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3 Ways to Strengthen Your Bones

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Sunsweet Inc, a grower-owned prune cooperative. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the work we do at Food Heaven!

Did you know that the adult human body has 206 bones? And that 26 of those bones are found in the human foot?

Neither did we.

May is National Osteoporosis Month, and we want to talk about bone health, a topic that is often overlooked but always important. Osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes bones to become brittle and weak, is more prevalent than you think. About 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 are suffering from this disease. Yet, according to a 2017 survey conducted Sunsweet, only 50% of Americans are currently taking steps to prevent bone loss.

We want to change that.

In this article we’ll highlight 3 things you can do to strengthen your bones — starting now.

Tip 1: Add prunes to your diet

A growing body of research suggests that prunes may have a positive effect on bone health. In fact, one study found that eating 5-6 prunes daily may help to prevent bone loss. This may be, in part, because prunes contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin K, all of which are important for healthy bones. Here are four ways you can incorporate prunes into your diet.

  1. On their own. Truth be told, this is our favorite way to eat prunes. We love these Sunsweet individual prune snack packs because the prunes taste like a chewy treat without any added sugar.
  2. In marinades.  Prune purée can add a subtle richness to a variety of dishes. Don’t believe us? Try this delicious prune glazed brussels sprouts recipe we whipped up recently.
  3. In baked goods. Prunes can add a moisture to meat entrées and baked goods and improve the texture. Add pureed prunes to cakes and sweet breads to reduce the fat and up the flavor.
  4. In bars. These prune and berry bars that we made last year are basically to die for. The prunes provided a subtle moisture and sweetness, and paired per-fect-ly with the dates and almonds we used for the crust.
Tip 2: Make Exercise a Thing
 
Similar to muscle, bone is living tissue. When you exercise, it responds by getting stronger. Those who exercise regularly typically achieve maximum bone density and strength. But for most of us, bone mass peaks during our thirties, and then it starts to steadily decline.
 
One of the best things you can do to prevent bone loss is exercise regularly. In addition to making our bones stronger, exercise helps to promote balance and coordination, which can prevent falls and fractures. This is critical as we age.
 
How much exercise do you need?
 
We generally recommend about 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week and 2 days of strength training. Weight bearing exercise, which makes you work against gravity, is the best for bone health. Think lifting weights, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.
 
Tip 3: Get Your Calcium and Vitamin D On
 

Calcium is critical for our bones.
 
In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, inadequate calcium significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Adults aged 19 to 70 need about 1000 mg of calcium per day.
 
Fortified oatmeal, sardines, cheddar cheese, milk, yogurt, soybeans, and tofu all have about 200 mg of calcium per serving. For our dairy free friends, soy milk, almond milk and cashew milk are typically fortified with calcium as well.
 
Vitamin D is also critical for bone health because the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.
 
There are three ways you can get vitamin D:
 
The first is through the sun, the second is with supplements and the final is via food (though food sources are limited). Most people need about 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per day. Vitamin D rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk.
 
And there you have it folks! Three ways to boost bone health. Now it’s your turn…did you know that bone mass peaks in our 30s and then declines?
 
What are you doing (or what will you start doing) to keep your bones healthy and strong? Let us know in the comments below!

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