The California Date Administrative Committee (CDAC) and the Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association (BVMDGA) have commissioned new research to determine the extent of antioxidants and polyphenols in dates.

Early studies have shown exceptionally high levels, well above that for other fruit.

Charlene Rainey will oversee the date nutrition studies and serve as nutrition spokesperson for the California and Arizona date industries. Rainey is president of Food Research, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in nutrition and federal, state, and international food laws and regulations.

The full scientific findings of the new studies will be presented at the American Dietetic Association (ADA) annual conference. The ADA is the policy maker for professional dietitians who treat patients for obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.

"Dates are already known to contain dietary fiber and potassium, have no cholesterol, fat or sodium, as well as containing fluoride that retards tooth decay," Rainey said. "Dates are clearly a healthful food even without the antioxidant studies."

The California and Arizona date industries will benefit from the study, said Albert Keck, CDAC chairman and owner of Hadley's Date Gardens in Thermal.

"Whether Medjool or Deglet Noor, Khadrawy, Halawi or other varieties of dates, the good news coming out of the pilot nutrition studies is all part of the same positive story," said Dave Mansheim, BVMDGA president.

"We are excited about the potential dates may have in attracting many more consumers because of the preliminary antioxidant research results so far,” Mansheim said.

Recent studies by University of Scranton, Pennsylvania chemistry professor Joseph Vinson found Deglet Noor and Medjool dates were ranked the highest in antioxidant levels among the fruits tested.

“This is roughly 2 percent per gram,” Vinson said. “Dates are number one in antioxidant capacity by weight in a comparison of other fruits and vegetables.”