Claims About the World's No.1 Food for Heart Attack, Stroke, High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

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WHAT IS THE TRENDING NEWS STORY

The World's No.1 food for Heart Attack, Stroke, High blood pressure, and Cholesterol

An online article published on 15 February 2017 claims that the date fruit, from the date palm, will in 'no time soothe many health problems', such as strokes, heart attacks, cholesterol and hypertension.

WHY THE STORY HAS MISINFORMATION

A recommended daily diet of fruit and vegetables has been shown to reduce the oxidative damage of DNA bases in humans, protect against heart disease and protect against lipid peroxidation. The antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds in dates is found to be comparable to those in standard antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and β-carotene.[1] Therefore, there isn't a single "magic" food that protects against heart diseases. Instead, an all-around healthy eating strategy is good enough for maintaining the adequate systemic functioning of the body.[2]

A serving of 1/4 cup of Medjool dates has 111 calories, which is high given the small serving size. A pound of body weight is equal to 3,500 calories, so regularly consuming dates can lead to a caloric buildup, which may subsequently lead to weight gain.[3] Any food that is high in energy density, i.e. calories per gram, will lead to weight gain without consuming a large amount of the food. Dates are known to contain around 2.8 calories per gram, a number which stands at almost double than that of low energy density foods which have only 1.5 calories per gram.[4]

Due to their high sugar content, dates are considered a high glycemic food. The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly a food affects your blood glucose levels. Dates have a GI score of 103, while glucose is measured at 100. They are also a high glycemic-load food, which is a measurement of how much the carbohydrate content of a food affects blood sugar levels. Dates contain a high level of carbohydrates, with around 40 grams per 2-ounce serving, which translates to a high glycemic load of 42. Excessive consumption of high glycemic index and glycemic load foods can increase the risk of developing obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease.[3] Ironically, this is the opposite of what the article in question is claiming.

Dates contain a large amount of the fruit fiber pectin,[5] which has the potential to cause increased intestinal cramping and peristalsis by overwhelming the bacteria in the gut. Pectin build up in the gut can also cause the formation of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The net result is that one may experience abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea.[6]

Since dates are fermented dry fruits which are known release histamine, increased consumption of the product can cause allergies. They also contain salicylates, a type of chemical found in certain plants, which may be responsible for inducing allergy-like symptoms in some people.[4]

Dates are also not recommended for babies and infants because the thickness and elasticity of the fruit makes it very hard for them to digest.[4]

REFERENCES

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440559/
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/beating-high-blood-pressure-with-food
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.livestrong.com/article/507760-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-dates/
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 https://www.curejoy.com/content/side-effects-of-eating-dates/
  5. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28  
  6. http://www.livestrong.com/article/445440-side-effects-of-pectin/

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