Dates have become the wrinkled, pruney darlings of the dried fruit world — and for good reason. This little fruit that packs a major nutritional punch.
Loaded with nutrients and minerals essential for a healthy diet, dates have been found to aid in weight loss, relieve constipation, promote heart health, reduce anemia, stabilize blood pressure and promote digestive health, among a growing laundry list of findings and health benefits. The natural sweetness in dates and wonderful, chewy texture also make this fruit the perfect ingredient for a number of recipes, and healthier way to get a sugar fix without relying on empty calories.
There are more than 30 varieties of dates around the world, which range in shape and size. They all come from the date palm tree and have been harvested and used in cooking for centuries. The most common (and arguably tastiest) in the U.S. are Medjool dates. Here’s why you might want to get more dates in your diet.
Dates Have All These Nutrients — And More
Dates are more than simply a sweet treat. For starters, dates are a good source of vitamins and minerals, and provide a significant amount of dietary fiber. Among their most important nutrients, dates contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
To get specific with nutrition facts, each 100g serving of dates has these key nutrients:
- Fiber – 6.7 grams, or 27% RDA.
- Potassium – 696 milligrams, or 20% RDA.
- Copper – 0.4 milligrams, or 18% RDA.
- Manganese – 0.3 milligrams, or 15% RDA.
- Magnesium – 54 milligrams, or 14% RDA.
All these nutrients are essential for the healthy functioning of all your body. And they’re nutrients that many people following the standard American diet don’t get enough of.
Potassium is critical for every heartbeat in your body. It helps your muscles move, your nerves work and your kidneys to filter blood. Copper helps the body form collagen and absorb iron and plays a key role in energy production. Manganese contributes to joint health and combat free radicals in your body. And Magnesium activates over 300 enzyme reactions in the body that happen on a daily basis.
All these nutrients in dates work together to do some pretty amazing things. Below we’ll outline just a few.
5 Proven Things Dates Can Do For You
1) Aid Digestion
From relieving constipation to plugging up a leaky bum, dates boast a number of digestive benefits because of the high fiber content. Fiber is essential for getting things moving through your digestive system and promoting a healthy colon and bowel movements because it draws water into the digestive tract.
By helping clean out the gastrointestinal system, dates can also reduce the risk of related diseases, like colon cancer or hemorrhoids.
Dates are also one of those foods that promote good bacteria in the stomach, which is optimal for gut health.
2) Make Bones Stronger, Help Joints
Dates are an excellent source of calcium, which is the most obvious nutrient needed for good bone health. However, dates are also especially rich in vitamin B6, vitamin A, and vitamin K, which all contribute to strong bone development.
Because dates are rich in magnesium, they provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which can help relieve things like joint pain in between the bones.
3) Heal Your Heart and Mind
Magnesium also is a powerful nutrient found to reduce the risk of heart disease. One study found that the risk of stroke was reduced by nearly 10 percent for every 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumed per day.
Additionally, dates boast high levels of antioxidants, which help prevent atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries, and stimulate cholesterol removal from artery cells. This study found that eating dates every day lowers cholesterol levels and oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body.
As for the mind, research found that a diet rich dates, pomegranates and figs could actually reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease, which is caused by progressive degeneration of the brain.
4) Boost Energy
The natural sugars in dates, including sucrose, fructose and glucose, create a sustainable energy boost that doesn’t leave you crashing. That's because dates offer sustained energy help regulate blood sugar, making dates an ideal snack in between meals — no need to rely on energy bars.
5) Help With a Healthy Delivery
Eating dates can even be amazing for the health of a mother and her baby. One recent study found that mothers who ate dates in the last four weeks before labor significantly reduced the need for an induction and produced a “more favorable” delivery. Now that’s a sweet benefit of eating dates.
How to Get More Dates in Your Diet
It’s not too hard to incorporate this sweet fruit into your diet. They’re perfect on their own as a snack for a boost of energy, and they also work well in a number of recipes. Mediterranean cuisine incorporates dates in a number of savory dishes because they add a hint of sweetness and texture. Dates are also perfect to sweeten smoothies naturally or make energy bars that keep their shape.Date syrup, which is made by extracting the juice of dates, is also one of the best alternatives to refined sugar. It can replace sugar or honey in nearly any recipe and still provides all the added benefits of dates.