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The #1 Best Diet for Stronger Bones, Says New Study

Consider picking up some feta cheese on your next trip to the grocery store.
FACT CHECKED BY Kristen Warfield

There's more to looking after your bone health than just eating lots of calcium. There are a range of dietary choices you can make that can either help your skeleton out or leave you at risk of health issues.

For instance, eating leafy greens could help you out, while pumping yourself full of sugary soft drinks could be doing some real harm. Now, new evidence suggests that sticking to the Mediterranean diet could have a positive impact on your bone density.

mediterranean diet

In the study, a meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at information from more than 13,000 people across eight studies, examining how their adherence to the Mediterranean diet compared to their bone density. They found a small but significant link between keeping to the diet and higher density in parts of the spine, neck, hip, and the body overall.

Related: The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science

"[This study] reveals very modest increases, likely not enough to prevent or reverse osteoporosis in those who are, for example, genetically predisposed," Laura Kelly, DAOM, author of The Healthy Bones Nutrition Plan and Cookbook, tells Eat This, Not That!."That said, a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet is going to provide positive systemic effects, such as lowered inflammation, which will contribute to healthier bone mechanism function."

Plus, the Mediterranean diet, which involves eating more fish, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, and fruits and vegetables, is linked with a range of other positive health outcomes for your body and mind. Studies have suggested that the diet could help protect you against cognitive decline, that it could help improve your sleep quality, that it could provide your immune system with a helpful boost, and even that it could extend your life.

When it comes to your bone health specifically, there are other dietary choices that you can make that could help you out. You can pair your calcium-rich foods with those high in vitamin D, for instance, to help your body absorb the nutrient. You can add some more prunes to your diet. You could also pick up some prunes on your next trip to the grocery store.

Additionally, there are a range of foods recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health's Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, including fortified oatmeal, sardines, cheddar cheese, milk, and yogurt.

For more on making skeleton-smart dietary choices, check out Over 50? Eat These Foods For Stronger Bones, Say Dietitians.

Clara Olshansky
Clara Olshansky (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based writer and comic whose web content has appeared in Food & Wine, Harper’s Magazine, Men's Health, and Reductress. Read more about Clara