The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocate for increasing fruit intake and replacing energy-dense foods with those that are nutrient-dense. Nutrition across the lifespan is pivotal for the healthy development and maintenance of bone. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that over half of Americans age 50+ have either osteoporosis or low bone mass. Dried plums, also commonly referred to as prunes, have a unique nutrient and dietary bioactive profile and are suggested to exert beneficial effects on bone. To further elucidate and summarize the potential mechanisms and effects of dried plums on bone health, a comprehensive review of the scientific literature was conducted. The PubMed database was searched through 24 January 2017 for all cell, animal, population and clinical studies that examined the effects of dried plums and/or extracts of the former on markers of bone health. Twenty-four studies were included in the review and summarized in table form. The beneficial effects of dried plums on bone health may be in part due to the variety of phenolics present in the fruit. Animal and cell studies suggest that dried plums and/or their extracts enhance bone formation and inhibit bone resorption through their actions on cell signaling pathways that influence osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation. These studies are consistent with clinical studies that show that dried plums may exert beneficial effects on bone mineral density (BMD). Long-term prospective cohort studies using fractures and BMD as primary endpoints are needed to confirm the effects of smaller clinical, animal and mechanistic studies. Clinical and prospective cohort studies in men are also needed, since they represent roughly 29% of fractures, and likewise, diverse race and ethnic groups. No adverse effects were noted among any of the studies included in this comprehensive review. While the data are not completely consistent, this review suggests that postmenopausal women may safely consume dried plums as part of their fruit intake recommendations given their potential to have protective effects on bone loss.
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