Grape consumption may help protect bone health, according to a Purdue University study.

Connie Weaver, head of Purdue’s Department of Nutrition Science, was the lead researcher on the eight-week feeding study. Results were presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research annual meeting Oct. 4-7 in Baltimore.

The work used an animal model for menopause to investigate the long-term benefits of grape consumption for bone health. A prior study demonstrated short-term benefits in animals.

The results showed animals consuming a grape-enriched diet had improved bone calcium retention compared to a control diet without grapes. Moreover, the grape-fed group had greater femur cortical thickness and strength.

“These results suggest that grapes can improve yet another important aspect of health — our bones,” Weaver said in a news release. The topic merits further research, she said.

About 57 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis or low bone mass. After age 30, bone density declines. For women the loss is accelerated during the transition to menopause. Once attributed solely to loss of estrogen, it actually depends on a combination of factors, researchers have found.