Make a date with dates to protect your arteries

Dates are very sweet but they don't raise bloodsugar levels and do help protect against the clogging of arteries(atherosclerosis), according to new research at the Rambam MedicalCenter 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 cholesterolprofiles and suppress the oxygenization of cholesterol, which causesfatty plaque to stick to the endothelium of the vessels in the heartand those leading to the brain.

Aviram has long studied the benefits of specific fruits andvegetables on health and was the first to cite the pomegranate, redwine (grapes) and olive oil in suppressing the development of heartdisease and stroke.

"There was a suspicion that dates are sugar bombs," said theTechnion/Rambam researcher. But studies on healthy people found thateating 100 grams of dates a day for a month did not cause an increasein blood sugar but did significantly bring down levels of triglyceridefats 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 againstatherosclerosis than the Medjool, though both are beneficial.