Postmenopausal women are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to decreased estrogen levels. This hormonal change also causes increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Prunes have been shown to improve lipid levels and exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, but no studies have identified the most effective dose. With this in mind, the researchers observed the effects of varying amounts of prunes on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.
This was a secondary analysis of a 6-month randomized controlled trial in 48 postmenopausal women (ages 65–79) that investigated the effects of prunes on bone health. The participants consumed 0, 50, or 100 grams of prunes daily. At baseline and month 6, the researchers measured various biochemical markers for cardiovascular disease.
Total cholesterol decreased in the 100-gram group, and both prune groups saw an increase in superoxide dismutase activity (an antioxidant enzyme). In the 50-gram group, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α (inflammatory biomarkers), alanine transaminase and lactate dehydrogenase (enzymes related to liver function), and creatine kinase (a marker of muscle damage) were lowered, and total antioxidant capacity increased.
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