- Felicia Newell, RD, BSc
A Surprisingly Simple Diet Change That Can Improve Bone Health
DISCLAIMER: This post was developed in sponsored partnership with the California Dried Plum Board; however, as always, all opinions are genuine.
New Year new us, right? 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 quality 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.
Roughly 10 million individuals over age 50 in the United States have osteoporosis of the hip. An additional 33.6 million individuals over age 50 have low bone mass or “osteopenia” of the hip and thus are at risk of osteoporosis and its potential complications later in life. 1, 
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.
Prunes and Bone Health
Let’s take a minute to talk about an old school yet underrated food – 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. 
If you could do something as simple as eating 5-6 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. 
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.
California Prune Energy Balls
¾ cup (175 mL) almonds and walnuts mix
1 cup (250 mL) California prunes
¼ cup ( 50 mL) chia seeds
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) smooth nut butter
coconut oil, to blend
1/4 cup (75 mL) desiccated coconut
1. Place nuts in bowl of a food processor with knife blade and blitz for 10 seconds.
2. Add California prunes, chia, cocoa and nut butter and blend well until smooth.
3. Add a small amount of coconut oil, a few drops at a time, until the mixture is sticky, and holds its shape when you roll a small amount between your fingers.
4. Take a tablespoon (15mL) of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue creating balls until mixture is all gone.
5. Place coconut onto a small plate and roll balls in the coconut, to coat.
6. Place balls in an air-tight container in the fridge. They will keep for up to a week.
Recipe courtesy of California Prunes.
For more information on California prunes, visit the California Dried Plum Board website.
 National Osteoporosis Foundation. America’s bone health: The state of osteoporosis and low bone mass in our nation. Washington (DC): National Osteoporosis Foundation; 2002.
 Siris ES, Miller PD, Barrett-Connor E, Faulkner KG, Wehren LE, Abbott TA, Berger ML, Santora AC, Sherwood LM. Identification and fracture outcomes of undiagnosed low bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: Results from the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment. JAMA. 2001 Dec 12;286(22):2815–22.
 Hooshmand, S., Kern, M., Metti, D. et al. Osteoporos Int (2016) 27: 2271. Available from: http://bit.ly/CaliforniaPrunes
Felicia Newell is a Registered Dietitian, Sport Nutritionist, Food and Nutrition Expert, Health Coach, and a mom of 4 boys under 7! She is also the owner of Sustain Nutrition. Felicia wears many hats, and knows what it is like to try and live healthy in a busy world, where our environments aren't always supportive of making healthy choices. Life is busy, confusing at times, and full of contradictions, especially in the world of health and wellness. Felicia is passionate in helping others fight through the misinformation out there, and to navigate life and health, but most importantly, to enjoy it while doing it. She has over 11 years of education and experience in Nutritional Sciences. Between completing her Bachelor and Masters in Nutritional Sciences, working at a research centre, teaching university courses, years of nutrition counselling helping people crush their goals, and being a busy mom of 4 young boys, she has the passion, skills, education, and experience to help you reach your health and wellness in a way that works for YOU.
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