Dates are a popular type of fruit that has been around for a long time. The origin of dates can be traced back to almost 5320 BC. The fruit is a staple item for people in the middle east and North Africa. Mainly cultivated in these regions, dates are highly beneficial due to the innate composition of macronutrients and many other healthy elements.
The need for dates to be included in your diet will form a long list. Its highly beneficial advantages can be harnessed by introducing it into your diet. In this article, we will be trying to educate you on the benefits dates have on your health and also on the nutritional marvel that it is. We will also be discussing some date recipes which will help you in making dates a part of your diet.
What are Dates?
Dates are basically tropical fruits that are grown on date palm trees. It’s scientifically known as Phoenix Dactylifera and is one of the healthiest fruits in the world. Dates are categorised as dry fruits and have been an important part of West Asian heritage.
Dates have high natural sugar content. The dry fruit version of dates is richer in calories than the fresh fruit. The high-calorie content in dates has led to their popularity as they provide energy throughout the day.
Benefits of Dates:
The high nutrient content of the fruit contributes to its highly beneficial properties. The need for a comprehensive fruit diet cannot be fulfilled without the inclusion of dates. In the below section we will be discussing the various benefits that dates can have on your health.
1. Dates are Highly Nutritious:
The nutrition data of dates are really off the charts. The fruits are packed with a lot of essential vitamins and other nutrients that can be extremely helpful to your overall health. Dates are also rich in fibre and carbs which without a doubt makes it one of the healthiest dry fruits.
Nutritional Value per 100g of dates:
Calories – 282
Protein – 5.1 g
Total Fat – 0.4 g
Sodium – 2 mg
Potassium – 656 mg
Carbohydrates (dietary fibres and sugar) – 75 g
Antioxidants – 80400 micromol
* These values may differ from variant to variant.
2. Aids Healthy Bowel Movements:
The fibre content in dates are extremely high, this can be highly beneficial to people who are suffering from health issues caused due to irregular bowel movements. In a study conducted on a group of 21 tests subject, the results showed that dates helped in regular bowel movements for the group who consumed it daily for a week. The group who did not consume dates faced irregular bowel movements. It was also noticed that the concentration of ammonia in the stool was also significantly reduced when dates were consumed regularly. Therefore, it can be conclusively said that the effect dates have on your overall diet and health is unparalleled. They can aid your digestive health and help you lead a healthy life.
3. High Concentration of Antioxidants:
Antioxidants are basically compounds that inhibit the process of oxidation and thereby eliminates the dangerous free radicals which can cause a lot of harm to your cells. Oxidation can be very dangerous as it can be very harmful to the structural and genetic integrity of your cells.
Dates are known for their high concentration of antioxidants. When compared to other dried fruits in the same category, dates tops the chart with the highest concentration of antioxidants. The need for antioxidants in your daily diet cannot be stressed more. Dates are rich in antioxidants including:
- Carotenoids: Carotenoids are known for their ability to significantly reduce the chances of macular degeneration which can be highly dangerous to your ocular well- being. Carotenoids are also known for their ability to work wonders for your heart. Cardiac health is one of the most pressing issues in today’s health scenario and the use of dates can help in promoting better heart health.
- Flavonoids: This is an antioxidant that can benefit your body by helping with multiple issues. Flavonoids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and their high affinity in helping to reduce the effects of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Flavonoids are also beneficial to your brain and work a lot towards the reduction of the risk for brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. There are also indications that prove that Flavonoids can also help in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer too.
- Phenolic Acid: Phenolic acid is a much-discussed antioxidant mainly known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It has got a very good history in reducing the risk of developing cardiac issues and also works a lot in reducing the chances of being inflicted by certain types of cancer.
4. Improves Brain Functionality:
Inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin can be extremely dangerous to your brain. The increased presence of IL-6 (Interleukin 6) is attributed to the development of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease. The presence of inflammatory markers is never a good sign for your neural health and therefore it is to be considered with extreme care.
