9 Incredible Health Benefits of Medjool Dates
Some of the most impressive benefits of medjool dates include their ability to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, aid bone strength, protect cognition, boost metabolism, ensure proper hormone production, optimize digestion and help with normal growth and development. There are a few side effects of eating medjool dates, such as potential weight gain or complications with diabetes, but generally, these fruits are considered to be very good for overall health.
What Are Medjool Dates?
Medjool dates are the fruit of the Medjool cultivar of the date palm, scientifically known as Phoenix dactylifera. This tree has been cultivated for thousands of years for its sweet fruit, the date, which contains a single stone, and ranges in color from red to yellow when ripe, depending on the cultivar. Medjool dates, in particular, are often called the king of dates, due to their nearly global availability, and are also in the “soft” variety of dates, opposed to semi-dry and dry varieties. Dates are usually elongated in shape, up to 7 cm long and 3 cm wide, and often have a wrinkled or dehydrated appearance. Most varieties of dates that can be purchased in stores are dried, but fresh dates are available in some import stores and in markets in those regions where dates grow.
Although these trees are likely native to the region of Iraq and ancient Persia, they are now widely grown around the world, from Spain and North Africa to Mexico and the United States, but the majority of dates are still produced in the Middle East and exported. They are not only nutritionally dense fruits, but also have a long shelf life in their dried form. Some of the nutrients that provide the many health benefits of Medjool dates include dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, B family vitamins, vitamin A, magnesium and calcium.
Medjool Dates vs. Regular Dates
The biggest difference between Medjool dates and “regular” dates is that they come from different cultivars of the same plant. Medjool dates are also picked early in their ripening season, when they are quite soft, which is why they are included in the “soft” category of dates, along with other cultivars, such as Barhee and Halawy. The other most common form of date, here referred to as “regular”, is Deglet Noor dates, which are in the semi-dry category of dates.
In terms of nutrition, Medjool dates are almost identical to Deglet Noor dates, although the latter does tend to have more dietary fiber and less beta-carotene, as well as more lutein, fat and protein. The largest difference is their consistency; Medjool dates are squishy and easier to eat, while Deglet Noors often have to be soaked in water before they are edible.
9 Incredible Health Benefits of Medjool Dates
People who regularly consume medjool dates will often find relief from poor digestion, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, hormone issues, low metabolism, constipation, wound healing, growth and development, vision health and poor nutrient uptake.
Digestion: One of the best things about Medjool dates is their high dietary fiber content. A single serving of dates contains more than 6 grams of dietary fiber, roughly 20-25% of your daily required intake, depending on gender. Dietary fiber is also crucial for proper functioning of your digestive tract. Fiber can help to eliminate constipation by stimulating peristaltic motion and regulating bowel movements. This can also help relieve hemorrhoids, bloating, cramping and general stomach upset.
Blood Pressure: The notable potassium levels in Medjool dates mean that they can have a positive effect on blood pressure. Potassium is a vasodilator, so it is able to relieve tension in blood vessels and arteries, which can ease strain on the cardiovascular system and reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
Metabolism: The B vitamins present in Medjool dates, such as niacin, pantothenic acid and folic acid, are very important for regulating the metabolism and the more than 300 different metabolic processes that go on within our body every single day. Copper is also found in high levels within these dates, which can increase iron absorption and contributes to energy generation within the body.
Nutrient Uptake: By improving digestion, Medjool dates can ensure that the digestive process is efficient and removes as many nutrients as possible from the food that we eat. The significant levels of copper and calcium can also improve the bioavailability of iron and potassium, which further improves our health.
Vision Health: Medjool dates do contain some beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that is particularly effective in treating vision health. Vitamin A has been associated with lower levels of macular degeneration, slowed development of cataracts, and less oxidative stress in the retina.
Cholesterol: High levels of dietary fiber are always good news for people with high cholesterol. While dates are high in calories, and therefore not the best recommendation for someone who is obese, ensuring that you get enough dietary fiber can help to rebalance your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Hormones: Although manganese is often overlooked in the essential minerals of the body, it has a number of key effects on hormone production and regulation. Specifically for the production of sex hormones, manganese is essential, but it happens to be present in Medjool dates!
Growth and Development: The protein level in medjool dates is not impressively high, but in combination with calcium, potassium and magnesium, this exotic fruit is known to boost growth and ensure proper development, particularly in children, or when recovering from an injury or extended illness.
Bone Strength: Medjool dates contain notable levels of magnesium, manganese, copper and calcium, all of which are required to improve bone mineral density in the body. Even if blood tests show that you are not deficient in minerals, this could be because your body is leeching minerals from your bones, so adding essential minerals in every snack is an important health decision.
Medjool Dates Calories
In terms of calories, Medjool dates are quite dense, because there is so little water in these fruits. A date, on average, weighs about 1 ounce, and contains roughly 66 calories. The average serving size is about 4 dates, roughly 100 grams, totally an average of 282 calories. While this is quite high, and represents nearly 1/8 of most people’s calorie intake for the day, that same serving also provide more than 6 grams of fiber and a wealth of other nutrients. If you are trying to lose weight, Medjool dates may not be the best idea, but when eaten in moderation, the health benefits certainly outweigh the risks!