Dates Join List of Fruits that Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease

Want to improve your blood triglyceride levels? Eat dates, say researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who found that eating them daily could improve the quality of lipids (fats) in the blood without raising blood sugar levels. The research results were published online this month by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In 10 healthy subjects who consumed 3.75 oz. of Hallawi dates daily for four weeks, a 15 percent decrease in triglycerides (fats) levels and a 33 percent drop in the amount of oxidation of fats in the blood were observed.  The research was led by Professor Michael Aviram of the Technion Faculty of Medicine and Rambam Medical Center.

Prof. Michael Aviram

According to Aviram, a patient's risk for heart and vascular disease is assessed not just by measuring the quantity of blood cholesterol levels, but also the quality.  This quality begins to degrade when the cholesterol is oxidized into potentially harmful molecules.  Aviram's research focuses on food that contains especially active antioxidants, which can improve the quality of cholesterol in the blood by delaying its oxidation.

"Oxidation is central to the deposition of cholesterol into the artery wall," says Aviram. “Once it is deposited, it can cause blockage of the blood supply to the heart or brain, a phenomenon that causes heart attack or stroke."

The researchers were surprised to find that a diet rich in dates did not bring about an increase in blood sugar level, which could possibly make them suitable even for patients suffering from mild hyperglycemia (persistently high blood sugar levels).

In his previous widely published studies, Aviram was the first to prove that consuming red wine reduces cholesterol oxidation and arteriosclerosis development, which leads to heart disease, a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western world.  His later studies confirmed the antioxidant and anti-atherosclerotic benefits of licorice, olive oil, onions and especially pomegranates.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel's leading science and technology university.  Home to the country's winners of the Nobel Prize in science, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine.  The majority of the founders and managers of Israel's high-tech companies are alumni. Based in New York City, the American Technion Society (ATS) is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel, with offices around the country.


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