The health benefits of fruits, especially those containing antioxidants, have long been touted, but a new study out of Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology shows a combination of pomegranates and dates specifically can help ward off heart attacks, The Times of Israel reported.
Researchers at the Israeli university found that daily consumption of as little as half a glass of pomegranate juice, alongside just three dates, can significantly reduce atherosclerosis, the thickening of arterial walls which is linked to heart attacks and strokes.
Both dates and pomegranates are closely associated with the land of Israel. They are two of the Seven Species which exemplify the fertility of the land which God promised His people. Israel is also described as a land “flowing with milk and honey”, which comes from dates rather than bees.
Throughout the Bible and Jewish tradition, both pomegranates and dates are seen as a symbol of blessing. The date palm represents old age and wisdom, while the pomegranate, with its many seeds, represents fertility and good deeds. Both are traditionally consumed on the Jewish New Year to symbolize the blessings hoped for in the coming year.
Prof. Michael Aviram of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Rambam Hospital led the study. According to The Jerusalem Post, he and his team were familiar with the strengths of both pomegranates and dates in fighting heart disease. They suspected that since each contained different antioxidants, their combined powers might be greater than the sum of their parts.
The trial was performed on arterial cells in culture and on mice with atherosclerosis. The researchers found that the pomegranate juice along with whole dates, including their pits, reduced oxidative stress in the arterial wall by 33 percent and decreased arterial cholesterol content by 28 percent, providing maximum effect. Even without the pits, which the researchers recommend grinding to a paste to eat, the combined benefits of the fruit are greater than each one on its own.
The study was recently published in Food & Function, a journal of Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry.