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September 20, 2011



I've been on this prune treatment for about a year, thanks to Dr. Susan Brown's (Better Bones site) early reporting of Arjmandi's work. But I have a couple of questions about the study and thought I might as well ask them here. Since the prunes "suppress the rate of bone resorption", how is this action different from that of bisphosphonates? Won't this mean that prune-eaters will just have more old brittle bone?

This last is only partly tongue-in-cheek: why no speculation and looking askance at the study because the prune assn supplied prunes for it (like supplying funding, right?)? Couldn't we say this is similar to the dairy board funding a study that found dairy was a good thing to include in your diet?

The Healthy Librarian


Gee, good questions, that I'm not qualified to answer.
I think that Dr. A. takes a shot at answering your question-see below. Bottom line--you'd have to do bone biopsies to see what's going on in the inside of the bone.

My "amateur" answer to your excellent question about whether or not the anti-resorptive effects of prunes might cause "brittle bones"--would be that it's a natural food--and likely has a more modulated effect than a drug--and in no way prohibits the natural bone formation. Plus, it has added benefits that the drugs don't: antioxidant properties, boron, vitamin K, etc.

Here's exactly what the article says--sure to put you all to sleep--that may address your question about the "brittle bone" issue:

In an animal study: "More importantly. dried plum reversed the loss of travecular architectural properties such as trabecular number, connectivity density & trabecular separation, which to our knowledge is unique to dried plums in comparison with soya or its isoflavones, flaxseed, apples, blueberries & strawberries..

According to Lane et al, once trabecular bone is lost, it would be difficult to restore it.

The efficacy of dried plum in the reversal of bone loss in rat models of established osteoporosis exceeds many of the agents with bone-forming ability.."

But, in humans, this is still an unknown--because it would require a bone biopsy to determine.

Re taking the plums from the Dried Prune Board--that's for individuals to decide on whether that's a conflict of interest---it wasn't big $$ for salaries, labs, or equipment or DEXA scans. It was just prunes.


Well, I don't really need more excuses to load up on prunes! :-) And glad to find out about contraction issue, will try to spread them out throughout the day.

I have a sort of unrelated question just in case you know ... I live in CA but my mom lives in Cleveland. My sibs and I want to hook her up with a plant-strong personal chef for a week or so to help kickstart her plantstrong diet -- is there such a person in Cleveland? It seems like a great business to be in -- a few weeks of kickstart the diet, super-charge and clear the pantry, stock the fridge ...

Love your blog! We took the plunge last February and are loving it. You have made a great difference to our little family.

The Healthy Librarian


There used to be: Amy Cramer--but she recently moved to Boulder, CO. Does anyone have a suggestion for a personal plant-strong chef in NE Ohio? There has to be someone in the area! I'll ask around.

Jo M

Dannon yogurt used to have a "prune whip" flavor. You can make the same thing by soaking prunes in water for a few hours, then pureeing them in the blender, and mixing into soy yogurt, perhaps with a dash of spice.

Soaked and pureed prunes can also be used like applesauce in place of oil in baked goods. But consider flavor compatibility - good for gingerbread or buckwheat pancakes, probably not so good for cornbread.


Thanks for a great article. I'm forwarding it to me 3 sisters, daughter and daughter-in-law. As a dental hygenist, I'm very aware of some of the bad side affects of these drugs (loss of the jaw bones) and have warned my family to do everything to avoid needing these drugs. Plus, for some of us it's a two-fer as prunes can solve an issue we tend to get when we travel.

Carole B

First, thanks for this blog! It's amazing and so gracious of you to share with the world.

Does it matter if the prunes are sulfured or not? How about cooking them? The sulfured ones are so soft and juicy; I buy those for eating out of the bag. The unsulfured ones are stewed in my house because they are so hard and dry. Does it matter which you eat or the method of preparation? (I'll assume the traditional Passover soaked-in-kosher-wine is not the way we're going to go here! ;-) )


Do you suppose that prune juice would also be helpful? I LOVE me my prune juice, including heated up during the winter months ...

Fat Fudge

Thank you for printing this! My Mom is currently taking Boniva and wants to stop because of the pains in her legs and knees. Unfortunately, her Doctor believes that she should continue with it. I don't know if my Mom will want to try prunes, though. She already says that she has too much of a gas problem! I am going to try it not only because I have osteopenia, but I love prunes.


Oh yay! I just finished dehydrating several pounds of plums, so I have my year's supply ready for consumption.


It sounds both too good to be true and too easy not to try. The science is convincing and I will be adding prunes to my diet as a healthy snack based on this article. I really appreciate the information.

The Healthy Librarian


So well said: Too good to be true--too easy not to try!

Carole B.: No mention of sulphured or unsulphered in the article.

The Healthy Librarian

Carol: Study was done with whole fruit, not the juice. Stick with prunes.

