Dates are chewy and sweet fruits packed with lots of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. They grow on the date palm tree, also known as “Phoenix Dactylifera”, widely cultivated across northern and southern Africa and the Middle East.
However, you don’t have to go to Africa to get dates; you will find dried dates in all the supermarkets worldwide. And why should you add them to your shopping cart? Because they are true nutritional powerhouses, and in this article, we will explore just that.
Table of Contents
- Dates Benefits
- 1. Help relieve constipation
- 2. Provide a high amount of antioxidants
- 3. Great substitute for white sugar
- 4. May help with sugar regulation
- 5. May help improve brain function
- 6. May help with labor for women
- 7. May help boost bone health
- 8. Give you lots of nutrients in an easy pack
- 9. May improve your immune system
Let’s talk about 9 benefits of dates and why you should add them to your diet.
1. Help relieve constipation
Dates are very high in fiber, making them an efficient natural laxative that helps relieve constipation and support digestion.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating 7 dates a day for 21 days can significantly improve stool frequency and bowel movement.
So, if you’re suffering from constipation, you should start your day with dates. Add them to your morning smoothie, yogurt, or salad. More than that, you can take a bag of dried dates to work for a healthy snack in between calls.
Dates have been used for treating constipation for a long time now, as they also support your digestive health. A small 2015 study has shown that date consumption may reduce the risk of colon cancer thanks to its high fiber and polyphenol content.
Don’t forget to combine a good diet with an active lifestyle to keep your body up and healthy.
2. Provide a high amount of antioxidants
Dates are an antioxidant powerhouse, rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and carotenoids, which help prevent the risk of chronic disease. In fact, dates have the highest antioxidant content of all the similar types of dried fruits.
Although much more epidemiological evidence is needed, current studies show that polyphenols can lower the risk of cancer or heart disease.
Flavonoids are also important antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of diabetes, cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.
As for carotenoids, research shows they may promote heart health and reduce the risk of eye diseases, such as macular degeneration.
More than that, dates are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin K, iron, calcium, manganese, potassium, and zinc. So, add dates to your grocery list and enjoy all these amazing benefits.
3. Great substitute for white sugar
Dates are a great source of fructose, so you can use them to naturally sweeten your food while also benefiting from their high fiber content. In other words, you won’t just get sweet empty calories. Using dates as a natural sweetener will also add fiber to your diet, and that’s a good thing!
Enrich and sweeten your morning porridge with dates. If you love homemade muesli bars, sweeten them with dates. If you love baking sweets from time to time, use dates to sweeten them rather than sugar.
You will satisfy your sweet tooth and increase your fiber and antioxidant intake, which is just what your body needs.
Besides, dates have a great caramel-like taste, and they are rich in nutrients and vitamins such as iron, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, potassium, and protein.
If you think you can’t replace sugar with dates, think again. By mixing dates with water in a blender, you will get a sweet paste you can use to sweeten everything from coffee to tea or cakes.
4. May help with sugar regulation
OK, let’s stick to sugar content for a while. We all know that the white powder we use to sweeten our food is no good, and we should always look for alternatives.
Despite having a significant calorie amount, dates have a relatively low glycemic index. This means they won’t spike your blood sugar levels, making them a safe choice for people with diabetes.
According to a recent study, 100 people with type-2 diabetes had 3 dates per day for sixteen weeks. The results showed a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol (aka “bad” cholesterol). Moreover, the test subjects’ sugar levels did not change, indicating that the sweetness of the dates had no effect on their sugar levels, which is excellent for people who have or are at risk of diabetes.
The same study also noted that test subjects reported improvements in both their quality of life and their mental health.
5. May help improve brain function
Studies suggest that eating dates as part of a balanced diet may help improve brain function and promote brain health.
Laboratories tests have found dates to be efficient in lowering inflammatory markers in the brain and preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Let’s not forget that dates have important anti-inflammatory properties due to their high content of antioxidants, helping combat oxidative stress and providing a promising therapeutic potential for brain health.
Moreover, animal studies have shown how dates can efficiently reduce the activity of plaque-forming amyloid beta proteins. These protein build-ups can impair the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, disrupting the brain’s cognitive function. Preventing the formation of brain plaque can improve memory and even boost brain activity.
Just another great reason to start eating dates every day!
6. May help with labor for women
Dates have long been believed to help induce labor. They might also help shorten labor for pregnant women. In 2013, one study involving 200 pregnant women showed that eating dates can help soften the cervix before delivery.
According to another similar study, pregnant women who ate 6 dates a day 4 weeks before their due date experienced a shorter first stage of labor and their cervix was much softer before delivery. Moreover, the women who ate dates were 20% more likely to go into natural labor than those who didn’t.
Dates might boost the oxytocin effect, helping the uterus contract, and inducing labor.
Dates are still being studied to see how they help ease long labors for pregnant women, and while more research is needed, the results we have so far look promising for women in their last month of pregnancy.
7. May help boost bone health
Dates are high in bone-friendly minerals and vitamins, such as selenium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin K, known for their potential to prevent bone-related conditions, such as osteoporosis.
So, if you want to keep your bones strong and healthy, add dates to your diet. They might help!
8. Give you lots of nutrients in an easy pack
Dates are pretty versatile, as you can easily pair them with many other foods for delicious combinations. If you don’t know how to add dates to your diet, don’t worry, you’ll learn it super fast.
So, first and foremost, you can eat dates as snacks while having a break from work or in between office meetings. They also pair well with soft cheese or nuts. So, if you have a few around, you can make an extra healthy plate.
You can also add dates to salads. Slice them, dice them, whatever you want, they will still add a marvelous flavor, and you will get those amazing health benefits.
If you’re a smoothie kind of girl or guy, throw a few dates in there, blend them together with your usual smoothie ingredients, and you’ll satisfy your sweet tooth without adding other artificial sweeteners.
Dates are an integral part of Moroccan or Middle Eastern cuisine. So, if you’re interested to look for them, you will find many traditional recipes that have dates as the centerpiece.
You can also puree dates into protein balls to add some fiber and extra sweetness to your diet.
Should we remind you why to do that? Let’s do a round-up of all the important nutrients and vitamins you can find in dates.
One serving (100-gram) of dates will provide your body with 12% of the vitamin B6 RDI, 5% of the iron RDI, 15% of the manganese RDI, 18% of the copper RDI, 14% of the magnesium RDI, and 20% of the potassium RDI. You also get 2 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. But be cautious that dates might also pack some mean calories.
And more than anything, it’s easy to get these nutrients and vitamins. Dates are fun and simple, aren’t they?
9. May improve your immune system
Dates are rich in different vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and are sweet without raising your blood sugar. Can it get better than that?
Well, studies suggest that they can also stimulate the immune system. Eating foods that have so much nutritious value is always going to improve your health and general well-being.
Let’s remember that dates are rich in iron – an essential mineral that helps prevent the onset of anemia. The potassium in them can ward off strokes.
The fiber content will help your digestion, highly influencing your well-being, and the list of benefits goes on.
However, don’t forget that dates also pack up a few more carbs and calories than you’d like, so don’t go over the top with them; eat dates in moderation.