The regular use of dates has been found to be beneficial in reducing the IL-6 levels and thereby helping in reducing the risk of developing brain degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. An in-vivo study on mice has also shown that the inclusion of date palm in the feed leads to the reduction of amyloid beta-protein activity which can reduce the production of plaques that can harm the brain. Plaques are highly dangerous and can lead to cell death causing severe conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
The study also showed that consuming dates reduce issues related to anxiety disorder and also helps in boosting memory and learning. The effects regular consumption of dates can have on your neural health is manifold. Besides preventing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s they can also help in the overall improvement of your brain.
5. Facilitates Natural Labour:
Pregnant women who eat dates regularly have a higher chance of delivering by natural labour. The complications that arise out of cesarean deliveries are harmful to women giving birth. Eating dates at the later stages of pregnancy can help in making the entire process of delivery much smoother.
There are results from studies that show that using dates as a part of the regular diet of a pregnant woman can help in reducing the pressure that is applied while trying to deliver the baby.
These effects appear due to the unique compounds present in dates that have the ability to reduce the need for oxytocin during pregnancy. These compounds successfully mimic the effects of oxytocin by binding to the receptors and brings around a chance to have healthy contractions during labour. Dates also have a high concentration of tannins which also helps in facilitating contractions during labour.
6. Reduces Risk of Cancer:
In-depth studies about dates revealed that the presence of a compound called beta D-glucan in dates is very advantageous in promoting an anti-tumour activity within the body. The high concentration of antioxidants in dates also helps in reducing the activities of free radicals (elements that can cause cancer) and thereby reduces the chances of cancer from happening. The daily consumption of dates can significantly reduce the risk of cancer and the occurrence of benign tumours too.
7. Prevents Microbial Infections:
Bacterial infections can sometimes be deadly and can also cost a lot to treat. In the current medical scenario, almost all microbial infections are treated with the help of antibiotics which is an expensive way of treatment and also comes with a baggage of side effects. Substituting antibiotics with natural products can be both a physically and financially sound decision. A study conducted using extracts from the pits and leaves of date, revealed that it had active resistance against certain harmful bacteria. It was found that dates can be beneficial against deadly microbes such as E-coli and pneumonia.
8. Helps Fight Diabetes:
Diabetes Mellitus is one of the most common diseases around the world. Diabetes is treated using synthetic medicines with a combination of several oral medicines and insulin supplementation.
Dates have the ability to increase the production of insulin and also have several properties that can help reduce the rate of absorption of glucose from the intestine. This can help a lot in reducing the risk that is posed by diabetes. The reduction of glucose absorption will inevitably reduce blood glucose levels that are beneficial for people suffering from diabetes. The exact procedure of how dates help in reducing the effects of diabetes is still being researched upon.
9. Works as an Anti-Inflammatory Agent:
Inflammation is a reactive mechanism of the human body that helps fight against several diseases, trauma and infections. The regulation of inflammatory agents plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of the patient.
Compounds in dates known as phenolics and flavonoids are effective in reducing inflammation within the body. There are proofs from conclusive studies that show that the extracts from date leaves can be used as an effective anti-inflammatory drug.
10. Can Protect Your Kidneys:
Dates have various properties that can help your kidneys stay healthy in difficult circumstances. In a study conducted on Ajwa, a type of date that is mainly found in West Asia, it was found that the fruit can actively reduce the lesions caused by nephrological disorders. Date extracts can also help reduce excess plasma and creatinine in the kidney that improves the overall health of kidneys.
11. Can Improve Fertility Among Males:
There are various vitamins and minerals present in the fruit which can help in improving the sperm count and also in increasing the sexual libido in the person. The presence of flavonoids and various amino acids in dates makes sure that the sexual performance of the male is fulfilled with enough energy. The microelements that are constituents of date palm such as estrone and sterols can help improve male fertility by a huge margin. Date pollen extracts are also studied widely for their positive effects on male sperm motility and count.
12. Promotes Bone Health:
Dates are highly rich in micronutrients such as selenium, manganese, magnesium and copper. These micronutrients help in the development of your bone health. Dates can be one of the most important supplements to your diet if you are suffering from bone problems. The micronutrients in dates are also highly effective in treating bone conditions such as osteoporosis. So, it’s highly advisable that you include dates as a part of your diet for healthier bones.
