13 Proven Health Benefits of Dates

by Kiran Patil last updated -

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Rich in various nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, dates are popular throughout the world and are consumed as a dry-fruit. A 2014 review conducted by researchers at the Qassim University, Saudi Arabia and Suez Canal University, Egypt states that dates are beneficial in treating various conditions due to their anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumor properties

What are Dates?

Dates are sweet fruits of date palm tree scientifically known as Phoenix dactylifera. They are one of the best versatile foods that can regulate the digestive process and have gained popularity in recent times. Date palm trees are cultivated all over the world especially across tropical regions. You can also use date molasses in your smoothies or desserts as a sweetener.

The American Cancer Society recommends an intake of 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day, which can be supplied through dates. It is also said that taking one date per day will help you maintain eye health all your life. They are commonly known to be quite effective in guarding against the problem of night blindness. Medjool is one of the popular variety that has many benefits.

The massive health benefits have made them one of the best ingredients for muscle development.

Watch Video: 9 Surprising Benefits Of Dates

Nutrition Facts

Dates, medjool
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]21.32
Energy [kcal]277
Protein [g]1.81
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.15
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]74.97
Fiber, total dietary [g]6.7
Sugars, total [g]66.47
Calcium, Ca [mg]64
Iron, Fe [mg]0.9
Magnesium, Mg [mg]54
Phosphorus, P [mg]62
Potassium, K [mg]696
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.44
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.06
Niacin [mg]1.61
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.25
Folate, DFE [µg]15
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]7
Vitamin A, IU [IU]149
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]2.7
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Sources include : USDA

Dates Nutrition

According to USDA, dates are a good source of energy, fiber, sugar, and various vitamins and minerals. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc can be found in dates. Apart from the above-mentioned nutrients, they also contain vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin K.

A 2008 review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition journal by Cornell researchers Chang Yong Lee and Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi suggests that over 15% of daily requirement of essential minerals such as copper, potassium, magnesium and selenium can be fulfilled by consuming 100g of dates daily

Health Benefits

Let us look at some of the key benefits of dates in detail below.

Good Source of Energy

Dates are high in natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. The high energy present in dates can be attributed to this high sugar content. Many people around the world eat natural fat-free dates for a quick afternoon snack when they are feeling lethargic or sluggish.

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, dates rich in essential nutrients may help you regain your energy immediately.

People who follow Islam and observe fastings, break their fast by eating dates along with water. This also helps avoid overeating of food once the fast is over. When the body begins to absorb the high nutritional content of the dates, feelings of hunger are pacified.

Dates boost brain health

Dates May Boost Brain Health

A  study  led by Musthafa Mohamed Essa, Ph.D. et al. suggests that dates 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 help in the relieving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dates Rich in Fiber May Help Relieve Constipation

In traditional Tunisian medicine, dates are used for treating constipation. According to research on the effects of fiber on dietary constipation, the foods that are rich in fiber are essential in promoting healthy bowel movements and comfortable passage of food through the intestinal tract. A 2005 study also suggests that dates have high levels of dietary fiber and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber aids in digestion by bulking up the stool and may also aid in relieving the symptoms of constipation.

How to use: Soak some dates in water overnight, then consume in the morning when they turn into a pure date syrup to get the most optimal results.

Relief from Intestinal Disorders

Research suggests dates contain insoluble and soluble fibers, as well as many beneficial amino acids which can stimulate the digestion of food and ensure quick passage through the intestine and stomach. This may promote better absorption of nutrients by the digestive tract.

Give Relief from Anemia

Dates are a good source of many nutrients such as iron. Deficiency of iron causes anemia and intake of iron-rich foods help provide relief from it. However, there is a lack of research supporting the direct role of dates in treating anemia.

Prevent Heart Diseases

A study by Rock W et al. concluded that dates have beneficial effects on saturated fatty acids and oxidative stress that are often linked to heart issues and has the potential to prevent atherogenesis that leads to cardiovascular diseases.

