Fresh dates are harvested after a short period of maturation (5-6 months) in the tree. They must be kept in the fridge and they are widely cultivated in Israel from where most of the European imports come. Dates are a rich source of fiber and a special group of antioxidants that attach themselves to harmful, oxygen-free radicals and remove them from the body.
Research conducted by Prof. Michael Aviram and colleagues from Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center and Technion- Israel Institute of Technology, published (2013) in the prestigious Journal of Agriculture Food Chemistry demonstrated that all nine varieties of dates grown in Israel and found on any supermarket shelf have characteristics that make them better than other varieties at helping protect those who consume them against cardiovascular diseases. Already in 2009 Aviram was the first to show that antioxidants from the group of polyphenols found in pomegranates, red wine and olive oil help remove plaque from inside the arteries. In the new research, the team found that dates can bring about the slowing and even regression of atherosclerosis (accumulation of fatty plaque) in the coronary arteries, and that eating one of the the three specific date varieties is most effective. The material in dates has the clear ability to speed up the removal of excess cholesterol from endothelial cells inside blood vessels, the team said. The most effective varieties are the yellow Barhi, Deri, Medjool and Halawi. The other date varieties are Amari, Deglet, Noor, Hadrawi and Hayani.