Dates may have some really powerful health benefits like boosting energy, increasing iron in the body, and aiding digestion. Rich in various nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, dates are popular throughout the world. These dried fruits may prove to be beneficial in treating various conditions due to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties.
Dates are often associated with dessert; their natural sweetness and rich flavor are indeed decadent. But this nutritious fruit can actually offer some pretty impressive health benefits. Here are seven ways dates can protect your health, and simple ways to incorporate this super fruit into meals, snacks, drinks, and treats.
What are Dates?
Dates are the sweet, chewy fruit of the date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera). Dates have been the staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. Muslims consider date palms and dates sacred, and throughout the religious fasting period of Ramadan, these dried fruits are a common ingredient in the diet. Each date can be about 60 to 70 percent sugar and a high amount of fiber, depending on the variety, which makes it ideal as a healthy energy booster. It is also high in iron and may help in fighting anemia.
Dates are now popular all over the world and are used as a natural sweetener in smoothies, juices, nutrition bars, and baked products like cakes and muffins. You can buy also premium varieties that are stuffed with almonds or peanut butter and specialty products like date molasses, a sweet sticky syrup that can be drizzled on pancakes or porridge.
Dates are nutrient-richThree dates provide about 200 calories, 54 grams of carbohydrates with about 5 grams as fiber, a gram of protein, and no fat. This size portion also supplies smaller amounts of a wide range of nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and manganese. In other words, dates aren’t simply sugar bombs or empty calories.
Dates contain several vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber and antioxidants. However, they are high in calories since they are a dried fruit.
Dates have an excellent nutrition profile.
Since they’re dried, their calorie content is higher than most fresh fruit. The calorie content of dates is similar to that of other dried fruits, such as raisins and figs.
Most of the calories in dates come from carbs. The rest are from a very small amount of protein. Despite their calories, dates contain some important vitamins and minerals in addition to a significant amount of fiber.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 277
- Carbs: 75 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Potassium: 20% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
- Copper: 18% of the RDI
- Manganese: 15% of the RDI
- Iron: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI
Dates are also high in antioxidants, which may contribute to many of their health benefits
Health BenefitsLet us look at some of the key health benefits of dates in detail below.
Can Be Good Source of Energy
Dates are high in natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. The high energy present in them can be attributed to this high sugar content. Many people around the world are estimated to eat natural low-fat dates for a quick afternoon snack when they are feeling lethargic or sluggish to help bump up energy levels fast.
Often when you exercise in a gym, outside, or even on a stretching machine at home, you feel exhausted. A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition suggests that dates rich in essential nutrients may help you regain your energy immediately. 
People who follow Islam and observe fasting break their fast by eating them along with water. This also helps avoid overeating food once the fast is over.
May Boost Brain HealthA study led by Musthafa Mohamed Essa, Ph.D. et al. suggest that dates may protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. According to research, “date palm fruits are a good source of dietary fiber and are rich in total phenolics and natural antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ferulic acid, protocatechuic acid, and caffeic acid”. The presence of these polyphenolic compounds may potentially help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Can Potentially Relieve Constipation
In traditional Tunisian medicine, dates are used for treating constipation. A serving of 100 grams of Medjool dates provides 6.7 grams of dietary fiber. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry also suggests that these dried fruits have high levels of dietary fiber and insoluble fiber, in particular. The insoluble fiber found in dates may potentially promote healthy digestion by bulking up the stool and may also aid in relieving the symptoms of constipation.
How to use: Start by soaking dates in water overnight to help them soften. Next, add soaked dates and a bit of the soaking liquid to a food processor and blend to make a thick, fiber-rich date paste.
Might Offer Relief from Intestinal DisordersResearch suggests dates contain insoluble and soluble fibers, as well as many beneficial amino acids that may stimulate the digestion of food and ensure quick passage through the gastrointestinal tract. According to a review published in the Journal of Nutrition Reviews, fiber may also aid in the treatment of conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diverticulitis, and hemorrhoids.
May Offer Relief from AnemiaDates can be a good source of many nutrients, including iron. A deficiency of iron can contribute to anemia, a condition characterized by fatigue, dizziness, brittle nails, and shortness of breath. Fortunately, increasing your intake of iron-rich foods such as dates may help provide relief from anemia symptoms.
Can Potentially Treat Sexual Dysfunction
There are many benefits of dates for men but this makes for one of the most important ones.
In 2006, an animal study revealed the effects of date palm pollen and its oil on sexual functioning, reporting that the high levels of estradiol and flavonoid components in dates are helping increase sperm count and motility. Another study conducted in India states that date palm pollen may have been used to treat male infertility in traditional medicine.
Therefore, if you are looking for an easy way to boost your libido and sexual function, you may consider consuming organic dates, thanks to their aphrodisiac-like properties.
How to use: Soak a handful of dates in fresh goat’s milk overnight, then grind them in the same milk with a mixture of cardamom powder and honey. However, consulting with a trusted medical practitioner before trying is strongly recommended to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Can Prevent Night BlindnessAccording to an article in the Heart Views journal, dates are rich in carotenoids, which may help prevent night blindness and preserve healthy vision.
Might Help Treat Chronic DiarrheaAccording to an article published by the Columbia University Medical Center, foods rich in potassium such as dates may help replace and replete electrolytes lost due to chronic diarrhea. Thanks to their high fiber content, they may also aid in digestion and alleviate the unpredictable nature of chronic diarrhea.
Can Aid Bone Health Improvement
A publication by Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., et al., and colleagues of North Dakota State University suggests that dates contain boron which is amongst the nutrients that promote healthy bones. A study published in the Journal of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition suggests that significant amounts of minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium found in dried fruits may make them a superfood for strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating diseases like osteoporosis.
Organic pitted dates may contain selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, all of which may aid in managing bone health, particularly amongst older adults.
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May Promote Healthy Weight Gain
According to USDA, these dried fruits are rich in sugar along with proteins, and many other essential vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber, which can aid in weight management. Medjool dates are easily available in grocery markets and make for a healthy and delicious snack!
An animal study conducted in 2014 suggested that intake of dates may aid in weight gain. However, another animal study done in 2016 indicated no such increase in weight. Given the conflicting reports, more research is needed to support this benefit.
Can Potentially Aid in Relieving SAR SymptomsAccording to a study conducted in 2012, dates may have a positive impact on SAR (Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis), a condition that affects approximately 30 million people in the United States alone. The study published in Inflammatory Research found that date palm immunotherapy was effective at decreasing several markers of inflammation in patients with allergic rhinitis.
How to Eat?
Apart from eating them as is, people consume them in several ways.
- Mix the paste of the dates with milk and yogurt.
- Use the date paste as a bread spread as part of a delicious and healthy breakfast.
- Add date crumbles to your cereal and porridge.
- Use date sugar, which is the dried variety ground into tiny pieces.
Word of Caution: Although these dried fruits carry tremendous nutritional value, great care should be taken in their selection because their surface is very sticky, which may attract various impurities.
Finally, keep in mind that dried dates are relatively high in sugar and calories, which may contribute to weight gain and other health issues if consumed in excess. Therefore, it’s best to keep intake in moderation and enjoy it as part of a healthy, balanced diet to maximize the potential health benefits.
Dates are a very healthy fruit to include in your diet.
They are high in several nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, all of which may provide health benefits ranging from improved digestion to a reduced risk of disease.
There are several ways to add dates to your diet. One popular way to eat them is as a natural sweetener in various dishes. They also make a great snack.
It’s easiest to find dates in their dried form, though these are higher in calories than fresh fruit so it is important to eat them in moderation.
Dates are definitely worth adding to your diet, as they are both nutritious and delicious.