Dates are a sweet cylindrical commonly associated with Arabic or Middle Eastern and North American nations. They are considered sacred by Muslims and are commonly used to break the fast during Ramadan. One would be forgiven for dismissing them as low in nutritional value on the basis of their higher sugar content in a culture that largely demonizes sugar and sweets. Reject that position and the next time you’re craving something sweet, enjoy some dates guilt-free.
Each date has about 60-70% sugar as well as a high amount of fibre and packed with nutritional value that promotes overall health. This makes them a great source of energy and an immediate energy booster. They are also used as a natural sweetener in smoothies, juices, nutrition bars, and pastries including cakes and muffins. Dates are a healthy alternative to processed, added sugar which has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, and increased risk of dying from heart disease. They are also beneficial for blood sugar control and regulation and may help prevent blood sugar levels from spiking too high after meals.
Rich in Fiber Supporting Digestive Health
Dates are high in fibre and a good way to increase your fibre intake, improving your overall health. Fibre is linked to improved digestive health. Fibre helps prevent constipation and promotes regular bowel movements. Dates bulk up the stool and may also aid in relieving symptoms of constipation. People who took dates also had reduced levels of stool chemicals known to damage cells and trigger mutations that may lead to cancer. Just three dates provide about 18% of the daily recommended fibre intake. Eat some dates and keep it moving.
Dates are rich in various minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, and vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K. All the minerals and vitamins also help boost the immune system, maintaining it in good condition.
Rich in Antioxidants
Dates are rich in antioxidants which are known to reduce the risk of several diseases. The three most potent antioxidants in dates are Flavonoids, Carotenoids, and Phenolic acid. Flavonoids help in reducing the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Carotenoids promote heart health and reduce the risk of eye-related disorders such as macular degeneration. Phenolic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease.
The high iron content helps prevent anaemia and its symptoms.
Nervous and reproductive system
Dates contain serotonin which is known for improving the mood. It makes it a great choice in cases of anxiety, fatigue and even alcohol intoxication. When it comes to the reproductive system, dates have been found to enhance fertility, improve sperm quality and quantity, and are considered an excellent aphrodisiac. Eating dates while pregnant also helps ease labour and birth with multiple studies showing a positive effect on labour with no adverse effect on mother and child.
Clearly, dates have numerous benefits. They promote brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. They promote heart health, lowering the risk of heart disease, and also reduce the risk of cancer. They help regulate blood sugar and also reduce the risk of diabetes. They promote bone health by strengthening bones. Dates help ease natural labour and reverse anaemia. They also help relieve intoxication and prevent hangovers. Reach for a packet of dates, use them as a natural sweetener for your smoothies and pastries or just feed your sweet tooth with zero guilt.
As you choose healthy food options, here’s a piece on the health benefits of broccoli.