For thousands of years, date trees have been growing taller than 70 feet in height and giving off sweet fruit. Dates got their start in the middle east (specifically in Iran), and have since spread around the world. The actual date fruit that comes off of these trees can vary due to the content, which impacts how sweet it can be. The ones that seem to make it to grocery stores are among the sweetest, though, which is just fine for most of us.
Growing actual date trees can only happen around the middle eastern region of the world, but the fruits are enjoyed by all. Most people just eat dates as they are, but they can also be made as part of a juice. No matter how you’re enjoying dates, they can make for a great part of your diet. Let’s take a look at the nutritional breakdown and the proven health benefits that you get from eating dates in your diet.
Nutrition of Dates
Now you might not be eating 100 grams worth of dates, but that’s the serving size that we’re going to be looking at here. There are around 275 calories in that serving, with a couple of grams of protein. A big factor here is that there is almost no fat in dates, but more than a quarter of your daily recommendation for fiber. There might be a considerable amount of carbohydrates, but the fiber content should make you feel much better about that.
In terms of vitamins, vitamin B6 is the most abundant at 12 percent of your recommended value. Vitamin A, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin and folate are at around five percent while pantothenic acid and niacin are around 10 percent. Turning to minerals, you get around 20 percent of your daily value each day in magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. Right around five percent, you’ll find calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. Lastly, there’s no cholesterol found in dates.
Dates are incredibly good for your digestive system, thanks mainly to the high amount of dietary fiber that you find in each serving. With nearly 25 percent of your daily recommended intake, dates can relieve a lot of problems in the digestive system that include constipation and diarrhea. Many people aren’t getting enough fiber, which can lead to intestinal discomfort and irregularity.
Fiber creates more probiotics in your gut that help to keep away harmful bacteria that causes these problems. As for the regular bowel movements, the fiber in dates helps to soften stool that can be too hard to pass while hardening liquid waste. Having a high amount of fiber in your diet can also prevent certain types of cancer, especially in the colon. Another bonus is that an improved digestive system from fiber can also boost your metabolism.
Dates have a high concentration in magnesium, which is one of the most important minerals that you can get for your bones. Magnesium allows your body to absorb more calcium, which is the building block of bone health. Not only will that make your bones stronger, but it also gives your teeth an extra boost. Dentists suggest that you take supplements that have both magnesium and calcium, or have a healthy diet with these minerals and dates are part of that.
For those that worry about losing bone density and strength because it can lead to osteoporosis, eating dates is a good way to avoid that problem. Most of the minerals in dates are linked to a lowered risk of osteoporosis, even at an older age. This is why you see older people eat dates or drink date juice more often than other age groups.
Your bones aren’t the only part of your body that need the minerals that you can get from dates. Your heart is perhaps the most important organ in your body, and thrives off of minerals such as potassium and magnesium to keep working efficiently. Dates have been shown to have a benefit for heart health, especially for those that are at risk for heart disease or heart attacks.
Potassium and other minerals have been linked with healthier cholesterol levels, as well. For those that get a healthy amount of potassium in their diet, you are more likely to see lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. You don’t even have to eat dates everyday to get this effect, as once or twice per week should be enough.
If you’re feeling fatigued more often than not, this could be a sign that you’re not getting enough iron in your diet. This is known as anemia, and can leave you feeling like you can hardly get yourself off of the couch. Dates are a good source of iron that can help you to get more energy throughout the day, and fight off the symptoms of anemia.
Even if you just need a temporary boost to get you through today, dates can help in that department. Dates have plenty of natural sugars to boost your energy which will be much more effective than caffeine or artificial sweeteners. People even chew on dates if they are trying to get through tough workouts to get some of their energy back.
Cleanse and Gain
Not everyone is trying to lose weight, as there are some who want to put on a few pounds. However, you don’t want all of that weight to just be extra water weight or waste since it’s only temporary. Dates are great at detoxifying your digestive system so that you’re not carrying all that extra weight while being high in beneficial calories. If you’re underweight, eating more dates is a great way to get up to a normal weight without damaging your body and actually bringing on meaningful pounds.
Summing it Up
While dates do have some great health benefits, you don’t want to be eating too many of them at a time. Dates are a bit higher on the glycemic index than other foods, which can lead to an increase in your blood sugar levels. The sugars found in dates are natural sugars, so it’s not nearly as bad as eating sugary sweets like candy. Dates are also a bit higher in calories, and could lead to some quick weight gain if you eat too many of them.
You can avoid any side effects just by eating the recommended amount, which shouldn’t be too hard. Dates are also high in fiber and potassium, which are two things that your body needs. However, these are things that your body can have too much of. An overabundance in fiber could lead to some temporary digestion problems while too much potassium can cause extreme fatigue. There are always good and bad things about every food, but the good comes from working a healthy amount into a healthy overall diet.