Dates come from the fruit of the date palm tree, which is grown in many tropical regions of the world. Other names associated with dates are Medjool and Deglet Noor. They are the most commonly consumed varieties. Dates are also particularly beneficial during Ramadan because they are high in sugar and vitamins such as potassium and magnesium as well as an excellent source of fiber and carbohydrates.
When fasting the body can easily develop mild health conditions like low blood sugar, headaches and lethargy. Breaking the fast with dates has always been a Ramadan tradition. In Hadith literature it is written that the Messenger of Allah would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. Therefore, eating dates during this time has a spiritual significance. Dates have a long history in the Middle East as they have been cultivated in the area for thousands of years. The hot, arid climate provides ideal conditions for date palms to thrive.
According to the fdc.nal.usda.gov, nd, One serving (100 grams) has the following ingredients:
- 277 calorie
- 75 grams carbohydrates
- 1.8 grams protein
- 0.2 grams fat
- 6.7 grams fiber
- 696 milligrams potassium (20 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligrams copper (18 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligrams manganese (15 percent DV)
- 54 milligrams magnesium (14 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams vitamin B6 (12 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams niacin (8 percent DV)
- 0.8 milligrams pantothenic acid (8 percent DV)
- 64 milligrams calcium (6 percent DV)
- 62 milligrams phosphorus (6 percent DV)
- 0.9 milligrams iron (5 percent DV)
Apart from the above constituents, Medjool dates nutrition contains some vitamin A, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, choline and zinc.
They are to be eaten in moderation. As a healthy snack, one or two dates are typically consumed. One Medjool date (about 24 grams) contains approximately 66.5 calories, 16 grams of sugar and 0 trans fats.
Scientific Studies on Dates
Dates have been studied for their potential to promote and ease late-term labor in pregnant women. A study by Kordi et al., 2017, affirmed that, consuming dates in the last few weeks of pregnancy may promote cervical dilation and lower the need for induced labor. They may also be helpful for reducing labor time.
Another retrospective study by Al-Kuran et al., 2011,examined 69 women who ate 6 dates per day for 4 weeks before their due date had 20% chances to go into labor naturally and were in labor for significantly less time than those who did not eat them.
Another prospective study by Razali et al.,2017, included 154 pregnant women and demonstrates that those who ate dates were much less likely to be induced compared to those who did not.
A third study by Kordi et al.,2017, involved 91 pregnant women who took 70–76 grams of dates daily at 37th week of pregnancy. They entered in active labor for an average of 4 fewer hours than those who did not eat dates. Though, there is some research backing eating dates to help induce labor and reduce labor duration, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
Mechanism of Action
Kordi et al., 2017; Kuran et al., 2011, studies opined that, dates promote labor in pregnancy by using a compounds that bind to oxytocin receptors and appear to mimic the effects of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes labor contractions during childbirth
Kordi et al., 2017, study also demonstrates that the tannins compounds in dates have been proven to speed contractions. They are also a good source of natural sugar and calories, which are necessary to maintain energy levels during labor. Hence, in conclusion, dates help promote and stimulate natural labor for pregnant women when eaten during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
The most significant dates benefit is a reduction in unhealthy cholesterol levels. When consume, there is an increase in insoluble and soluble fiber intake, and ultimately reduces cholesterol naturally — especially LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. LDL is the bad guy that triggers heart attacks, heart disease and stroke, and dates deal with this bad guy.
One study by Borochov-Neori et al., 2013, demonstrates that Medjool dates, coupled with different dates, “inhibited LDL oxidation, and most extracts also stimulated cholesterol removal from macrophages.”
Additionally, Rock et al.,2009, demonstrates that Medjool dates are rich in antioxidative properties in vitro. In this study, ten healthy respondents took 100 grams daily of either Medjool or Hallawi dates for four weeks. The study posits that, Medjool dates reduced blood triglyceride levels by 8 percent among the participants.
Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When there is a high triglycerides in the blood, it can increase your risk of heart disease.
Not only that, another study by Rahmani et al.,2014, found that, dates low glycemic index coupled with fiber and antioxidants potential has effect on reducing blood sugar level, hence, good for diabetic management.
Support Bone Health
Dates support osteoporosis due to the many minerals it contains. Minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. All of these have been studied for their potential to prevent bone-related conditions like osteoporosis. Calcium further support the heart, nerves, muscles and other body systems. The phosphorous content helps balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc.
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, fiber and antioxidants that they provide.
Research demonstrates that there is a direct link between increased sugar consumption in food and increased diabetes rates. A delicious fruit, like a Medjool date, provides a truly satisfying alternative to eating a candy bar or brownie loaded with refined sugar.
The best way to substitute dates for white sugar is to make date paste, as in this recipe, to be accessed at https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/date-paste-goodbye-refined-sugar/: 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 fiber and nutrients, they are still fairly high in calories and best consumed in moderation.
Dates improve brain function
One Laboratory studies by Essa et al.,2016, demonstrates that dates help in 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.
The same study also assert that dates reduces the activity of amyloid beta proteins, which can form plaques in the brain. Murphy et al.,2010, explained that, when plaques get in the brain, they may disturb communication between brain cells, which can ultimately lead to brain cell death and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another animal study by Subash et al., 2015, demonstrates that mice fed food mixed with dates had significantly better memory and learning ability, as well as less anxiety-related behaviors, compared to those that did not eat them.
