Add Prunes to Your Playbook to Support Healthy Bones
Loaded with nutrients and no added sugar, athletes of all ages can turn to prunes for better bones
Sacramento, Calif. (October 12, 2016) – Athletes of all ages are faced with bone-chilling odds when it comes to injuries. More than 2.6 million children, ages nineteen and under, are seen in emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year with bone injuries among the most common. Taking action to strengthen bones beginning at a young age is critical, and nutrition plays an important role.
Teenage athletes report injuries at about the same rate as professionals, yet these injuries differ from the pros because younger athletes are often still developing bone -- ninety percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys. Prunes contain vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, boron and vitamin K which help improve calcium balance and promote bone mineralization. One serving of prunes (4-5 prunes) has 100 calories, no added sugar and is considered an excellent source of vitamin K.
“It is essential that young athletes fully understand the importance of proper nutrition,” reports Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, FACSM and Director of Sports Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) who has a fueling station in the sports nutrition office. “Since we began offering our student athletes prunes and educating them about the health benefits, we have found that they are embracing prunes as a real food snack option,” said Clark.
During the crucial development years, adequate nutrition plays an integral role in long-term bone health. For one example, young female athletes who do not consume enough calories may not develop bones to the normal strength. In some cases this could result in a sixteen-year-old girl having bones as weak as those of a sixty-year-old woman.
Prunes have a remarkable history when it comes to healthy bones. Research has been conducted to examine the connection between prunes and bone health. A recent clinical trial found that post-menopausal women who ate 100 grams of prunes per day (roughly two servings of prunes or 10-12 prunes) had improved bone mineral density and a decreased rate of bone turnover compared to a control group. The study was repeated with post-menopausal women eating only 50 grams of prunes per day (roughly one serving or 5-6 prunes), and the prunes helped to prevent the loss of bone mineral density. Additionally, emerging animal research indicates that prunes may help prevent bone loss in those exposed to radiation, such as astronauts, and may help to achieve peak bone mass during growth.
“Educating young athletes on the importance of developing strong bones during the short timeframe when bones are still growing is key,” notes Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, former nutrition consultant for the Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers. “Try coupling diced prunes with granola and serving my Right Bites as a tasty snack before or after practice. This combination is a treat everyone can enjoy from my sons to my professional athletes,” said Bonci.
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup California dried plum bits
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
1 cup almond butter
2/3 cups honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated orange peel
- Combine cereal, oats, almonds, dried plum bits and chocolate chips in a large bowl; mix well.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, stir together almond butter, honey, cinnamon and orange peel. Microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds or until bubbling. Stir well and add to dry ingredients, mixing until well blended.
- Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet or shape for ice trays. Chill for at least one hour, then store in the refrigerator or freezer to keep firm.
Recipe created by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN for the California Dried Plum Board.
California Dried Plum Board (CDPB): The CDPB represents 800 dried plum growers and 29 dried plum packers under the authority of the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture. Revered as part of California’s rich history, the dried plum remains a vital player in California’s economic wealth. California growers produce approximately 99 percent of the United States’ and 40 percent of the world’s supply of prunes and prune products. California prunes are The Whole Package: a naturally sweet, convenient and nutrient-dense snack and versatile culinary ingredient. Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, is the owner of Active Eating Advice and a sports nutrition consultant for collegiate and professional sports teams around the country, a sports nutrition consultant to the WNBA and spokesperson for the CDPB. Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, is the Director of Sports Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and Nutrition Advisory Board Member for the CDPB.
 5 CDC MMWR. Nonfatal traumatic brain injuries related to sports and recreation activities among persons aged ≤19 years—United States, 2001—2009. MMWR. 2011. 60(39): 1337-1342.
 NationalInstituteofArthritisand Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Childhood sports injuries and their prevention: a guide for parents with ideas for Kids. NIH Pub. 2006. 06-4821
 Hooshmand et al. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2011 Sep; 106(6):923-30.
 Hooshmand et al. The effect of two doses of dried plum on bone density and bone biomarkers in osteopenic postmenopausal women: a randomized, controlled trial.Osteoporos Int.2016 Jul;27(7):2271-9.
 Scientific Reports 6, Article number 21343 (2016). Access the article at http://www.nature.com/articles/srep21343. Schreurs A-S, Shirazi-Fard Y, Shahnazari M, Alwood JS, Truong TA, Tahimic CGT, Limoli CL, Turner ND, Halloran B and Globus R.
 Shahnazari M, et al. Dietary dried plum increases bone mass, suppresses proinflammatory cytokines and promotes attainment of peak bone mass in male mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2016;34:73-82.
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