by Marion Nestle
Apr 4 2022

Industry-funded study of the week: prunes, if you can believe it

Thanks to Georgene Grover for sending this one, with this comment: “What about this? Ten prunes a day seems excessive!”

The study:  The Role of Prunes in Modulating Inflammatory Pathways to Improve Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women.  Janhavi J Damani, Mary Jane De Souza, Hannah L VanEvery, Nicole CA Strock, and Connie J Rogers. Adv Nutr 2022;00:1–17.

Purpose:  Prunes (dried plums; Prunus domestica L.) have been studied as a potential whole-food dietary intervention to mitigate bone loss in preclinical models of osteoporosis and in osteopenic postmenopausal women.

Method: This is a review of previous studies.  It summarizes findings from preclinical and clinical studies that have assessed the effect of prunes on oxidative stress, inflammatory mediators, and bone outcomes. Most of the studies that reported effects required 100 grams per day of prunes (about 10 per day).

Conclusion: Overall, evidence from in vitro, preclinical studies, and limited clinical studies suggests the potential role of prunes in ameliorating bone loss.

Funding and COI: Supported by the California Prune Board provided funding to MJDS and CJR. Publication funds came from the Hershey Company endowment, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State University. California Dried Plum Board (grant no. 100804). Author disclosures: CJR is member of the Nutrition Advisory Panel for the California Dried Plum Board. The other authors report no conflicts of interest.

Comment: This is a standard industry-funded paper with a predictable outcome.  As far as I can tell, every food trade association is funding research that can help with marketing.  Even prunes.

Prunes are fine, but studies of one food don’t really tell you anything about diets as a whole.  Eat prunes if you like them.  Ten prunes means ten plums.  Seems like a lot, no?