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Eat Your Vegetables – They’re Good for Your Bones

Researchers, including Marian T. Hannan, D.Sc., and Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H., of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged’s Research and Training Institute, have found that high fruit and vegetable intake appears to have a protective effect on bone mineral density (BMD) in men. In contrast, high candy consumption is associated with low BMD in both men and women. These conclusions were published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A great deal of attention has been paid to the importance of calcium and vitamin D to bone health, but recent reports have shown that potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, and fruits and vegetables also have a positive effect on bone mineral density. The lower a person’s BMD, the greater at risk they are for osteoporosis and fractures.

Using members of the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, the researchers examined the participants’ dietary habits and measured their bone mineral density. They found that men with a diet high in fruit, vegetables and cereal had significantly greater BMD than men with other dietary patterns. Men consuming the most candy had significantly lower BMD than did most other groups. Women who ate vegetable-, fruit- and cereal-rich diets also tended to have higher BMD; alcohol showed some positive bone-protective effect in women, as well.

“These results,” says Dr. Hannan, “suggest that a good-quality diet with high intakes of fruit, vegetables and breakfast cereal – and limited in candy and other sweets – may contribute to better accumulated bone mineral density in old age, particularly in men.” This, in turn, reduces their risk for fractures, osteoporosis and other bone conditions.