13. Adds Strength to Your Nervous System:
The nervous system is basically the communication network that keeps your body functioning. Neurological problems are highly dangerous as they can affect multiple parts of the body at the same time.
Dates are rich in nutrients such as potassium which is very beneficial for your neurological health. Foods that are high in potassium makes the communication between nerve cells easier. The low amount of sodium in dates also reduces the chances of hypertension which in turn will help keep your nerves safe from increased blood pressure.
14. Improves Your Skin:
Dates are a very good alternative to harmful chemicals found in skincare products. The high concentration of vitamin C and vitamin D in dates ensure that your skin receives all the nourishment required for healthy glowing skin. Vitamin C & D work for the improvement of your skin’s elasticity which is very hard to maintain as you age.
The nutrients present in dates are also helpful in preventing faster ageing and helps you look young for a longer period of time. Dates are also useful in maintaining a healthy balance of melanin in your skin by reducing the chances of it being deposited in various locations.
15. Reduces the Rate of Hair Loss:
Dates are a very good substitute to many over the counter medications that claim to stop hair fall. Dates are extremely rich in iron which makes them extremely beneficial for your hair. The increased iron content in dates ensures that the blood flow remains strong and the scalp gets the nourishment it deserves. The increased flow of oxygen to your scalp will facilitate the growth of new hair and also reduce the rate of hair fall by a great margin.
16. Helps Deal with Hangovers:
Most millennials today miss a lot of productivity due to drinking the prior day. There are various products out there that are beneficial to heal the problems associated with alcohol-induced hangovers. Although not conclusively proved, there are many cases in which soaked dates has helped reduce the effects of inebriation and hangovers.
For better results, it is advised that the date is peeled gently and soaked in water and has to be consumed the following morning. There are also known cases in many tribal communities where date palm extracts are added to beer to reduce the intoxicating effect it has. Taking a couple of dates after the party night can get you up and running for the following days.
17. Dates are Rich In Vitamins:
Dates can provide you with a great dose of Vitamin requirement for your body. It is a great alternative to Vitamin supplements. Dried or fresh dates are both very good sources of vitamins including B1, B2, B3 and B5. These are all essential vitamins that are required to maintain the optimum health of your body. The need for vitamins can be easily met by including a sufficient amount of dates in your daily diet.
18. Reduces the Chance of Getting Night Blindness:
The major cause of night blindness is long-term deprivation of vitamin A. Dates are rich in vitamin A and regular consumption of it can ensure that you do not get affected by night blindness in the long run. The use of dates to cure night blindness is recorded in the history of West Asian countries. Date palms are one of the oldest natural medicine that is recommended to heal problems arising out of vitamin A deficiency.
19. Dates are Excellent Sweeteners:
The high content of fructose in dates provides the caramel-like sweetness in the fruit. Substituting white sugar with dates that are turned into a paste can make your meal sweet as well as healthy at the same time. So, reduce the use of white sugar and introduce some date paste into your diet to reduce the consumption of processed sugar.
20. Dates are Versatile:
Versatility in food, basically means that it can be used in preparing a wide variety of recipes. Even though dates are mostly consumed in their fresh or dried formats, they have an excellent quality of blending with multiple recipes. Dates are widely used in the preparation of baked and sweet products due to their greasy and sticky nature.
The versatility of dates makes it very easily consumable even by people who might not like the flavour of it. Dates can incessantly blend with baked goods and provide a sufficient amount of nutrition that is required for a healthy lifestyle. You can enjoy all the goodness of dates without even realizing you are consuming dates, this is a boon for many mothers as they try to introduce their kids to healthy diets.
Types of Dates:
Dates are extremely nutritious and are packed with multiple benefits as you have read in the above sections. Not all dates look and taste the same. There are various varieties of this fruit that can be found across the globe. These varieties are all beneficial and differ mostly due to the country of origin.
