Health benefits of dried fruit: Medicine for older bones

  • I used to hate this wrinkly, evil fruit until it became my gut medicine
  •  But this fruit is also a way to strengthen older bones
  •  And could be a natural breakthrough for osteoporosis sufferers

I have always been told that there are many health benefits of dried fruit… but until recently I have struggled with this concept.

As I kid, I used to hate prunes.

And that was before I even attempted to put one in my mouth.

They looked like alien blobs.

Alien blobs that had been in the bath too long.


But my grandmother loved them.

She loved all the wrinkly horrible fruit nightmares like sultanas and dates (I didn’t like those either).

In fact, it took me decades to get over my revulsion.

Even plums – the fruit that becomes prunes when dried – were off limits.

It didn’t matter though…

Because I was a bloke in my twenties, surviving on ale, crisps, chips and curries.

A big bloke, admittedly.

But I didn’t care.

Youth was on my side.

For a while anyway…

Then I had a ‘health revolution’ in my late 30s when I discovered nutrition, natural therapies and the joys of cooking whole food…

Even then, I still gave prunes a big swerve.

That was, until I got gut ache.

Not just a stomach pain, but ongoing gut ache that never seemed to go away.

When I got checked out at the hospital and realised it was almost entirely lifestyle, diet and stress, a friend suggested prunes.


I almost gagged.

But needs must in a time of crisis and so I began popping a daily prune, like a tablet, four or five times a day.

They say it keeps you regular…

And boy, they’re right!

Suddenly, I was like my late grandmother, knocking back a few prunes a day, like clockwork.

Funny how that happens!

Of course, it’s pretty well known that prunes are good for your digestion.

And here’s why:

  • They’re rich in fibre
  • They supply sorbitol and phytonutrients which support healthy bowels
  • They can increase the volume and frequency of your stool
  • They are a prebiotic, so they help the healthy bacteria in your gut to flourish

So they’re definitely a first stop for gut problems.

But here’s something less well-known.

A natural breakthrough for osteoporosis sufferers?

The latest research from Penn State in the USA concludes that prunes are good for your bones.

They looked at not only animal studies but also ten human preclinical studies and two clinical trials. The results were then published in Advances in Nutrition earlier this year.

Prunes, they say, can prevent or delay bone loss in postmenopausal women.

This is because after the menopause, lower levels of oestrogen trigger a rise of oxidative stress and inflammation. This can lead to weak bones and a higher risk of fractures.

Connie Rogers, associate professor of nutritional sciences and physiology said that “incorporating prunes into the diet may help protect bones by slowing or reversing this process.”

So this could be a wonderful natural breakthrough for sufferers of osteoporosis, where your bones become weak or brittle.

The researchers in Penn State recommend eating around ten prunes per day for a year to boost the mineral density of your bones.

If you aren’t keen on prunes, that might sound a little unpleasant, but it’s a far better form of preventative medication – and they are packed with all kinds of nutrients that do your whole body good, including vitamins A, C, K, and B6, iron, manganese and copper.

So be brave!

And there are more prune benefits

Because they are rich in potassium and antioxidants (twice that of other fruit and vegetables) prunes help lower blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.

There is some evidence (although animal studies only) that there are benefits for your brain too.

The antioxidants in prunes have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline.

And, of course, they’ll keep you regular!

There are only two things you should be wary of…

Firstly, scoffing too many prunes can cause diarrhoea!

Secondly, a small percentage of people are allergic to things like prunes, apples and plums. That’s because they are in the ‘birch pollen’ category of allergens. So they could make your mouth swollen or itchy.

If this is the case, try raisins, dates, apricots or other dried fruits to get a similar effect.

And finally today, if you fancy cooking up a storm using prunes, then I heartily recommend a Moroccan-style tagine (use apricots as an alternative if you hate prunes).

You’ll need some lamb or beef, turmeric, garlic, onions, ginger and other spices, plus a load of prunes and honey.

As you can see, almost all the ingredients are things I’ve written about in my books – proper superfoods!

It’s possibly the tastiest way to get your prune fix.

Anyway, there are plenty of recipes online if you fancy giving it a go.