Prunes aren't just for regular bowel movements
Prunes aren’t just for regular bowel movements.
Dried plums — or prunes — are among the highest antioxidant foods shown to help improve bone strength.
They have a unique nutrient and dietary bioactive profile and which exerts beneficial effects on bone. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that over half of Americans age 50+ have either osteoporosis or low bone mass - a serious cause of loss of quality of life.
The beneficial effects of prunes on bone health is thought to be in part due to the variety of phenolics present in the fruit, which increase the mineral content in our bones.
In early studies the level of prune intake originally found to bone-enhancing was fairly high at 100 grams, or 9 to 10 prunes a day.
Further research (2015) found that eating just 2 to 3 prunes a day helped reduce bone loss and increases bone density. They found that in a study group of 65 to 80 year-olds, 5 to 6 prunes a day can be as effective as 10 to 12. That's good news, as I usually eat 5 or 6 a day!
(Just FYI, 1 prune has 23 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fibre.)
This is the first edition of my weekly 4 Most Valuable pieces of content I can find to help you live longer better.
I read a lot of articles each week. A lot are just factory-produced content for Google. A lot are search engine headlines with little substance. A lot do not gel with my 20 years of experience exercising and my Professional Diploma in Sports Nutrition.
But some have very useful hints and "how tos". I pick four of these a week to share with you. I also add my insights, generally to explain the "why" so that you have more motivation to try.
These four articles stood out to me this week:
An under-appreciate benefit of HIIT exercise
Arterial stiffness occurs as a consequence of biological aging and arteriosclerosis. What is often not well appreciated is that exercise can make a significant contribution to reducing arterial stiffness, and thus mitigating the adverse health consequences.
How does that work?
Exercising makes the heart work harder and this sends more frequent pulses of blood out into the arterial system. These "pulses" are not just pushed along by the force of the heart, as in a pump pushing water through a hose. The blood is pumped along by the muscles in the arteries contracting and squeezing like squeezing toothpaste.
This exercises the arterial and vascular muscles! The exercise reduces their "stiffness', just like other muscles.
And in addition, as you exercise your heart it becomes stronger and able to pump out bigger pulses of blood with each stroke. That's why your resting heart rate drops as you get fitter. These bigger pulses make the arterial and vascular muscles work even harder to push the bigger pulses of blood along, and they get even less stiff.
The simplest at-risk check for type 2 diabetes
Measuring your waist sounds like a very simple and perhaps innocent activity. But in fact it can tell you much more about your health than standing on the scales. After all, when you think about it, weighing yourself tells you very little. It tells you nothing about your body composition and nothing about what risks you have from, say, fat deposits in high risk areas (where you carry fat on your body is extremely important).
On the other hand, a waist measurement tells you important details about the location of fat and has proven correlations with future health risks. It reflects both health and nutritional status, and when associated with the shape of your body generalised health outcomes can be predicted. The reason is that under the skin of your tummy the intra-abdominal fat builds about around your organs, and this is what leads to the health problems (so-called metabolic fat).
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building body-shaping training for people our age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter