Are you looking to enrich your daily diet with more natural nutrient foods, rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins? Are you also looking for a healthy natural substitute for nutrient-void table sugar to use in your foods and snacks? Then look no further than dates!
Dates are the fruit of palm trees. The date fruit is one of the sweetest fruits around. It comes in many different varieties ranging from Medjool (a rich-tasting desert delight) to acai (a tropical palm fruit), but most of the dates we see in the healthfood stores are typically desert types.
Apart from their delicious sweet flavor, they are one of richest source of healthy fiber, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. Massive health benefits of dates, proved by recent scientific studies, makes them one of the best ingredients you should consider incorporating into your daily diet.
Nutritional Value of Dates
Dates are a great source of dietary fiber (1/4 cup provides 12% of the daily value for fiber). Dates are also one of the best natural sources of potassium and provide 8% of your daily potassium recommendation and 6% of your daily manganese recommendation in a ¼ cup. Eating dates will enrich your body with minerals like phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Date also is a rich source of a variety of B-complex vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid as well as folic acid, vitamins A and K. It should also be noted that dates have a high sugar content and even if your sugar is coming from a fruit source, you should be careful not to overdo it. The following nutritional data outlines some of the key nutrients found in dates, and is based on a 100g serving of the fruit:
Fiber – 6.7 grams. 27% RDA.
Potassium – 696 milligrams. 20% RDA.
Copper – 0.4 milligrams. 18% RDA.
Manganese – 0.3 milligrams. 15% RDA.
Magnesium – 54 milligrams. 14% RDA.
Vitamin B6 – 0.2 milligrams. 12% RDA.
Check out the USDA Nutrient Database for a full nutritional profile of dates.
Antioxidant Quality of Dates:
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), dates are higher in total polyphenols than any of the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetable. The reson for this is due a harsh desert environment (where dates are grown), which causes polyphenols to provide protection from oxidative stress to the palm’s fruit (Fruits and Veggies More Matter).
15 Health Benefits of Dates:
The rich nutritional content of dates makes them beneficial for your health in several ways. The various health benefits of date fruits are as follows:
- Bone Health and Strength: Date is a rich source of minerals like selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, all of which are integral to healthy bone development and strength, particularly as people begin to age and their bones gradually weaken. It makes date a super food for strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating bone diseases.
- Promoting Digestive Health, Relieving Constipation – Fiber is essential for promoting colon health and making for regular bowel movements. The insoluble and soluble fiber found in dates help to clean out the gastrointestinal system, allowing the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency. Some other benefits relating to fiber and colon health are reduced risks of colitis, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids.
- Boosting Heart Health – Studies have shown, fiber and potassium reduce the risk of stroke and other heart related diseases. Therefore, dates are suggested as a healthy and delicious way to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, preventing heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke. When taken twice a week, dates can seriously improve the overall health of the heart.
- Anti-Inflammatory – Dates are rich in magnesium – a mineral known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. One study found that “inflammatory indicators in the body such as CRP (C-reactive protein), TNF (tumor necrosis factor alpha), and IL6 (interleukin 6) were all reduced when magnesium intake was increased. Based on magnesium’s anti-inflammatory properties and the findings of this study, magnesium can effectively reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-related health ailments. (Natural Society)
- Reduced Blood Pressure and Reduced Stroke Risk– Date is known to be a rich source of Magnesium which has been shown to help lower blood pressure – and again, dates are full of the mineral. Additionally, potassium is another mineral in dates that has several functions within the body, aiding with the proper workings of the heart and helping to reduce blood pressure. After evaluating 7 studies published over a 14 year time period, researchers found stroke risk was reduced by 9% for every every 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumes per day. The research can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Natural Society)
- A Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery – A study performed by researchers at the University of Science and Technology discovered how the date fruit impacted labor parameters and delivery outcomes. After studying 69 women for a year and 1 month, the researchers found that “the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome. The results warrant a randomised controlled trial.”
- Energy Booster: A serving of power-packed dates contains 31 grams of carbohydrates, making them a powerhouse of energy. Carbohydrates include 3 grams of dietary fiber and 29 grams of naturally occurring sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose to provide quick energy and are readily used by the body. Dates are a perfect energy boosting snack (Family Nutrition Online).
- Nervous System Health: The vitamins present in dates make it an ideal boost to nervous system health and functionality. Potassium is one of the prime ingredients in promoting a healthy and responsive nervous system, and it also improves the speed and alertness of brain activity. Some studies, such as one found in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that sufficient vitamin B6 levels are associated with improved brain performance and better test scores.
- Allergies: One of the most interesting facets of dates is the presence of organic sulfur in them. This is not a very common element to find in foods, but it does have a worthwhile amount of health benefits, including the reduction of allergic reactions and seasonal allergies. According to a study done in 2002, organic sulfur compounds can have a positive impact on the amount of suffering people experience from SAR (Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis) (Organic Facts)
- Treatment of Anaemia: Anaemia is characterized by unusually low quantity of red blood cells in the human body and is caused by the deficiency of iron. Dates contain an impressive level of iron which makes them the perfect home remedy for treating iron deficiency. Consumption of dates on a regular basis can greatly boost the amount of iron in the blood. The high level of iron not only balances out the inherent lack of iron in anaemic patients but also increases strength and vitality (Organic Facts)
- Prevents Abdominal Cancer: Abdominal cancer includes stomach cancer, renal cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer and bowel or colorectal cancer. Research has shown that dates work to reduce the risk and impact of abdominal cancer (Organic Facts)
- Treatment of Diarrhea: Ripe dates contain potassium, which is known as an effective way of controlling diarrhea. They are also easy to digest, which further helps alleviate the unpredictable nature of chronic diarrhea. The soluble fiber in them can also help relieve diarrhea, by providing bulk to the bowel movements and promoting normal, healthy functioning of the excretory system.
- Sexual Weakness: Studies have shown that dates are even beneficial for increasing sexual stamina. 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. This mixture becomes a very useful tonic for increasing sexual endurance and reducing sterility caused by various sexual disorders (Organic Facts)
- Treatment of Intoxication: Dates are commonly used as a remedy for alcoholic intoxication. They provide quick relief and have a sobering effect in case you feel as though have consumed an uncomfortable amount of alcohol. They can also be used the following morning to prevent severe hangovers. Again, they should be rubbed and soaked overnight for the best results (Organic Facts)
- Anti-Aging, Skin and Hair Benefits: As mentioned before, dates are loaded with vitamins A, C, B1, B2, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. These nutrients not only boost our overall health, but also make our skin beautiful and supple, strengthen your hair follicles and make your hair strands stronger and healthier.
“Ultimately, dates are good for overall health despite their fructose concentration. Even if your diet is a sugar-free one, devoid of high-fructose corn syrup, agave, honey, coconut sugar, and cane sugar, you probably still eat fruit, and dates are a fruit too, with loads of benefits.” (One Green Planet)
Date Fruit is a great and delightful combination of sweetness and tremendous health benefits. Add this magic ingredient to your daily diet to enjoy both!
Written By: Shooka Fay