(photo credit: Yehoshua Halevi)
All nine varieties of dates grown in Israel and found on any supermarket shelf
have characteristics that make them better than other varieties at helping
protect those who consume them against cardiovascular diseases.
just been demonstrated by Prof. Michael Aviram and colleagues from Haifa’s
Rambam Medical Center and Technion- Israel Institute of Technology.
research was published in the prestigious Journal of Agriculture Food
Aviram and his team, including Dr. Hamutal Borochov-Neori of
Southern Arava Research and Development, have been studying the health benefits
of dates for some time.
The most effective varieties are the yellow
Barhi, Deri, Medjool and Halawi. The other date varieties are Amari, Deglet,
Noor, Hadrawi and Hayani.
There are about 20 date varieties growing in
various parts of the world, including North Africa and Arizona in the US, but
the Israeli varieties growing in the Jordan Valley and the Arava (and in Jericho
in the Palestinian Authority) are the best, said Aviram.
Aviram told The
Jerusalem Post on Sunday that it doesn’t matter if dates are eaten fresh or
dried, but consuming silan – date syrup – can offer little improvement to
healthy cardiovascular systems.
As silan is a sweet concentrate that does
not contain fibers, it is far from the real thing.
A study the
researchers published in the same journal four years ago showed that eating
three dates a day does not raise blood sugar levels in healthy people, but it
does reduce blood triglycerides and even “improves the quality” of blood
cholesterol by reducing its oxidation. These effects reduce the risk of heart
disease, stroke and other vascular diseases, they said.
however, that since dates contain a lot of sugar, they are not recommended for
diabetics, and that they will not reduce blood sugar levels in this
He said that eating a small amount of pomegranate may slightly
reduce blood sugar in diabetics but is not recommended as a regular
In 2009 Aviram was the first to show that antioxidants from the
group of polyphenols found in pomegranates, red wine and olive oil help remove
plaque from inside the arteries. In the new research, the team found that dates
can bring about the slowing and even regression of atherosclerosis (accumulation
of fatty plaque) in the coronary arteries, and that eating one of the the three
specific date varieties is most effective.
The material in dates has the
clear ability to speed up the removal of excess cholesterol from endothelial
cells inside blood vessels, the team said.
Dates have been cultivated in
the Middle East, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsular for more than 5,000
years, the new article states. Writings of ancient religious and traditional
medicine praised dates for their health benefits but did not prove these
Nothing was known about cholesterol in ancient times, but the
anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects were noted, even though nothing was known
about how this worked.
Dates have a high sugar content, but as they are
also a rich source of fiber, they attach themselves to harmful, oxygen-free
radicals and remove them from the body. They also have an abundance of minerals
such as potassium, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
The Haifa researchers
recommend following a Mediterranean diet – with its variety of vegetables and
fruit (including dates), fish, whole grains and olive oil – rather than eating
just one or two ingredients, so that a whole range of oxidative factors that
cause atherosclerosis can be neutralized.