Fancy a date?
Dates, derived from the date palm tree are an ancient fruit, going back to around 5000 B.C.E. Versatile, sweet to taste, easy to incorporate into recipes, and highly nutritious, dates are a great addition to anyone's diet. In many parts of the world, dates are a staple food.
Today, dates are as popular as ever. High in vitamins and minerals, dates are rich, delicious fruits. But what makes these fruits so healthy? How many dates should you eat a day? Can you have too much of a good thing?
Let's find out. In this guide, we'll be looking at the health benefits of dates, their nutritional value, and whether you should add them to your diet today.
1. High In Nutrients
Dates are high in nutrients. You can eat dried or fresh dates, but be aware that dried dates, like other dried fruits, have a higher calorie content.
Mostly, we need to get our vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat. Eating junk food or fast food every now and then is fine, presuming we're getting what we need. Plant-based foods are the best way of getting this.
Here's just some of the nutrition you'll get from a serving of dates:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Adding date palm fruits to your diet is a surefire way of keeping yourself healthy. They make a great snack, without giving you empty calories. Dates contribute to good brain function and good heart health.
2. High Fiber Content
Fiber is absolutely essential to good digestive health. It may keep blood sugar levels balanced after eating, and ensures that bowel movements are regular and healthy.
Aside from blood sugar management, high-fiber foods are great if you're trying to lose weight. Dealing with cravings can be a serious obstacle to weight loss. Sugary, high-calorie foods tend to leave us hungry again soon after eating. Foods like dates provide plenty of energy and nutrients, but their high-fiber content makes us feel fuller for longer.
3. High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants have a great effect on the body. Conversely, oxidation can cause a number of health conditions. For example, oxidating cholesterol particles harden in the arteries, leading to heart strain and other diseases over time. Antioxidants help to fight against this.
Dates are a similar kind of fruit to figs and plums. However, dates have the highest level of antioxidants of them all. They contain three main kinds of antioxidant.
An anti-inflammatory, this antioxidant may work towards reducing chances of cancer and heart issues.
This antioxidant is especially good for heart health. It also helps to prevent macular degeneration. This helps to keep your eyes healthy, too!
Flavnoids are also an anti-inflammatory. While they also help with the heart and possible cancer reduction, they also improve brain function.
4. Improves Bowel Function
The high levels of fiber contained in date fruit are excellent for the gut and bowel function. Regular consumption of dates helps to keep your bowel movements healthy and regular, as well as reducing levels of ammonia in your system.
This also contributes to a healthy gut. A healthful gut is something that affects the whole body. It can even cause subtle changes to your mood. Eating a balanced diet is crucial to good gut health, and foods like dates can help give your gut a needed boost.
Foods like date fruit, prunes, and figs have long been considered a "traditional" remedy for constipation. They certainly are a sensible food for someone struggling with bowel function, as well as a snack with an enjoyable taste.
5. Helps to Fight Infections
Dates contain acetone and methanol. These extracts can be very useful in fighting bacterial infections, even more serious infections like pneumonia and E-coli. They can even help reduce the side effects associated with certain medications.
Of course, many healthful foods contain properties that help them defend against microbial infections. However, dates have the highest levels of antimicrobial properties.
6. May Promote Smooth, Natural Labor
The later stages of pregnancy can be a tricky, stressful time. Natural labor is usually preferred amongst pregnant women, although complications can arise. Some studies indicate that eating dates give a pregnant person a higher chance of delivering their baby naturally, with fewer hours of labor.
This is because the compounds in dates reduce the need for oxytocin, helping to increase the chance of healthy, productive contractions during labor. Tannin, also related to dates, has a similar effect. All of this aids the birth process, making labor quicker and more productive for pregnant women. This means that the person shouldn't tire out too soon, being able to deliver their baby naturally.
7. Reduces Cancer Risk
The antioxidant benefits of dates may prevent cancer cells from growing and multiplying. However, they aren't a magic fruit that guarantees cancer potential. To get the nutrition and health benefits from any good food, you need to be consuming it regularly. Introducing dates into your diet now may well reduce your risk of developing cancer in later life.
Interestingly, when consumed regularly, dates may also reduce chances of developing benign tumors.
8. May Help to Manage Diabetes
Diabetes is a common illness, which can be managed. However, a diabetic needs to be careful when eating fruit. Fruit are healthy, but they're also high in sweet natural sugars, which may cause blood sugar spikes. Fruit juices in particular can be dangerously sugary.
When eaten in moderation, dates can have a positive effect on diabetic sufferers. This is because dates encourage the production of insulin. While more studies are needed, there is definite reason to believe that dates have particular health benefits for diabetics. Feel free to seek medical advice if you need it before consuming dates if you're diabetic.
