Date palm fruits or dates (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is part of the palm family Arecaceae or Palm trees. They are among the most historically significant and popular fruits originating in the Middle East and North Africa and notable appearances in the Holy Qur’an.
Dates are considered healthy because they are loaded with nutrients, including fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor plant compounds. In addition, they are low on the glycemic index and can promote natural work and support bone and brain health.
This article describes the benefits of eating fresh or dried dates, the nutritional value of a single serving of dates, and the side effects of eating too many dates. You will also learn how many dates you can eat in a day.
Dates: Benefits of eating them fresh or dried
The following are relevant health benefits of eating dates whether fresh or dry.
Packed with nutrients
Dates are known to have a high natural sugar content. However, dates contain more than 70% sugar. This means that the majority of the calories from dates come from sugar (glucose and fructose). Dates contain more calories per portion than many other fruits. This makes them great for road trips, hikes and day trips. The sugar in dates is easily converted into energy, and the calories come with essential vitamins and minerals.
Dates are considered a significant source of fiber, with nearly 7 grams of fiber per serving. 3.5-ounce or 100-gram serving. In general, getting enough fiber in your diet can help reduce belly fat and prevent chronic diseases. The health benefits of dietary fiber are well researched. The benefits include reducing the risk of developing hypertension, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, certain gastrointestinal diseases, heart disease and stroke.
Dates contain a wide range of antioxidant-rich plant compounds called phenolic compounds, including flavonoids. Phenolic compounds in dates include in addition to flavonoids p-coumaric, ferulicand sinapic acids and procyanidins. Antioxidants from food sources like dates are said to prevent or delay cell damage (ie, antioxidants protect cells from damage and promote strong cellular health).
The plant compounds that contribute to the antioxidant benefits of dates are also known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Phenolic compounds and flavonoids in dates, according to a review of in vitro and animal studies, are said to provide excellent anti-inflammatory support and may also play a significant role in reducing inflammation associated with conditions such as cancer, diabetes and other conditions.
Additionally, the same review suggests that dates may have ethyl acetate and methanol, which is essential for reducing swelling symptoms.
Although the reasons are still unclear, date nutrients have shown antitumor activity in various studies. Researchers suggest that the effect may come from phenols and flavonoids, which play a significant role in the prevention of cancer due to how they regulate genetic pathways associated with cancer. They also note that several animal studies have reported the specific anti-tumor effects of the antioxidant nutrient found in dates known as beta D-glucan.
Heart and vascular health
Animal studies have shown various cardiovascular health benefits of dates. The results have shown that the benefits include contributing to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels and protecting heart tissue from oxidative and inflammatory damage. In these studies, concentrated date nutrient extracts are used on rats to determine the effect of these plant compounds on heart health.
Low on glycemic index
While high in natural sugars, dates are actually low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a classification system for foods based on how their carbohydrate content affects blood sugar levels. It is an important tool for people working to manage their blood sugar levels. Dates are also high in potassium and low in sodium, adding to their health benefits for people with hypertension or type 2 diabetes.
Can people with diabetes eat dates?
Dates ranking low on the glycemic index means that dates can be included in a healthy diet even for people with type 2 diabetes.
May promote natural labor
In pregnant women, eating dates in the later weeks of pregnancy may be beneficial in promoting natural rather than induced labor. Older studies have reported that people who eat dates in the four weeks before their due date were less likely to require induced labor (ie, they were more dilated on arrival at the hospital and they had a shorter delivery time).
A 2017 study of over 150 pregnant women also suggests that people who eat dates in the weeks leading up to labor are less likely to need induction. However, larger clinical trial studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Experts suggest that the role of dates in inducing labor comes down to the role of oxytocin, which is found in dates. Oxytocin is known as a bonding hormone, but is also responsible for causing labor in labor.
Supports bone health
Dates provide a good source of calcium and magnesium. These are two essential nutrients for healthy bone development. For example, getting adequate levels of calcium is associated with proper bone formation and lowering the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Supports brain health
Dates are said to have neuroprotective benefits. Animal studies have shown the potential effect of eating dates and reducing the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Experts link the brain health benefits of dates to phenolic plant compounds and antioxidants such as anthocyanins, ferulic acid, protocatechuic acid and caffeic acid.
It is difficult to draw direct comparisons from animal experiments. More research and research involving human participants is needed to confirm date benefits on human memory and overall brain health.
The nutritional value of a single serving of dates
A 3.5 ounce (100 gram) single serving of dates (Medjool variety) contains:
- Calories: 277
- Carbohydrates: 75 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Potassium: 15% of the total Recommended Daily Value (DV)
- Magnesium: 13% DV
- Copper: 40% DV
- Manganese: 13% DV
- Iron: 5% DV
- Vitamin B6: 15% DV
How many dates can you eat a day?
Dates are often served to break a period of intermittent fasting or as a nutritious snack. You may be wondering how many dates you can eat a day for health and prevention the side effects of too many dates. Many sources say you can eat about six dates. Remember, you can eat one serving of dates daily, about 3.5 ounces of dried fruit, or 100 grams.
Moderation and Date consumption
The reason moderation is required is that dates are considered calorie dense and high in fiber and sugar, which means they may not fit into every diet or eating plan.
Side effects of too many dates
Eating too many dates can have side effects due to their high fiber content.
Eating too much fiber in one sitting or regularly can cause digestive symptoms, including:
- Bloating and gas
- Feeling uncomfortably full
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Stomach ache and cramps and pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight changes over time (loss or gain)
If you experience digestive upset from consuming too many dates or too much fiber, consider giving your digestive system a break from too much fiber.
Dates are a popular fruit with a low glycemic index from the palm family. They provide essential nutrients. Dates have a high content of natural sugar and are rich in fibre. They have antioxidants and other plant compounds that help promote healthy cell function and reduce the risk of diseases and health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Dates have been associated with promoting natural labor without the need for induction. Dates are beneficial for fighting inflammation, but can cause bloating if you consume too many. In addition, too much fiber from dates can cause stomach upset.
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