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Dates are very sweet but they don't raise blood sugar levels and do help protect against the clogging of arteries (atherosclerosis), according to new research at the Rambam Medical Center and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
According to a study by Technion Prof. Michael Aviram that will soon be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, dates offer a bonanza of health benefits. They improve cholesterol profiles and suppress the oxygenization of cholesterol, which causes fatty plaque to stick to the endothelium of the vessels in the heart and those leading to the brain.
Aviram has long studied the benefits of specific fruits and vegetables on health and was the first to cite the pomegranate, red wine (grapes) and olive oil in suppressing the development of heart disease and stroke.
"There was a suspicion that dates are sugar bombs," said the Technion/Rambam researcher. But studies on healthy people found that eating 100 grams of dates a day for a month did not cause an increase in blood sugar but did significantly bring down levels of triglyceride fats in the blood. It also minimized oxygenization of cholesterol.
He studied two date varieties - Halawi and Medjool - and found that Halawi dates were slightly better at protecting against atherosclerosis than the Medjool, though both are beneficial.