5 Easy Date Recipes:
Most people believe that dates can be only consumed in the format it comes to the stores. These people are the ones who are truly unlucky to miss out on the endless possibilities that come from the versatile nature of dates. In the below section we will show you the magic dates can bring to your diet when used correctly.
1. Banana Date Smoothie:
Making a smoothie for breakfast is one of the easiest things to do. It adds enough nutrition to the body to get through the morning.
- Ripe Bananas – Two
- Pitted Dried Dates – Quarter Cup
- Almond Milk – Two Cups
- Chia Seeds – Two Tea Spoons
- Ground Cardamom – Half Teaspoon
- Juiced Lime – Half Cut
- Ice Cubes – Four
- Ground Cinnamon – A Pinch
- Salt – A Pinch
Method of Preparation:
It’s quite easy to prepare this smoothie, you just need to add all the ingredients into a blender and blend at high speed. Once it’s smooth, take it out and serve in two large glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon on top.
2. Fig & Date Oatmeal Baked with Pecans:
An oatmeal breakfast can keep you up and running for a considerable amount of time. Introduce a little date to it and you have a superfood on your plate.
- Chopped Pecans – Three Tablespoons
- Raw Sugar – Quarter Cup Plus One Tablespoon
- Cornstarch – One Tablespoon
- Butter Unsalted – Three Tablespoons
- Rolled Oats – One and a Half Cup
- Baking Powder – One Teaspoon
- Ground Cinnamon – Half Teaspoon
- Chopped & Pitted Medjool Dates – Six Pieces
- Milk – Three Fourth of a Cup
- Egg – One Large
- Figs Thin Slices – Two Pieces
Method of Preparation:
- Start by preheating your oven to 350 Degree Fahrenheit
- Mix one tablespoon of sugar, cornstarch and finely chopped pecans in a bowl.
- Take out an 8-inch pie baking plate and add butter to it and heat until the butter is melted in the oven.
- Grease the pan with the heated butter and scoop two spoons to add to the pecan mixture to be set aside.
- Take a big bowl and mix chopped dates, a quarter cup of raw sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and oats.
- Add the melted butter into a bowl and mix with egg and milk and stir properly.
- Now pour the mix into the pie plate and add the sliced figs on the top. Garnish the mixture with the pecan mixture.
- Bake for around 30 minutes and notice if the pie is turning brown and the edges are hard. Once done slice and serve.
3. Tahini Date with Salted Caramel:
Caramel candies are always a delight. Mix it with the nutrition and the excellent taste of Tahini dates and you have a healthy candy to munch on.
- Pitted Dates – One Cup
- Tahini – Half Cup
- Coconut Oil – Two Tablespoon
- Cardamom Grounded – Half Teaspoon
- Finishing Salt – One-Eighth of a Teaspoon
Method of Preparation:
- Create a thick, smooth and creamy paste in a blender using ingredients like Tahini, cardamom, dates and coconut oil.
- Pour the paste into a loaf pan and even it out using a spatula.
- Sprinkle the finishing salt.
- Freeze the mixture until it becomes hard. Then take it out of the pan and cut it into small pieces.
- These candies can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a month.
4. Creamy Orange Date Smoothie:
Oranges are an excellent source of a bunch of natural vitamins. Combine it with dates and you have a highly nutritious drink that is extremely tasty.
- Medium Orange Peeled and Frozen – One
- Coconut Milk Unsweetened – One Cup
- Sweet Potato Flesh – One Third Cup
- Medjool Dates – Two Pieces
- Tahini – One Tablespoon
- Bee Pollen – One Teaspoon
- Vanilla Extract – Half Teaspoon
- Sea Salt – One Pinch
- Sesame Seeds – For Garnish
Method of Preparation:
- The preparation of this smoothie is fairly easy. You just have to add all the ingredients into a blender and mix at high speed until the blend is creamy and smooth. This usually does not take more than 45 seconds.
5. Date Syrup:
Date syrup is an excellent alternative for artificial sweeteners like white sugar. If you are suffering from health issues like type 2 diabetes and still has a craving for sweet food, replacing sweet with date syrup can be very beneficial. Date syrup when concentrated can be used in any sort of preparation.
