I know, you like eating dates as they are sweet, lovely and delicious. But what if I told you that along with it they also have several healing powers that are proven scientifically?
Dates were discovered thousands of years ago. According to history, Egyptians used it to make wine in ancient times. From those times, this fascinating fruit has been traded to different parts of the world - southwest Asia, Spain, northern Africa, and were later also taken to Mexico and California. Today, they are grown in many tropical parts of the world and are mainly sold in dried form.
Considering the glucose, sucrose, and fructose content in this fruit, we can differentiate three types of dates: soft, semi-dry, and dry. Cuisines across the world use dates for different recipes. Along with their taste, one thing that makes them stand out is how it benefits your health and diet. Dates are rich in vitamins and minerals, fibre, iron, calcium, zink, to name just a few.
In this blog, I will discuss the most widely known health benefits of dates to give you some reasons for the regular use of this fantastic fruit.
Dates are very Nutritious
Dates are rich in calories, and since they are dried, they have more calorie content than fresh food. However, their calorie content is similar to that of dried figs, raisins and other dried fruit. Most of the calories dates contain come from carbohydrates. They also contain fibre and some proteins. There are 75 grams carbs, 7 grams fibre and only 2 grams protein in 100-gram serving dates.
They are also rich in vitamins, contain some antioxidants, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, etc. The antioxidants, vitamins and other essential components that dates include may contribute to several health benefits. Thus, we can say that this fascinating dried fruit isn't just a sugar bomb or empty calories, but has several healing properties.
Dates are high in Vitamins
If you eat some dates every day, you won't even need to take vitamin supplements. They contain such essential vitamins as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, D, K and other vitamins. Dates will not only help you stay healthy and fit, but they can provide a considerable amount of energy. They contain such natural sugars as glucose, sucrose and fructose, so dates can also work great as a quick morning snack.
One more plus, vitamin C and D also help you to keep skin elasticity and smoothness. Thus, dates can also help you if you have skin problems keeping your body young with the help of its anti-ageing benefits.
Dates are also rich in Fiber
I have already mentioned that including some dates into your diet can also increase your fiber intake, which is vital for your health. It essentially benefits your digestion and prevents constipation. If you have ever experienced constipation, you know how bad it can affect your energy level. To escape such trouble, just soak a few dates in water and eat them daily. It provides 18% of the daily goal of fiber, which contributes to stool formation, thus promoting regular bowel movement.
There are even scientific experiments that come to prove this benefit of dates. In one study, 21 participants consumed 7 dates per day for 21 days. Later it was cleared out that the participants experienced improvements in stool frequency and had a significant increase in bowel movements.
In addition to their digestive benefits, dates also may help prevent blood sugar levels from spiking too high after eating.
Dates have a variety of Antioxidants
Compared to other fruits such as dried plums or figs, dates contain the highest amount of health-protective antioxidants. Why is this important, and how it can benefit your health?
The problem is that the unstable molecules, called radicals, can have a harmful impact on your body and cause several diseases. Among such diseases are oxidative stress-related illnesses. They occur because of the imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body's ability to counter their harmful effects. Antioxidants protect your cells from such free radicals, thus protecting your health.
Dates contain such antioxidants as flavonoids, which reduce inflammation; carotenoids promote heart health and risk of eye-related diseases; phenolic acid, which is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties, etc.
Dates contain Iron
Dates are also recommended for those who suffer from iron deficiency. The deficiency in this metal can lead to such health problems as fatigue, shortness of breath, or even chain pain. So, to avoid similar issues and to supplement the amount of your iron, just include some dates into your diet.
Dates may promote Brain Health
According to the laboratory studies, dates have the ability to lower the amount of interleukin 6 (IL-6). It's an inflammatory marker, the high levels of which are associated with a higher risk of such neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
Some other studies conducted with animals have shown that dates can also reduce the activity of amyloid-beta proteins. These proteins are famous for creating plaques in the brain, which can disturb communication between cells and again lead to Alzheimer's disease.
The brain-protecting abilities of dates are also connected to the number of antioxidants they contain, including flavonoids famous for their anti-inflammatory properties. However, more research is needed to confirm their brain-boosting properties. The problem is that all the experiments and studies were conducted on animals. So, we also need human studies to be convinced of it.
Dates may help ease Natural Labor
Another benefit for which dates are famous applies specifically to pregnant women. They have the potential to promote late-term labor, reduce labor time and even encourage cervical dilation.
Researchers conducted an experiment with 69 pregnant women prior to their due date. The participants ate 6 dates per day for 4 weeks. The study showed that 20% of the women were more likely to go into labor naturally and had significantly less labor time than those who didn't use dates. One of the reasons how dates are so beneficial for pregnant women can be the compounds that appear to mimic the body's oxytocin. The latter is a hormone that causes labor contractions during childbirth.
Though there are many other experiments proving that dates can promote natural labor, more research is needed to eventually confirm such benefits.
Other health benefits dates may possess
Dates may have some other potential benefits; however, they are not studied sufficiently to be proven completely.
Among those benefits can be the promotion of bone health. Dates contain several minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, copper, potassium, etc. These minerals are vital for keeping our bones healthy and preventing such bone-related diseases as osteoporosis.
They have a low glycemic index and contain a vast amount of antioxidants and fiber. This indicates that dates have the potential to control blood sugar regulation, thus contributing to diabetes management.
Dates are Natural Sweetener and have no added Sugar
Everyone who ever tried dates can confirm how sweet they are with a subtle caramel-like taste. Dates contain natural sources of sugar, including fructose and glucose. People may think that they are dried fruit and, like other dried fruit, contain added sugar. However, dates are fresh, and since they are not processed, they keep their natural sugar.
One of the best things about this fruit is that we can even substitute it for white sugar. For that purpose, we should make a date past mixing fruits with water in the blender. Then this paste can be used in the recipes instead of sugar.
However, it should also be mentioned that though dates have so many health benefits, they are high in calories. So, we should consume this sweet and lovely fruit in moderation.
How to incorporate Dates into your Diet
Dates are so versatile that they can be used for various cooking purposes and recipes. First of all, it should be mentioned that dates are best when eaten alone. They work great as a morning snack that can give you a considerable amount of energy.
But it's also possible to combine them with other food, like cheese cream, nut butter, almonds, etc. Along with being very sweet, dates are also quite sticky, so you can also use them in baked recipes as a binder. They can act as an excellent sugar substitute due to their natural sweetness. Dates can be used for baking cookies or making bars. You can also combine them with oatmeal, nuts, and seeds to make sweet and fantastic energy balls.
It's also possible to make a date paste and use it in several recipes or make an ice-cream with it. Or you can even use them to give some sweetness to garden salads and cooked vegetables such as roasted cauliflower, kale leaves, etc.
Whatever you use them for, just remember that as long as they are very sweet, it's hard to resist the temptation and not overeat them. So, consume them in moderation, so that they don't cause any inconveniences.
Keep your daily dose of dates in the refrigerator and consume daily to get from them all the mentioned benefits. Trust me, some dates a day keep the doctor away!