A New Year new us, right? (At least that's what we've heard over and over, right?). Cliche or not, there's good reason why - heading into the new year is always a good time to reflect on our health, and what we can do to improve our overall health.
Bone diseases such as osteoporosis may not get as much attention as heart disease, cancer, and other major diseases, but they are common, and in all seriousness, they take a large toll on the population’s overall health status and qu ality of life. Many individuals who suffer fractures as a result of osteoporosis suffer significant pain, height loss, and may lose the ability to dress themselves, stand up, and walk. Those with osteoporosis are also at risk of complications such as pressure sores, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections.
Osteoporosis affects over 1.5 million Canadians, mainly postmenopausal women and the elderly. (1) Osteoporosis affects 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 8 men over the age of 50 years, with 1 in 4 men and women having evidence of a vertebral fracture. (1, 2)
We only have until we’re about 30 to develop our maximum potential for bone mass, and then we slowly start to lose it in the years following, however, there with a healthy diet and exercise (particularly resistance training), we can slow the loss (and these can help us achieve more bone mass by the time we’re about 30 as well).
So as much as we tend to put off thinking of our bone health because we think it’s not something we have to worry about until we’re older, there is actually a lot you can do to improve bone health in all stages of life.
California Prunes and Bone Health
Let’s take a minute to talk about an old school yet underrated food – California Prunes. Yes, prunes. I think our grandmothers were on to something there. These sweet and delicious dried fruits have traditionally been known to support digestive health and helping you ‘go’ (if you know what I mean), but are now being considered “the whole package” when it comes to including them as part of a healthy diet.
Recent research shows that eating just one daily serving of 5-6 California Prunes supports bone health; and may even help slow and prevent bone loss, lowering the risk of osteoporosis. (3)
If you could do something as simple as eating 5-6 California Prunes per day to help support bone health – would you? I know I would – and do!
Not only are California Prunes naturally sweet with no added sugar (hello sweet craving, anyone?); they are a portable nutritious snack and they add rich flavour and texture to a variety of foods.
Here are just some of the nutritional benefits of California Prunes:
Prunes are very high in vitamin K and contain magnesium These two nutrients contribute to the maintenance of normal bones. Five to six prunes daily helps slow bone loss in postmenopausal women.3
A source of dietary fibre (3g per serving), which promotes digestive health, heart health and satiety (which means you are less likely to be hungry in between meals).
Low on the glycemic index (which means they have a lower impact on blood sugar, especially when mixed with other foods that contain fibre and protein).
A good source of other nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin B2 and boron.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (5-6 prunes)
Carbohydrate: 26g (net carbs: 23g)
Vitamin K: 25 micrograms
GI Index: 25 (low)
Glycemic load per serving: 10 (low)
They are also versatile! You can easily add California Prunes to smoothies, salads, baked goods and entrees to get in your daily serving and help support bone health.
Of course, it is important to have an overall healthy diet, mixed with an exercise program that includes sometime of resistance training for optimal bone health. However, adding prunes to your diet is a simple, delicious and effective way to support bone health and overall health.
Here are some tips on how you can easily add California Prunes to your meals:
Blend into your favourite smoothie for added sweetness and fibre
Create a prune puree and use it as an equal swap for butter in baked goods
Dice and add to your everyday salad for some vibrant colour and texture
Give baby food a healthy boost with a little added prune puree
Fold chopped prunes into desserts and baked goods
Simmer prunes in sauces with chicken or pork for a rich tasting meal
Add as a topper to oats and yogurt
Eat with a serving of protein – both will help prevent your blood sugar from rising too quickly, and will help keep you fuller for longer
Check out these delicious recipes made with California Prunes!
Peanut Butter and ‘Jelly’ Prune Smoothie
Makes 2 Servings
1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 large banana, frozen
½ cup Greek or Icelandic plain yogurt (or extra banana if making vegan)
2-3 tbsp of peanut butter
8 whole pitted prunes
1 cup ice cubes
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
½ cup quick oats (optional)
Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. Add optional items to make into a more filling meal replacement.
No-Bake California Prune Power Balls
Makes 24 balls
This bite-sized snack features natural sweetness and a delightful crispy texture for a satisfying energy boost. California Prunes support bone, heart and digestive health.
30 pitted California Prunes (about 1 cup/250 mL packed)
1/3 cup (75 mL) almond butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) honey
1/2 cup (125 mL) rice crisp cereal
1/4 cup (50 mL) unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup (75 mL) unsweetened, desiccated coconut (approx.)
Pulse prunes with almond butter and honey in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl.
Stir in rice crisps and sunflower seeds by hand until well mixed.
Scoop level tablespoonfuls prune mixture; form into balls and roll in coconut to coat. Repeat until all mixture is used.
Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 1 hour to set or for up to 1 week.
Add in a sprinkle of hemp hearts, flax or chia seeds for added nutrition.
For an indulgent twist, stir in 1 tbsp (15 mL) mini chocolate chips.
Power balls can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before eating.
Per serving (1 power ball): 70 calories, 3.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrates, 1 g fibre, 5 g sugars, 1 g protein. %DV 1% calcium and 2% iron.
For more information on California Prunes, visit www.californiaprunes.ca
1) Goeree R, O'Brien B, Pettitt D, et al. (1996) An assessment of the burden of illness due to osteoporosis in Canada. J Soc Obstet Gynaecol Can 18:15.
2) Ontario Women’s Health Council. 2000. A Framework and Strategy for the Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis. Ontario Ministry of Health: Toronto.
3) Hooshmand, S., Kern, M., Metti, D. et al. Osteoporos Int (2016) 27: 2271. Available from: http://bit.ly/CaliforniaPrunes