The fruit of dates is known as a drupe. It is a fleshy part of the fruit which covers a shell, a pit or a stone that has a seed inside it. The fruit is oval or shaped like a cylinder and grows to be a very long and thin fruit which is prized by the Middle Easter and dessert states.
Dates are a fruit that many people are more familiar with in the east than the west, but since it is a fruit that is highly nutritious the health benefits of dates is now gaining recognition in the west.
Dates contain numerous health benefits which is why they are often described as a “super fruit“. It is, in fact, a dry fruit that is sweet in taste and is rich in minerals and vitamins. The cultivation of dates can be traced back many years in history.
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 them. Apart from the above-mentioned nutrients, they also contain important 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 the daily requirement of essential minerals such as copper, potassium, magnesium, and selenium can be fulfilled by consuming 100 grams, or about 4 pitted dates per day.
Here are the proven & surprising health benefits of dates “Super Fruit”!
Healthy Source of Antioxidants
All dates, fresh or dried, contain different types of antioxidants. Fresh dates contain anthocyanidins and carotenoids, while dried dates contain polyphenols – just like green tea. Experiments in food chemistry show that Khalas (aka Madina) dates are highest in antioxidants when compared to other date varieties.
Help to Reduce arthritis and Joint Pain
Dates help to balance vata, which is the root cause of joint pain and inflammation. These fruits are also rich in potassium. Hence people suffering from joint pain and arthritis get benefited by the consumption of these fruits.
Good for Blood Sugar Balance
Diabetes researchers have shown that dates have a low glycemic impact. This means that eating dates alone, or with a meal, may help people with type-2 diabetes manage their blood sugar and blood fat levels. Six to eight Tamer dates can be eaten in one sitting without dramatic shifts in blood sugar.
Improves Eye Health
Dates provide the highest amount of Vitamin A. As Vitamin A is antioxidants, it becomes highly preferred food to be consumed to improve eye health. Due to high antioxidants dates protect eyes from free radicals. It is also effective to prevent retinal damage caused due to free radicals. Thus it improves eye vision and protect from cataract or macular degeneration.
Help Reduce Blood Pressure
A standard serving of five or six dates provides about 80 milligrams of magnesium, an essential mineral that helps dilate blood vessels. Research shows that supplementing with 370 milligrams of magnesium can reduce blood pressure. However, taking such a large dose all at once often causes diarrhea. Dates are a delicious way to increase your magnesium intake more gently.
Good Cure for Constipation
Dates are a good natural cure for constipation. Not only do they contain plenty of fibre, to get things moving again, but they have also been found to actively stimulate intestinal movement. [Reference 3]
In traditional Tunisian medicine, dates are used for treating constipation. According to research on the effects of dietary fiber, the foods that are rich in fiber are essential for promoting healthy bowel movements and ensuring the comfortable passage of food through the intestinal tract.
How to use: Start by soaking dates in water overnight to help them soften up. Next, add soaked dates and a bit of soaking liquid to a food processor and blend to make a thick, fiber-rich date paste.
Help Maintain Bone Mass
Research shows that bone loss in post-menopausal women with osteopenia can be reduced by increasing intake of potassium. One dried date provides nearly 140 milligrams of this valuable nutrient. Scientists believe that high potassium intake protects bone mass by reducing the amount of calcium excreted through the kidneys.
A publication by Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D. et al. and colleagues of North Dakota State University suggests that dates contain boron which is amongst the nutrients that promotes healthy bones. A study published in the Journal of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition suggests that significant amounts of minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium found in dried 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 older adults.
They are Good for the Cardiovascular System
Dates can reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and they have also been shown to reduce the build-up of plaque in the arteries and so promote a healthier cardiovascular system.
Improving Healthy Weight
If someone is suffering from excess weight loss then dates could be the best food that can increase weight in healthy ways. It is packed with high calorie, vitamin, mineral and protein which promote healthy weight gain.
According to USDA, these dried fruits are rich in sugar along with proteins, and many other essential vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber, which can aid in weight management. Medjool dates are easily available in grocery markets and make for a healthy and delicious snack!
An animal study conducted in 2014 suggested that intake of dates may aid in weight gain. However, 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.
A Brain Booster
Each little date contains over two milligrams of choline, a B vitamin that’s a component in acetylcholine, the memory neurotransmitter. Higher choline intake is associated with better memory and learning, making it a key nutrient for children and older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s.
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 could potentially help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Cures Abdominal Cancer
The best thing is that it does not have any side effect on the body and is completely natural as well as it works better than medicine. It also helps in improving eye sight and helps in curing night blindness as well.
Research conducted by Prof. Dr. Jeremy PE Spencer et al suggests that eating dates may help improving bowel health and slow down the development and spread of colorectal cancer cells. Studies also indicate that these dried fruits exhibit anti-tumor activity, although the exact mechanism remains unknown and requires more research.
Reduce the Risk of Stroke
Researchers, from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, who combined the results of several different studies, published over a fourteen year period, found that the results suggested that the magnesium contained in dates could reduce the risk of stroke by nearly 10%. [Reference 4, Reference 5]
Dates are a rich source of potassium, which studies have shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke as well as other heart-related diseases.
A study by Waseem Rock et al. concluded that consuming dates was effective at reducing triglyceride levels and decreasing oxidative stress, both of which are risk factors for heart disease and atherogenesis, which is the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries.
These dried fruits are rich in antioxidants, which may help prevent atherogenesis and aid in reducing risk of stroke. They are also high in various phytochemicals which may also help protect against heart disease.
Improved Muscle Function
Eating dates are a good way to support healthy heart and muscle function. The heart and muscles need proper amounts of electrolytes to support normal electrical activity in the muscles. Dates are high in the potassium and magnesium electrolytes. Without proper amounts of electrolytes you can experience muscle fatigue which can lead to a feeling of tiredness even though cell energy levels might be high.
Good Source of Energy
Dates are high in natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. The high energy present in them can be attributed to this high sugar content. Many people around the world eat natural low-fat dates for a quick afternoon snack when they are feeling lethargic or sluggish to help bump up energy levels fast. [Reference 1, Reference 2]
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, suggests that dates rich in essential nutrients may help you regain your energy immediately.
People who follow Islam and observe fastings, break their fast by eating them along with water. This also helps avoid overeating of food once the fast is over. When the body begins to absorb their high nutritional content, feelings of hunger are pacified.
Treat Sexual Dysfunction
In 2006, an animal study revealed the effects of date palm pollen and its oil on sexual functioning, reporting that the high levels of estradiol and flavonoid components in dates are helping 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.
Therefore, if you are looking for an easy way to boost libido and sexual function, you may consider consuming organic dates, thanks to their aphrodisiac like properties.
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 with a trusted medical practitioner before trying is strongly recommended to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Prevent Night Blindness
Vitamin A deficiency is often linked to night blindness, along with other symptoms like dry eyes and an increased risk of infection. According to an article by H.A. Hajar Al Binali, M.D., dates are rich in carotenoids, which may help prevent night blindness and preserve healthy vision.
Help Treat Chronic Diarrhea
According to an article published by Columbia University Medical Center, foods rich in potassium such as dates can help replace and replete electrolytes that you may have lost due to chronic diarrhea. Thanks to their high fiber content, they can also aid in digestion and may alleviate the unpredictable nature of chronic diarrhea.
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, including:
- Organic Medjool dates
- Noor dates
- Ajwa dates
Word of Warning
Finally, keep in mind that dried dates are relatively high in sugar and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and other health issues if consumed in excess. Therefore, it’s best to keep intake in moderation and enjoy as part of a healthy, balanced diet to maximize the potential health benefits.
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