- Arthritis symptoms could be prevented by eating prunes, scientists claim
- Dried plums help to keep bones strong, and prevent loss of bone mass
- Five or six prunes a day could reduce risk of osteoarthritis
- Eight million people in the UK have osteoarthritis
Prunes could be used as a treatment for osteoarthritis, after a US study claimed they could stopped bone weakness.
Just 50g a day of prunes – about five or six – prevented the loss of bone mass in women that were at risk of developing osteoarthritis.
The researchers said eating 50g of prunes a day was just as beneficial as eating 100g of the fruit daily.
Osteoarthritis is the UK’s most common type of arthritis, and affects about eight million people.
“Over my career, I have tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have,” said Bahram Arjmandi, a researcher working on the study by Florida State University.
“All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional.”
Arjmandi’s comments came after the study revealed prunes could slow the breakdown of bone.
The researchers analysed 100 postmenopausal women over a 12 month period. Just over half ate about 10 prunes a day, while the other 45 ate 100g of apples.
Their forearm and spine bone density was measured at the end of the 12 months.
Ajmandi said: “In the first five to seven postmenopausal years, women are at risk of losing bone at a rate of three to five per cent per year.
“However, osteoporosis is not exclusive to women and, indeed, around the age of 65, men start losing bone with the same rapidity as women.
“Don’t wait until you get a fracture or you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and have to have prescribed medicine. Do something meaningful and practical beforehand.
“People could start eating two to three dried plums per day, and increase gradually to perhaps six to 10 per day. Prunes can be eaten in all forms and can be included in a variety of recipes.”
Arthritis Research UK said the results were interesting, but more studies were needed to confirm the link.
Osteoarthritis symptoms include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and a grating or crackling sound when moving.
The condition is caused by cartilage breaking down in between joints, which makes moving joints difficult.
Risk of developing osteoarthritis is increased as patients get older, but it could also be caused by obesity, injury and a family history of the condition.
Exercising regularly, losing weight and maintaining good posture could help to reduce the chances of developing osteoarthritis, the NHS said.