Bone health tends to be taken for granted until it becomes a concern. One day you’re trucking along, living your life, and the next, you can, unfortunately, deal with a bone fracture without warning—and bone fractures are no fun to deal with.
As a registered dietitian and a person with many family members who have osteoporosis (a medical condition characterized by the weakening of bones, making them fragile and more prone to fractures), I’ve seen first-hand how dietary choices can impact a person.
What’s more, I’ve seen how bone health can impact so many other aspects of our overall health. Not only is waiting for a broken hip or femur to heal painful, but it also makes it very hard to exercise and socialize during the recovery period. Plus, a lack of exercise and socialization can result in negative effects on mental and cardiovascular health, which can lead to a whole other boatload of challenges.
Needless to say, I am very motivated to support my bone health before I run into challenges.
This is why, along with doing the tried-and-true things that support bone health, like participating in weight-bearing exercise, avoiding cigarette smoke, and including dairy foods in my diet, I have started snacking on Sunsweet Probiotic+ Prunes ($6) to keep my bone health in-check.
While this choice may be surprising to some, there are some compelling reasons why I lean on prunes for bone health that may not be on everyone’s radar (but they should!).
Why it’s worth eating prunes for bone health
While it is true that there are factors beyond dietary choices that can impact bone health, like genetics, smoking habits, and exercise habits, dietary choices can have a huge impact on bone health, and should not be ignored.
When it comes to foods that support bone health, there is no doubt that dairy foods get the spotlight—and rightfully so. Dairy foods are packed with bone health-supporting nutrients, like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. And data shows that daily intake of low or non-fat dairy products as part of a healthy dietary pattern may be associated with improved bone mineral density and fewer bone fractures.
But while dairy can support bone health in an impactful way, they aren’t the only food that we should be eating to keep our bone health in check. Like dairy, prunes contain many bone health-supporting nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. But, these naturally sweet dried fruits also contain bone health-supporting nutrients that dairy does not contain, like vitamin K, copper, boron, and some bioactive plant compounds, helping fuel the body with bone health-supporting nutrients that dairy drinkers may be missing.
The amazing thing is that there is actual data showing that daily intake of prunes may result in improvements in bone health. When specifically focusing on postmenopausal women (who are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, thanks to those pesky hormonal changes), data published from Penn State showed that eating four to six prunes every day for six months may prevent loss of total hip bone mineral density, and this effect persisted for the entire12 months of the study. Other data published in Osteoporosis International demonstrated similar positive effects on bone health when postmenopausal women consumed five to six prunes every day for six months.
PS: Similar effects were found when older men were given four to six prunes every day. Bottom line? Prunes have become my go-to snack for bone health because of this and other very cool data. Plus, you shouldn’t wait until you’re older to start prioritizing bone health.
Why Sunsweet Probiotic+ Prunes are my go-to bone-health snack
When I need a sweet treat (which is, like, every day), instead of reaching for candy or ice cream, I have started leaning on prunes to tame my sweet tooth. Not only are they naturally sweet with no added sugars, but they are a lower glycemic food, they support my gut health, and of course, they may help keep my bones healthy and strong.
All prunes will provide important nutrients that support both bone health and digestive health. But not all prunes provide live probiotics on top of all of the amazing other nutrients they contain, so while most prunes on our grocery shelves are great choices, my top pick is Sunsweet Probiotic+ Prunes. They’re made with a live probiotic called bacillus coagulans (specifically, BC30), a probiotic that may have anti-inflammatory benefits.
These prunes are naturally sweet with some extra juicy elderberry flavor, perfectly portable, and they pair well with nuts, nut butter, and even dark chocolate if you are looking for some decadence. Of course, they can be enjoyed completely on their own too.
After dinnertime, when my snack attack strikes, I always enjoy four to six Sunsweet Probiotic+ Prunes as a part of my evening routine. After enjoying my nosh, I am no longer craving sweets, I feel satisfied, and I know that I did something good for my bone health, immune health, and gut health simply by the snack choice that I made.
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