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?
Interested in a 3 week Diet and Workout Plan that can change the way you look at food? Find out more HERE
Dates: Desert or Sub-tropical sweet, dense and chewy fruits
Plant: Palm tree (nicknamed “tree of life”)
Scientific Name: Phoenix dactylifera
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.
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!”