The Prune Study: Prune Positive Outcomes Keep on Coming

By Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD, Nutrition Advisor, Research and Communications, California Prunes

Power Pairing – Prunes and Cashews.

In our April 2022 newsletter, we reported early findings from the largest prune consumption trial to date, which studied a cohort of more than 200 postmenopausal women. The study revealed that daily prune consumption preserved bone mineral density (BMD) and mitigated increased fracture risk. Principal Investigator Mary Jane De Souza, PhD with Pennsylvania State University presented these results at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, and the exciting news had our friends Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN and Liz Shaw, MS, RDN talking about the Surprising Effects of Eating Prunes and why Prunes Aren’t Just for Your Grandparents.

Since that time, the full paper Prunes preserve hip bone mineral density in a 12-month randomized controlled trial in postmenopausal women: the Prune Study[i] was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dr. De Souza and her team of collaborators have been communicating additional significant outcomes at several scientific meetings and conferences.

In March at the Experimental Biology[ii] meeting and in June at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) conference, Dr. De Souza’s team reported that daily prune consumption generated an anti-inflammatory effect resulting in a decrease in inflammatory mediators associated with bone loss and osteoporosis[iii]. It was also revealed at the ASN meeting that a daily 50g dose of prunes (4-6 prunes) has the potential to be a valuable non-pharmacological treatment strategy to preserve hip BMD in postmenopausal women without negatively impacting body or fat mass[iv].

In early October, Dr. De Souza traveled to Atlanta for the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society to share the news that in addition to preventing bone loss at the hip, 12 months of daily prune consumption protected postmenopausal women from bone loss at the tibia (shin bone) compared to the control group who did not consume prunes. In fact, the control group experienced decreased bone strength at the tibia at the 1-year mark while those who consumed prunes maintained their tibial bone strength[v]. This is a significant finding as the tibia is a weight-bearing site.

At the end of October, Dr. De Souza and her team presented more of The Prune Study findings at the International Menopause Society’s 18th World Congress on Menopause and we plan to share those findings soon.

From this large study, researchers will also be exploring how prune consumption alters the gut microbiota. When those results are published next year, we’ll be sure to provide another update!

References

[i] De Souza MJ, Strock NCA, Williams NI, Lee H, Koltun KJ, Rogers C, Ferruzzi MG, Nakatsu CH, Weaver C. Prunes preserve hip bone mineral density in a 12-month randomized controlled trial in postmenopausal women: the Prune Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2022 Jul 7:nqac189. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac189. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35798020.

[ii] Damani, J.J., Strock, N.C.A., De Souza, M.J. and Rogers, C.J. (2022), A Randomized Controlled Trial of Dietary Supplementation with Prunes (Dried Plums) on Inflammatory Markers in Postmenopausal Women. The FASEB Journal, 36:. https://doi.org/10.1096/fasebj.2022.36.S1.R3212

[iii] Damani J, De Souza MJ, Strock N, Rogers C, The Effect of 12-Month Prune (Dried Plum) Supplementation on Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Secretion in Postmenopausal Women, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, Issue Supplement_1, June 2022, Page 975, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzac068.004

[iv] De Souza MJ, Strock N, Williams N, Lee H, Koltun K, Rogers C, Ferruzzi M, Nakatsu C, Weaver C. Low Dose Daily Prunes Preserve Hip Bone Mineral Density With No Impact on Body Composition in a 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial in Postmenopausal Women: The Prune Study, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, Issue Supplement_1, June 2022, Page 10, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzac047.010

[v] De Souza MJ, et al. Prunes Preserve Cortical Bone Density and Estimated Strength in a 12-month Randomized Controlled Trial in Postmenopausal Women:  The Prune Study. North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting.; October 13, 2022; Atlanta Georgia

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