Dates along with pomegranate, rich in antioxidants may help in reducing risk of stroke. They are rich in various phytochemicals which also help prevent heart diseases.

Furthermore, dates are a rich source of potassium, which studies have shown to reduce the risk of stroke and other heart-related diseases.

Treat Sexual Weakness

In 2006, a study revealed the effects of date palms and their oil on sexual functioning and found that the high levels of estradiol and flavonoid components of dates are help increase sperm count and motility. Another study  conducted in India states that date palm pollen have been used to treat male infertility in traditional medicine.

So, if you are looking for a masculine boost, you may eat organic dates, because they are a great natural aphrodisiac!

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 medical practitioner before trying is strongly recommended.

Prevent Night Blindness

Vitamin A deficiency is often linked to incidence of night blindness. According to an article by H.A. Hajar Al Binali, M.D. vitamin A rich dates may help prevent night blindness.

Reduce Alcoholic Intoxication

According to a study by Mahmoudi et al. published in Journal of Organic Systems, dates have been used along with pepper to reduce toxication of beer in Nigeria.

Help Treat Chronic Diarrhea

According to an article published in Columbia University Medical Center, foods rich in potassium such as dates are effective against diarrhea. They also aid in digestion and may alleviate the unpredictable nature of chronic diarrhea.

Health Benefits of Dates

Lower Risk of Colon Cancer

Research conducted by  Prof. Dr. Jeremy PE Spencer et al suggests that intake of dates may help in improving bowel health along with slowing down the development of colorectal cancer. Studies also indicate that dates exhibit anti-tumor activity however the exact mechanism remains unknown and requires more research.

Bone Health

A publication by Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D. et al. (North Dakota University) suggests dates contain boron that is also amongst the nutrients that promotes healthy bones. A study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition journal suggests that significant amounts of minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium found in dry fruits make them a superfood for strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating diseases like osteoporosis.

Organic pitted dates contain selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, all of which may aid in managing bone health particularly amongst the elderly ones.

Dates May Promote Healthy Weight Gain

According to USDA dates are rich in sugar along with proteins, and many other essential vitamins are a good addition to your diet. If they are consumed with cucumber paste, you can keep your weight at a normal, balanced level. Medjool dates are easily available in grocery markets and make for a healthy snack!

An animal study conducted in 2014 suggested that intake of dates may aid in weight gain. Another animal study done in 2016 indicated no such increase in weight. In view of the conflicting reports, more research is needed to support this benefit.

Aid in Relieving Symptoms of SAR

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), which affects approximately 30 million people in the United States alone. They are a great way to stem the effects of those seasonal allergies through their contributions of sulfur to the diet.

One of the most interesting facets of dates is the presence of organic sulfur in their seeds. However there are no studies that suggest use of dates being beneficial in reducing allergic reactions and seasonal allergies.

Where to Buy Dates?

Dates are easily available in supermarkets, grocery stores, and online. Make sure you select the type that provides all the benefits you are looking for:

  • Organic Medjool dates
  • Noor dates
  • Ajwa dates

How to Eat?

They can be quickly and easily digested for a quick boost of energy. Apart from eating directly people consume them in several ways that include:

  • Mixing the paste of the dates with milk and yogurt
  • Use the dates paste as a bread spread for a delicious and healthy breakfast
  • You can even add date crumbles to your cereal and porridge.
  • You can even use date sugar, which is basically the dried variety ground into tiny pieces.

Natural date paste is beneficial for both adults and children, especially during a time of recovery from injury or illness.

Although these dried fruits carry tremendous nutritional values, great care should be taken in their selection because their surface is very sticky, which attracts various impurities. Therefore, you should only consume the ones that are processed and packaged properly. Also, make sure to wash them thoroughly before eating, as this will help remove the impurities present on the surface.

About the Author

Kiran Patil is the founder of Organic Facts. He has a keen interest in health, nutrition, and organic living. He completed his B.Tech and M. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Bombay and has been actively writing about health and nutrition since over past 12 years. When not working he likes to trek and do gardening.

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