Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which is grown in many tropical regions
of the world. Dates have become quite popular in the recent years. One can tell
whether or not dates are dried based on their appearance. Wrinkled skin indicates
they are dried, whereas smooth skin indicates freshness.
Dates are high in some important nutrients and have a variety of advantages and uses. This article will discuss 7 health benefits of eating dates and how to incorporate them into your diet.
Dates have an excellent nutrition profile. Since they’re dried, their calorie content is higher than most fresh fruit. The calorie content of dates is similar to that of other dried fruits, such as raisins and figs.
Most of the calories in dates come from carbs. The rest are from a very small amount of protein. Despite their calories, dates contain some important vitamins and minerals in addition to a significant amount of fibre. Dates are also high in antioxidants, which may contribute to many of their health benefits.
High in fibre
Getting enough fibre is important for our overall health. Dates in our diet is a great way to increase your fibre intake. Fibre can benefit digestive health by preventing constipation.
It promotes regular bowel movements by contributing to the formation of stool. In one study, 21 people who consumed 7 dates per day for 21 days experienced improvements in stool frequency and had a significant increase in bowel movements compared to when they did not eat dates.
Furthermore, the fibre in dates may be beneficial for blood sugar control. Fibre slows digestion and may help prevent blood sugar levels from spiking too high after eating. For this reason, dates have a low glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly blood sugar rises after eating certain food.
High in disease-fighting antioxidants
Dates provide various antioxidants that have a number of health benefits, including reduced risk of several diseases. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that may cause harmful reactions in our body and lead to disease.
Compared to similar types of fruit, such as figs and dried plums, dates appear to
have the highest antioxidant content.
Here’s an overview of the three most potent antioxidants in dates:
Flavonoids: Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and have been studied for their potential to reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer.
Carotenoids: Carotenoids are proven to promote heart health and may also reduce the risk of eye-related disorders, such as macular degeneration.
Phenolic acid: Known for their anti-inflammatory properties, phenolic acids may help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
May promote brain health
Eating dates may help improve brain function. Laboratory studies have found dates to be helpful for lowering inflammatory markers, such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), in the brain. High levels of IL-6 are associated with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, other studies including animal studies have shown dates to be helpful for reducing the activity of amyloid beta proteins, which can form plaques in the brain.
When plaques accumulate in the brain, they may disturb communication between brain cells, which can ultimately lead to brain cell death and Alzheimer’s disease.
One animal study found that mice fed food mixed with dates had significantly better memory and learning ability, as well as less anxiety-related behaviours, compared to those that did not eat them. The potential brain-boosting properties of dates have been attributed to their content of antioxidants known to reduce inflammation, including flavonoids.
However, more human studies are needed to confirm the role of dates in brain health.
Dates are a source of fructose, which is a natural type of sugar found in fruit. For this reason, dates are very sweet and also have a subtle caramel-like taste. They make a great healthy substitute for white sugar in recipes due to the nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants that they provide.
The best way to substitute dates for white sugar is to make date paste. It is made by mixing dates with water in a blender. A rule of thumb is to replace sugar with date paste at a 1:1 ratio. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you’ll replace it with 1 cup of date paste.
It is important to note that although dates are high in fibre and nutrients, they are still fairly high in calories and best consumed in moderation.
Other potential health benefits
People claim dates have a few other health benefits that have not yet been extensively studied.
Bone health: Dates contain several minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. All of these have been studied for their potential to prevent bone-related conditions like osteoporosis.
Blood sugar control: Dates have the potential to help with blood sugar regulation due to their low glycemic index, fibre, and antioxidants. Thus, eating them may support diabetes management.
Although these potential health benefits are promising, more human studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
Easy to add to your diet
Dates are incredibly versatile and make a delicious snack. They are often paired with other foods, such as almonds, nut butter, or soft cheese.
Dates are also very sticky, which makes them useful as a binder in baked goods, such as cookies and bars. You can also combine dates with nuts and seeds to make healthy snack bars or energy balls.
It is important to note that dates are high in calories and their sweet taste makes them easy to overeat. For this reason, they are best consumed in moderation.
The bottom line
Dates are a healthy fruit to include in our diet. They are high in several nutrients, fibre and antioxidants, all of which may provide health benefits ranging from improved digestion to a reduced risk of disease.
One popular way to eat them is as a natural sweetener in various dishes. They also make a great snack. It is easiest to find dates in their dried form, though these are higher in calories than fresh fruit so it is important to eat them in moderation.
Dates are definitely worth adding to our diet, as they are both nutritious and delicious.
Adapted from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dates#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10