Prunes: The New Medical Wonder Cure!

Categories: Health
Man on toilet.jpg
He built up too much bone mass...
In recent years, the prune industry has been none-too-subtly pushing the name "dried plums." Perhaps this hip new title will cause would-be consumers to conjure up mental images other than elderly people perched on the toilet ("Agnes! Where's da stool softenah!").

And yet, while prunes are most renowned for inducing the body to expel mass -- and fast -- a new study at U.C. San Francisco found the fruit can actually do just the opposite. A paper in the current Journal of Nutrition found that a diet heavy in prunes led mice to gain back the bone mass loss during the course of aging. That's right: Mice + prunes = scientific breakthrough!

Counterintuitively, elderly rodents fed a diet consisting of 25 percent powdered prunes didn't evacuate themselves to death but actually came out better for the experience at the end of the trial. Their frail little skeletons were stronger than before.

"What we've done is not just prevent the loss of bone with aging - we've actually put bone back," said the study's principal investigator, Bernard Halloran, a UCSF professor. "Whatever is in dried plum may prove to be an effective therapy for osteoporosis."

Hmmm -- what would happen if beavers ate prunes, too?
Halloran and his colleagues are hoping to next experiment on people and not mice. But they're not ready to do so yet -- which Halloran explains via perhaps the funniest statement a scientist has ever made regarding prunes: "Feeding people a diet of 25 percent dried plum powder by weight just isn't practical, so it's essential that we isolate the active ingredients."

Fair enough. But the Farrelly brothers would rather you just give the old people the prunes.

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