9. Good for Kidney Health
Kidney problems a serious, growing issue in the world. Dates may well help to keep our kidneys healthy and strong. One particular kind of date in middle east Asia is said to help prevent kidney lesions by forming a protective layer around the kidney. Dates may reduce excesses of urea and other substances in the kidneys, which is great for good kidney health.
While more studies are needed, it's clear that the nutrition and health benefits of dates are definitely not to be underestimated!
10. Promotes Good Bone Health
Strong bones require certain micronutrients. Often, the only way of obtaining these micronutrients is through the foods we eat. As we get older, strong bones becomes even more important. Chances of breaking bones or even osteoporosis become much greater.
As we mentioned earlier, dates are high in micronutrients like manganese, copper, and magnesium. These minerals are crucial for good bone health. If you're suffering from an issue that causes weak bones, adding dates to your diet is definitely recommended.
11. Promotes Good Neurological Functioning
The neurological system is sometimes described as the wiring that keeps the vehicle of the body going. Issues with the nervous system can therefore be extremely serious. Dates are a good source of potassium, which is good for a proper-functioning nervous system.
It also contains low levels of sodium, which is bad for the nervous system. High sodium levels can cause hypertension, or high blood pressure. This can cause damage to the nervous system, which will, in turn, affect the whole body.
12. Skincare Benefits
Skin problems are very common, ranging from "normal" acne to more serious complaints, like dermatitis. While you can cover over these problems with makeup, that isn't going to deal with the root cause of the problem.
The issue could be as simple as a vitamin deficiency. Dates contain high levels of vitamin C and D, as well as a plethora of other vitamins and minerals. These help to promote elasticity, as well as keeping it hydrated and nourished. This can give the kind of healthy, glowing skin that we all dream of.
13. Reduces Hair Loss Risk
Dates are also a good source of iron. Iron helps with blood circulation, and will make sure that plenty of blood gets to your scalp. A healthful, nourished scalp is a great way to avoid hair loss. It can help promote new hair growth, and reduce the risk of hair loss.
Even better, dates don't come with side effects like many hair loss medications.
14. Helps to Beat Sweet Cravings
Sugar is addictive, and many people don't realise just how much. Dates are very sweet, due to their high levels of natural sugar. Like many fruits, they're a great between-meals snack for good weight loss.
If you find yourself craving sugar, try munching on a date or some other dry, sweet fruit. It'll provide the sugary kick you're craving, while also giving you nutrients and plenty of fiber. This kind of snack also makes you feel fuller for longer. The nutrients also help fight against fatigue, so this snack will give you the energy you need to keep going.
What to Watch Out For
It's recommended to eat around 100g of dates a day. However, if you're not sure, feel free to consult a nutritionist or other medical professional.
Like many other fruits that help to regulate the bowels (prunes, figs, and so on) too many dates can produce a laxative effect. If you're not suffering from constipation, this isn't going to be pleasant. So, while dates are a fantastic addition to anyone's daily nourishment, be sure to eat them in moderation.
A cup of dates might be rich in protein, but they're also high in calories. Too many dates can lead to weight gain. Dried dates in particular have high levels of sugar and calories. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy fresh (or even dried) dates if you're trying to lose weight. However, take into account the extra calories and sugar you're taking in.
If you suffer from kidney disease, it's good to consult a doctor before eating large quantities of dates every day. One of the health benefits of dates is that it aids good kidney health, but, related to this, dates are also high in potassium. Too much of this can be problematic for someone with kidney disease.
It's unlikely that you'll experience a reaction to dates, but it isn't impossible. Dried dates in particular contain sulfites, which may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Keep an eye out for some of these symptoms soon after eating dates:
- Rash or itching
- Stomach pain
If you've had reactions to dried fruit before, it might be wise to skip the dried dates.
Should You Add Dates to Your Diet?
Absolutely. Dates are rich in nutrients, natural sugar and plenty of fiber. While you should eat dates in moderation, they make a fantastic energy-boosting snack, particularly medjool dates.
Dates taste great and are a perfect on-the-go snack, and fresh dates a perfect breakfast food.
But it doesn't need to stop there. There are countless recipes available for foods containing dates. This fruit is versatile!
It has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes good heart health, good brain function, as well as strong, fully-functioning bones and kidneys and high energy levels. When consumed regularly, dates may help give the neurological and immune systems a good boost. On top of this, dates can make us look better, with healthy skin and hair.
Eating dates as part of a healthful, balanced lifestyle is certainly something you should consider.