Are Dates Good For Cholesterol?

Are Dates Good For Cholesterol?

Don’t get it twisted, dating is good, but only for your social and emotional wellness. We are totally on healthy food here and we’re talking about the date fruit!

Like all food products from plants, dates are virtually cholesterol free (negligible content). Cholesterol, especially the bad type, is found in meat and other animal food products like cheese.

Are dates good for cholesterol? Although they wouldn’t pass as the best cholesterol lowering foods we have around, these natural candies have still been proven to contain properties that lower your cholesterol and help you steer off strokes or heart attacks.

Did you know that women in America die from LDL cholesterol related cardiovascular complications more than anything else?

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Dates: Desert or Sub-tropical sweet, dense and chewy fruits

Plant: Palm tree (nicknamed “tree of life”)

Scientific Name: Phoenix dactylifera

Family: Arecaceae

Genus: Phoenix

Date palms thrive in hot dry areas (temperate zones) like the Middle East, Australia, North Africa and California. They are little oval-shaped dark fruits measuring 3-7 cm long, 2-3 cm wide and are very sweet.

There are several types of dates which include Medjool (most popular and widely available), Hallawi, Barhi, Khardawi and Amir Haji among others.

Dates are arguably the richest source of vitamins (A, B and K) and other important minerals (manganese, iron, potassium, copper and calcium ).

The most important property however is the fiber content. In this case, we’re looking at the special beta-glucan soluble fiber which is best known for its cholesterol reduction potency. They are also very high in calories; which is why you’re advised not to over indulge and only include a handful in your diet.

You will get approximately 5 grams of fiber, 14% of daily potassium required value and about 200 calories from 3 of these wonderful fruits!

This is all thanks to the low water content which allows the date fruit to act and have the same dietary nutritional effect as dried fruit, naturally.

The Science Behind Dates and Cholesterol Levels

Studies have shown without a doubt that eating 4 to 5 dates a day for one month can improve triglyceride (lipids) levels in your blood without the risk of increasing your blood sugar.

This makes dates safe for individuals with mild but persistent high blood sugar problems (hyperglycemia). It’s the perfect snack for the sweet tooth!

Cholesterol in the blood only becomes dangerous when it’s oxidized to form tiny fat granules that attach to the walls of your arteries (arterosclesis) causing blockage and eventually heart disease.

How then can this oxidation be stopped or controlled to a minimum? Simple, dates have natural anti-oxidants in the form of lutein, zea-xanthin and β-carotine. These antioxidants inhibit the formation of fat molecules from the cholesterol in your blood thus helping you keep your arteries as clean as a whistle!

Dates can also improve the level of blood cholesterol in your body by providing you with fiber that helps regulate bad LDL cholesterol. This works in 2 major steps…

Step 1: The beta-glucan soluble fiber binds the cholesterol in food to prevent it from being absorbed in the blood. It does the same to the cholesterol contained in bile acids that your body produces for digestion. All this cholesterol is excreted from your body as waste.

Step 2: Since the body must produce more digestive bile juices using cholesterol, more cholesterol is drawn from your blood which consequently lowers blood cholesterol levels.

How Much is Enough When it Comes to Dates?

Owing to their natural high sugar content (between 60% & 70%), eating too many of these sweet wonders will give you extra calories thus you will likely gain weight if the calories aren’t burned effectively!

Please note that 25% of your blood’s cholesterol comes from the food you eat while the rest is manufactured internally by your own body. Eating controlled quantities (3 -5 dates per day) ensures that you stay healthy without risking rising blood sugar levels or gaining weight.

Final Word

Dates are the second best blood cholesterol regulators after apples but they lead the pack when it comes to the amount of nutrients and minerals available in any fruit.

They have high contents of the all important soluble Beta-Glucan fiber which helps you lower cholesterol as highlighted above. The potassium contained in dates also helps in preventing strokes and heart diseases.

Finally, dates have antioxidants that prevent blood cholesterol from forming harmful fat molecules that stick on the walls in your arteries sometimes causing life threatening conditions.

Remember that high cholesterol has no symptoms therefore you are advised to check in with your doctor regularly to keep a close watch on cholesterol levels.

So… are dates good for cholesterol? The answer is a resounding “YES!”

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11 thoughts on “Are Dates Good For Cholesterol?

  1. Haha!! If dates were great for your cholesterol, I should imagine this Tinder generation are all ridiculously healthy!! 😛
    on a more seriosus note… I didn’t know apples were also great for your cholesterol too – I can’t say Im overly keen on dates, so would probably be more inclined to use apples as an alternative, but I will make an effort to add them into my diet having read this article.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi ,
    I knew that oats are good to reduce cholesterol because of their fiber that solves in water, but I didn’t know that from dates. Interesting that dates have also other properties to reduce the cholesterol . I tried dates a few times, and I can say I like the taste, but I don’t like the structure. I see them always in a pack, and looks dried I think, but with lots of sugar. Do you know if there is another way to consume dates ?

    1. You can buy fresh dates in various formats Robert but most of them will come dried. The sugar they contain is only natural fruit sugar…unless you opted for a really dodgy date packing company! 🙂

  3. Hi Chris, thanks for the truckload of useful info about the dates.
    I live in the Middle East, and date palms trees line the roads. I can find them fresh and still green, when they are crunchy and not yet sweet, semi-ripe (my favorite ones! half sour and crunchy, half sweet and soft), ripe and then dried.
    There are many kinds, like the apples, but when I go to my home country in Europe I can see that very few choice is available. Pity, but the available ones are very good.
    I’m sure they have great anti cholesterol properties as local people in the Middle East eat too much food stuffed with cholesterol, yet they seem not to suffer from the related diseases as we do in the Western countries.
    My personal tip: eat at least 3 dates every day!
    Cheers, Alma

  4. Hi there, thanks for this informative post about dates. I have to say that I wouldn’t really eat many dates, I think it’s the texture and they are so so sweet.
    I have a question however about dries apricots and prunes. Are they also very high in calories like dates? Are they good at lowering cholesterol too?

  5. This is an interesting food topic. I’m more of a doughnut guy myself but my wife and I do get into the health kicks a lot. So I will have to give these a shot on our next date with the diet she puts me on HAHA.

    On a serious note though I do like dried fruits and I haven’t tried these before and I’m sure the kids will love them to. They need something other than a bag of Cheetos for a snack anyways!

    This is a very informative post thanks for sharing!

    1. You haven’t tried dates before? Man you need to step away from the Cheetos and get some of nature’s treats in your life. From the sounds of this I’m guessing you are from the US David – no excuse…there are plenty of healthy options in your supermarkets too! 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment mate!

  6. Thanks again Chris for some great information I really didn’t know.
    As a runner I need snacks on the go and I think Dates sound like a good option or are they too high in fibre? Any thoughts on this.
    I tried candy marathoning here in the tropics and it was like trying to chew cement when I was dehydrated. I also prefer to snack on something with nutritional benefits so these sound good.
    I have also heard of dates being used as a natural sweetener in cakes made with whole-wheat flour which is something I might try, I may use oatmeal though as I don’t like the idea of any flour.
    Have you any experience cooking with dates?

    1. Hi Alison,

      I don’t personally have any experience with cooking (or baking) with them but my partner does quite regularly as they’re a great alternative to sugar in dessert recipes. She usually sort of grinds them down into a paste-like substance which is easy to add to various cakes and sweets.

      They are quite high in fiber but as far as TOO high goes…I don’t think so?

      Also, oatmeal is a great healthy alternative to flour – go for it! 🙂

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