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April 10, 2013

Five Foods Older Adults Should Eat to Support Bone Health

Low bone density is a common problem for older adults. In fact, the National Osteoporosis Foundation projects half of all adults age 50 and older will have low bone density by 2020. Why is low bone density a problem? It can contribute to bone brittleness and breaks, especially in women. 

During the first five to seven postmenopausal years, women can lose bone density at the rate of 3 to 5 percent per year, according to Bahram H. Arjmandi, chairman of Florida State University’s Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences. Men can suffer the effects of osteoporosis, too. After age 65, men experience bone loss at the same rate as women. 

Luckily, a healthy diet can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis now and as you grow older.

Check out the five foods you should add to your diet to support bone health. 

  • Prunes: That’s right. Dried plums, or prunes, aren’t just good for digestion. They have been shown to be among the most beneficial foods for bone health. According to a Florida State University study, postmenopausal women who ate dried plums daily over a one-year period had significantly higher bone density than those who ate dried apples instead. The study found dried plums have properties that protect bones from breaking down, helping the body to retain new bone tissue growth.
  • Broccoli: Dark green veggies like broccoli are full of vitamins and minerals that support your overall health. Broccoli contains calcium and vitamin K, both of which have been linked to bone health
  • Milk and Yogurt: Dairy products are also high in calcium, but recent studies show not all dairy products are equal when it comes to bone health. Low-fat milk and yogurt contribute to better hip bone density, according to a recently released Institute for the Aging study, while cream is shown to have less positive effects on bone health. Eating low-fat milk and yogurt are also better for your overall health because they have lower levels of saturated fat.
  • Salmon: Is there no end to the health benefits of salmon? In addition to being full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids that support your heart, salmon also supports healthy bones. It contains significant levels of calcium, as well as vitamin D, which helps in calcium absorption
  • Wine: Sorry, gentlemen —this one’'s just for the ladies. A recent study of women in their 50s and early 60s who drink one to two alcoholic beverages per day have higher bone density than those who drink heavily or those who don’'t drink at all. Researchers believe drinking moderate amounts of alcohol slows down the rate at which bones are broken down and re-absorbed by the body— important for when bone growth slows down later in life. 

Want to learn more about healthy eating for older adults? Check out our nutrition and exercise-focused blogs at www.KendalNorthernOhio.org.  


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