frequency.10,11 If irregularity is a problem, try incorporating prunes into your diet for increased bowel health.

There are so many ways to begin incorporating prunes into a healthy diet for added health benefits.  Of course, they can be eaten alone for a sweet treat, but they can also be used in many other ways. For quick ways to add prunes into the diet, try adding prunes to trail mix, as an oatmeal topping, or simply wrapping them in prosciutto for a quick and easy snack. Due to the natural sweetness of prunes, they are also a great additive to smoothies and baking. At only 90 calories for four prunes, even if bone or gut health is not a concern of yours, prunes are a tasty, sweet treat that should be part of a healthy and balanced diet.1  

  1. Nutrition facts label. California Prunes. Prunes. For life. https://californiaprunes.org/for-partners/health-professionals/nutrition-facts-label/. Published August 22, 2019. Accessed June 8, 2022. 
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.
  3. George KS, Munoz J, Ormsbee LT, et al. The Short-Term Effect of Prunes in Improving Bone in Men. Nutrients. 2022;14(2):276. Published 2022 Jan 10. doi:10.3390/nu14020276
  4. Wallace TC. Dried Plums, Prunes and Bone Health: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(4):401. Published 2017 Apr 19. doi:10.3390/nu9040401
  5. Kong SH, Kim JH, Hong AR, Lee JH, Kim SW, Shin CS. Dietary potassium intake is beneficial to bone health in a low calcium intake population: the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) (2008-2011). Osteoporos Int. 2017 May;28(5):1577-1585. doi: 10.1007/s00198-017-3908-4. Epub 2017 Jan 16.
  6. Hooshmand S., Chai S.C., Saadat R.L., Payton M.E., Brummel-Smith K., Arjmandi B.H. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. Br. J. Nutr. 2011;106:923–930. doi: 10.1017/S000711451100119X.
  7. Arjmandi B, George K, Ormsbee L, et al. The short-term effects of prunes in preventing inflammation and improving indices of bone health in osteopenic men. Current Developments in Nutrition. 2020;4(Supplement_2):5-5. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzaa040_005 
  8. Hooshmand S, Gaffen D, Eisner A, Fajardo J, Payton M, Kern M. Effects of 12 months consumption of 100g dried plum (prunes) on bone biomarkers, density, and strength in men. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2022;25(1):40-47. doi:10.1089/jmf.2021.0080 
  9. Gaffen D, Tunstall A, Fajardo J, Ramachandran P, Kern M, Hooshmand S. Effects of dried plum on bone biomarkers in men (P01-028-19). Current Developments in Nutrition. 2019;3(Supplement_1). doi:10.1093/cdn/nzz028.p01-028-19 
  10. Barber TM, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, Weickert MO. The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre. Nutrients 2020;12(10) doi: 10.3390/nu12103209 
  11. Lever E, Scott SM, Louis P, Emery PW, Whelan K. The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomised controlled trial. Clinical Nutrition. 2019;38(1):165-173. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2018.01.003