Pamela Wildermuth

Hello to you again,
I am on Holidays with our Daughter and Family in Atlanta GA. I am enjoying going to Whole Foods and Trader Joes finding a lot of the foods that you have written about over the last 15 months that I have been following your emails. It is 15 months that I have been eating plant-based, with a few 'hiccups' along the way, and my last Blood tests showed numbers were down so very pleasing. I would have liked to have been able to have got an appointment to see Dr Esselstyn, but just didn't work out. I will get his DVD and Forks over Knives DVD and book [ have to go into Apple to see if they will play on my Mac] as they are not compatable with our system in Australia.
Keep up the fantastic effort of sending out your emails, they have been a great help and support to me and am sure a lot of people everywhere.
Pamela Wildermuth, Australia

The Healthy Librarian

A warm welcome to the US, Pamela! Hope you're enjoying your visit to Atlanta & spending time with your family--and FINALLY, getting to stock up on everything at Trader Joe's & Whole Foods. So glad that Dr. E has that DVD now available of his day-long session. No need for that extra side trip.

Great news about all your health successes--and thank you so so very much for all your kind words, and support! Flattery will get your everywhere. Hope your Mac will play the DVD's!

Kate H

Great news since I love prunes and have bone loss. However, doesn't Dr. Esselstyn recommend that we limit our fruit intake to 3 a day? Just want to know what you think. I think I will eat my prunes.


Thanks for another provocative posting....

A few questions occur to me: One, why prunes and not fresh plums? I like those much better! And two, if we did eat 10 plums a day, we'd be way over the 3 fruit aren't we still over, even though the water has been removed? And three, 32 grams of extra sugar seems like something we're trying to avoid......It's all so complicated! Should we just lift more weights instead? ; )

Also a P.S. - Not intended to rush you, but will we still be seeing part 2 of the 15-mo experiment one of these days, or has it slipped by me? I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on essential tools, etc.

Thanks again for all the great work you do on our behalf.


Definitely worth a shot. My grandmother lost several inches of height to osteoporosis, and I already eat raisins every morning in my oatmeal, so subbing prunes and eating them at snack times would be fine. I would expect a more moderate effect than with drugs, so brittle bones would be less of a concern. With whole foods, you get a package your body is designed/adapted to process. With drugs, not so much.

Betty Amer

I'm intrigued by the fact that the participants didn't gain weight. Did the prunes displace other foods, or were they really in addition to usual intake?

The Healthy Librarian

Kate: Yes,Dr. E. does advise limits on fruit, especially on dried fruits for folks who have high triglycerides.

That said--the 10 prunes in this study are spaced out over a day--tiny amounts of sugar--like 2.4 grams of sugar per prune. The amount of sugar in 10 prunes (100 grams) is 32 grams--about what's in 2 apples.

So, yes, there's a conflict here--but, I know I probably snack on more than 3 servings of fruit a day, as it is.

If you were to give it a try--keep on eye on your triglycerides to see if they're affected.


Yay! Good post - I've been missing these types of posts. Also, I LOVE Dried Plums/Prunes. I got into eating them when living in the middle east. Thanks for the good news.
DIL Leslie

The Healthy Librarian

Kate H: You're right about Esselstyn's 3 fruit recommendation. The sugar in 10 prunes is equivalent to 2 apples--wonder if its different if it's spaced out into tiny sugar hits throughout the day--if the effect upon triglycerides is marginal. Anyone know?

Betty: Hi Betty,

I was intrigued, too, about the calories. I would have thought the women would just eat less. But at baseline (they were reported in kJ units, so I converted them) the daily intake was 1644 calories, and at 12 months it was 1846 calories--basically the calories in 10 prunes. So it looked liked the prunes did not displace other calories at all. That's why the authors were surprised that the weight stayed the same over the year. They speculate that it was the fiber in the prunes. Any thoughts?


RE: sugars and triglycerides. Doesn't it make a difference that the sugars in prunes are accompanied by all that fiber?

And just wanted to add that I've been weighing my daily prune allotment and 100 grams = 3.5 oz. A pound of prunes doesn't last long at that rate of consumption.

(Thanks for your response to my earlier questions about the study!)


Thanks for this post! I have some prunes sitting in my cupboard that I haven't been doing a good job of eating but this gives me motivation to dig back in!


Osteoporosis runs in my family. I went out immediately after reading this and bought a packet of organic prunes. "Why not?", I thought. Delicious with oat porridge, and so much nicer than taking a pill.


It could be that any consistent amount of prunes would be advantageous. I think I'd tire of ten a day, but ten a week is feasible for me.


What do you think of this blog post on prunes....?

The Healthy Librarian


Good post--and yes, it's true--there are many varieties of plums & it's easy to see the differences between them in the grocery store. Prunes do come from those tiny Italian "prune" plums, that are usually available in the late summer or fall. You can eat a bunch of them at a time--and they're my husband's favorite.

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