A dried fruit that might make you snicker at just a mention, is actually one of the healthiest out there for your bones. Prunes are not just a go-to for healthy digestion (hello, regularity!), but they’re also packed with certain nutrients and properties that benefit your bones. Prunes are just plums that have been dried, just like grapes are dried into raisins. And while they may not have all the water found in a whole plum, prunes are actually very dense in nutrition and may be a better option than eating a plum when you learn what they have to offer.

Surprising Nutrients in Prunes for Your Bones

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Did you know prunes have nearly just as many antioxidants as blueberries? They’re also packed with fiber and a certain type of carbohydrate known as sorbitol that prevents constipation … but that’s not all. Prunes pack a mean punch towards keeping your skeletal system strong and healthy.

Your bone health is important, as most of you probably already know. Taking care of your bones can help you prevent osteoporosis, fractures and muscle loss. Plant-based proteins and calcium-rich foods are important to maintain strong bones, but you also need to consider minerals such as boron, manganese, potassium, and iron. Prunes boost all of these minerals, all in higher amounts than some other fruits and vegetables. Prunes have also been shown through various studies to actually improve mineral density in the bones. The more mineral density in the bones, the easier it is to maintain strong bones over time.

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More Benefits of This Everyday Dried Fruit

Prunes have also been shown to improve the collagen stores in the body, which help keep the body strong and keep bones well lubricated. Their high vitamin C content also helps your body absorb iron from the foods you eat much better. Prunes’ healthy soluble fibers also reduce your cholesterol to help you maintain a  healthy heart. Plus, prunes are especially alkalizing to the body compared to meat and dairy. Dairy has been shown to possibly weaken bones due to the way cow’s milk causes crystallized calcium deposits that lead to the inflammation (and possibly, osteoporosis).

To beat all, prunes have a high satiety content and have been shown to help assist in weight loss due to the way their fiber and magnesium content improve blood sugar and reduce appetite. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your whole body, bones included. Prunes also offer a good source of energizing carbohydrates, which can improve your workouts to further improve bone health and strength.

How Many do You Need and How to Use Them Best

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A handful of prunes (about 8-10) is enough to provide benefits, according to studies done on prunes and reversing bone loss. You can easily add them to oatmeal, raw energy bites or bars, granola bars, smoothies, make baked goods with them, or even puree them into a sweet and savory dressing with some balsamic vinaigrette, black pepper and tamari.

The Best Kind of Prunes to Buy

Remember to buy organic and ulsulfured prunes, which don’t come with preservatives like sulfites, BHT, and other unnecessary additives. They are often labeled as dried plums if you don’t see them labeled as prunes. You might also be wondering, are regular plums as beneficial? Well, not quite. For one, whole plums are less dense in nutrients than prunes per serving since dried fruit has less water and their nutrition is more condensed. While you could easily work 10 prunes into your day, working 10 whole plums might be quite a feat, right? Though dried fruits are more calorically dense, choosing the most beneficial options like prunes, figs, raisins and figs, are much better than sugary dried pineapple or banana slices that often come with added sugars.

So there you go Green Monsters, don’t turn your nose up at this simple, healthy dried fruit. They’re a natural everyday superfood you can enjoy, all with little cost and major benefits!

Lead Image Source: Mrs. Pumpkin/Flickr