- Oil – One Cup
- Dried and Pitted Medjool Dates – One Pound
- Water – Four Cups
- Measuring Cup
- Jar with Lids
- Fine Mesh Strainer
Method of Preparation:
- Cut Dates – Use kitchen shears with oiled edges to finely chop the dates.
- Simmer the dates in water with occasional stirring for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the simmered mixture and allow it to cool down for 30 minutes.
- Blend the cooled mixture in a blender until it becomes sweet for about one minute.
- Use the fine mesh strain covered with cheesecloth to strain the mixture to get rid of all small pieces. Take out the cheesecloth and strain it to get the entire solution out.
- You can then taste the syrup and determine if it is sweet enough, if not you can reheat to thicken it to attain the level of sweetness in a saucepan.
Dates are highly beneficial for overall use. If you are seeking to reduce the number of health issues you encounter due to the lack of nutrients present in your diet, dates are the one thing that you cannot choose to ignore from your daily diet. Experiment using the above recipes to create an appetite for dates and improve your overall health.
The Grand Story of Dates: History
Dates are one of the most consumed fruits in the middle east. But does dates have a historical significance that leads the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to put it in the centre of their royal emblem? Well, dates played an important role in enabling the Arab spring around the medieval ages. It’s considered genuine to say that palm is also a valid symbol of Islam just as the crescent moon and the star. The Arabian peninsula is unarguably a dry one, and this makes vegetation to be very scarce in the area, dates, therefore, holds a lot of power in the agricultural output of the country.
Archaeological evidence from various parts of Egypt and Syria has concluded that remains of dates are present since the neolithic states. This makes it evident that dates have been consumed for more than 8000 years. Dates are also mentioned in some of the scriptures that are written around the third millennium BC which makes dates one of the oldest recorded fruits in the world.
There are pieces of evidence such as old royal seals that showcase dates as a sacred tree in the parts of Assyria and Greece. There are references made about the tree in the Quran which makes its religious aspects even more assertive. This reference is very clear in the section where Mary gives birth to the prophet Jesus and when she cries in pain, God tells her to shake the palm tree and it will give you fresh and ripe dates that will make her eyes be gladdened.
References about dates have also been made in the hadith. There is a specific section that states that having about seven pieces of Ajwa dates in the morning will keep you safe from magic and poison throughout the day. The importance the fruit holds in the Muslims of the Arabian peninsula is thus very clear.
Certain legends also claim that Dates were the first plant to be planted after Noah disembarked from his journey at the holy land. If or not this is true can never be confirmed however the trend of cultivating dates spread to the other parts of the African continent and also along the coast of Spain. The nomadic tribe saw dates as the prime fruit for survival, its high nutritional value gave them the energy required to survive in the harsh environment of the desert and the natural sweeteners in them made them extremely tasty for them to consume.
The date seeds unique ability to lie dormant for centuries and still be able to germinate gave it the scientific name of Phoenix. There are many stories in the Mediterranean closely associated with the magical effects of date palms. There is one particular site in Arabia called Al-Madinah where the “Date of Light” are present and the trees there are said to shine on themselves due to the quality of the seeds that were used by a lady as beads in the rosary.
Now that you have a deep understanding of the benefits of dates there might be some questions that must be bothering you. In the below section we will try and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about dates.
1. Will eating dates make me fat?
Dates are natural fruits that are high in fructose and sugar, these elements are known to keep you fat. Yet, when consumed in moderation dates can help you in losing weight due to their high calorie and nutrition content which can reduce your craving for fatty foods. But if you overeat dates it can definitely make you put on a little more weight.
2. Do dates reduce blood sugar?
Replacing dates with other artificial sweetening agents can help in reducing the blood sugar level. Glycemic foods are the main reason for the increase in blood sugar and using dates can help in reducing the intake of glycemic foods that are low on the glycemic count will obviously help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
3. What is the best type of dates?
All dates are good for your health, however, some varieties top the chart due to their yummy taste and high nutritional value. Medjool dates are said to be the most healthy by many, however, this will solely be dependant upon your taste for the dates.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.