Question & Answer

Does eating prunes improve bone density?

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The Evidence

We found four relevant studies on this subject:

  • Study 1: 160 postmenopausal women, ate either 100g/day of dried plum or 100g/day of dried apple for 1 year. The study showed that the group who ate 100g/day of dried plum had increased bone mineral density, particularly at the ulna (a bone in your arm) and spine.
  • Study 2: 48 postmenopausal women ate either 100g of prunes or 75g of dried apple per day. The study found that the bone mineral density at the ulna and spine increased more in group who ate 100g of prunes daily compared to group who ate 75g of dried apple daily.
  • Other research focused on using smaller amounts of dried plums and prunes, which can be easier for people to incorporate into their diet. A study of 235 postmenopausal women showed that 50g of prunes daily was linked with maintenance of bone density levels at the hip, even though postmenopausal women tend to lose bone at a rate of 1% annually.
  • Another study of 48 osteopenic (experiencing a loss of bone density) postmenopausal women showed that either 50g/day or 100g/day of dried plums was linked to total body bone mineral density not decreasing.

Overall, the evidence suggests a possible link between eating prunes and improved bone density, but it is not definite. To be sure, we need more detailed and larger studies that consider whether a person’s diet and lifestyle contribute to better bone density. This is the only way we can be sure that eating a certain amount of prunes daily does in fact help or not help bone density.

Guidelines and recommendations

  • We did not find any guidelines or recommendations on this topic.

Things to Remember

  • Sometimes people don’t think about the side effects of treatments because they really want to see improvements. Remember even if a treatment is natural it doesn’t mean that it is 100% safe and without side effects
  • It is always important to ensure that the people who took part in studies are similar to you. For example, all the studies reported above have involved older women. Therefore, we do not know what the effects of prunes are in men or in young women.
  • Just because using a treatment is associated with people getting better or worse, that doesn’t mean that the treatment made them better or worse.
  • Just because these individual studies have shown some benefits of prunes on improving bone mineral density, we cannot be fully certain. It would be helpful if a systematic review was conducted to carefully provide a summary of all the evidence.


  • Lead Researcher: Dr Marie Tierney, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Galway and School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, Dublin City University
  • Reviewed by: Dr. Paula Byrne, Senior post-doctoral researcher, iHealthFacts, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway.
  • Topic advisor: Dr. Ananya Gupta, Director of Exercise Physiology, Exercise and Cancer Rehabilitation Researcher, School of Medicine, University of Galway
  • Public and Patient advisor: Anne Daly, Public and Patient Involvement in research (PPI) advisor, PPI Ignite, University of Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr. Claire O’Connell, PhD in cell biology, Masters in Science Communication. Contributor to The Irish Times, writing about health, science and innovation.

Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors have no financial or other conflicts of interest for this health claim summary.