One ounce of dates provides heart healthy nutrients along with vitamin B6. B6 is said to remove the amino acid homocysteine from the blood, as this amino acid is linked to the onset of cardiovascular diseases. Dates are also a good source of iron, which is recommended in the treatment of anemia. Moderate consumption of dates twice a week is recommended in order to improve cardiovascular health.
The American Heart Association recommends the intake of a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dates, to maintain a healthy heart. The USDA promotes the consumption of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet as ideal to remain healthy. DASH recommends the intake of high potassium and low sodium foods; both of these requirements are fulfilled by dates. A study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension in 2015 concluded that consumption of a high potassium and low sodium diet has beneficial effects on blood pressure. Potassium is also essential for heart health, as it helps maintain a steady heart beat. Any imbalance in the blood potassium levels can lead to irregular heartbeats, which can sometimes have severe effects.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension studied the role of magnesium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease and suggests that magnesium can increase the effectiveness of drugs used to control hypertension. Other studies have shown that magnesium assists in heart muscle relaxation, thereby lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The consumption of dietary magnesium, along with potassium and a low sodium intake, is beneficial in reducing blood pressure.
Date fruits improve heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attack by decreasing LDL cholesterol (a cardiovascular disease risk factor). A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2015 found that the antioxidant content of dates has a potential cholesterol lowering effect, as well as an anti-atherogenic outcome, which decreases the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the formation of plaques in the blood vessels and is also linked to cardiovascular diseases.
Dates provide a fair amount of fiber which is associated with positive weight management and lower blood cholesterol levels. The Harvard School of Public health suggests that fiber intake is recommended in order to avoid heart disease, as its consumption is linked to a healthy lipid profile. Fiber is also correlated to decreased triglycerides, meaning that less fat is carried around the body.
Overall, dates can be considered an excellent food choice because they provide a panoply of nutrients and potential health benefits for the heart.
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Houston, M. (2011). The role of magnesium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich), 13(11), pp. 843-7. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22051430
Borochov-Neori, H., Judeinstein, S., Greenberg, A., Volkova, N., Rosenblat, M., & Aviram, M. (2015). Antioxidant and Antiatherogenic Properties of Phenolic Acid and Flavonol Fractions of Fruits of ‘Amari’ and ‘Hallawi’ Date (Phoenix dactylifera L.) Varieties. J Agric Food Chem, 63(12), pp. 3189-95. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25765921
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