Essa et al., 2016, study further demonstrates that the potential brain-boosting properties of dates is as a result of their content of antioxidants known to reduce inflammation, including flavonoids. More human studies are needed to confirm the role of dates in brain health.
Natural Energy Booster
Dates contain natural sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars are easily processed and utilized by the body for energy. Eating some Medjool dates gives you energy.
The high fiber content of Medjool dates helps to deal with constipation. Depending upon age and gender, the Institute of Medicine recommends 19 grams to 38 grams of fiber per day. Dates have high soluble fiber foods, which keep bowel movements regular by adding bulk to stool and helping it move faster through the intestines.
Rich Source of Beneficial Phytochemicals
- Immune system stimulation
- Prevention of substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens
- Reduction in the type of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely
- Prevention of DNA damage
- Decreased growth rate of cancer cells
- Improved hormone regulation
Medjool vs. Regular Dates
Annie Price, 2019, explained the different varieties of dates:
- Many varieties of dates exist globally, but the Medjool date is one of two of the most commercially produced varieties within the United States. The other most commonly produced is the Deglet Noor(or Nour) date, which is what many people consider a “regular date.”
- They both come from different varieties of the same plant.
- Compared to regular dates, Medjools are larger, softer and sweeter. Unlike Medjool dates, it’s possible to purchase Deglet Noor dates without their pits inside.
- Medjool dates nutrition is very similar to regular dates. Both are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- They also both contain significant amounts of natural sugar, but since they are lowon the glycemic index they don’t affect blood sugar levels like refined sugars.
- Medjools and regular dates can be used interchangeably in recipes, but Medjools do have a sweeter, richer flavor so keep that in mind. Deglet Noor dates also tend to have a firmer consistency.
As with any fruit, moderation is always key. Due to their high natural sugar content as well, diabetics should keep monitoring their blood sugar. There is also allergy attached to date consumption. In case you experience any food allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose, tongue swelling, itchy eyes or facial redness, then discontinue consumption of and seek medical attention.
- Dates may promote and ease natural labor for pregnant women when consumed during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- Dates may be helpful for lowering inflammation and preventing plaques from forming in the brain, which is important for preventing Alzheimer’s disease
- Dates are a healthy substitute for white sugar in recipes due to their sweet taste, nutrients, fiber and antioxidants.
- Dates have been claimed to promote bone health and aid in blood sugar control, but these effects have not been studied sufficiently.
- They are high in several nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, all of which may provide health benefits ranging from improved digestion to a reduced risk of disease.
- There are several ways to add dates to your diet. One popular way to eat them is as a natural sweetener in various dishes. They also make a great snack.
- They are also a source of numerous phytochemicals that can benefit health in major ways, including cancer prevention.
- Other potential health benefits of dates include reduced cholesterol, improved digestion and lowered triglyceride levels.
- Medjool dates nutrition also makes them perfect natural energy boosters.
- In comparing Medjool dates vs. dates, Medjools are larger, softer and sweeter than regular dates (Deglet Noor dates). Regular dates are available already pitted.
The writer is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips, scientific herbs and healthy recipes in the world.
DISCLAIMER This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
The writer is an honorary Professor of Naturopathic Medicine and chartered management Consultant. He is the president of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, currently, LLB law level 300 student. Contact: 0241083423/0541234556.
- Dates, nd, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168191/nutrients
- Kordi M, Meybodi FA, Tara F, Fakari FR, Nemati M, Shakeri M. Effect of Dates in Late Pregnancy on the Duration of Labor in Nulliparous Women. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2017 Sep-Oct;22(5):383-387. doi: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_213_15. PMID: 29033994; PMCID: PMC5637148
- Al-Kuran O, Al-Mehaisen L, Bawadi H, Beitawi S, Amarin Z. The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2011;31(1):29-31. doi: 10.3109/01443615.2010.522267. PMID: 21280989.
- Razali N, Mohd Nahwari SH, Sulaiman S, Hassan J. Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2017 Jul;37(5):595-600. doi: 10.1080/01443615.2017.1283304. Epub 2017 Mar 13. PMID: 28286995.
- Borochov-Neori H, Judeinstein S, Greenberg A, Volkova N, Rosenblat M, Aviram M. Date (Phoenix dactylifera L.) fruit soluble phenolics composition and anti-atherogenic properties in nine Israeli varieties. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 May 8;61(18):4278-86. doi: 10.1021/jf400782v. Epub 2013 Apr 25. PMID: 23587027.
- Rahmani, A. H., Aly, S. M., Ali, H., Babiker, A. Y., Srikar, S., & Khan, A. A. (2014). Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine, 7(3), 483–491.
- Rock W, Rosenblat M, Borochov-Neori H, Volkova N, Judeinstein S, Elias M, Aviram M. Effects of date (Phoenix dactylifera L., Medjool or Hallawi Variety) consumption by healthy subjects on serum glucose and lipid levels and on serum oxidative status: a pilot study. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Sep 9;57(17):8010-7. doi: 10.1021/jf901559a. PMID: 19681613.
- Essa, M. M., Akbar, M., & Khan, M. A. (2016). Beneficial effects of date palm fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural regeneration research, 11(7), 1071–1072. https://doi.org/10.4103/1673-5374.187032
- Murphy, M. P., & LeVine, H., 3rd (2010). Alzheimer’s disease and the amyloid-beta peptide. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease: JAD, 19(1), 311–323. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2010-1221
- Subash, S., Essa, M. M., Braidy, N., Awlad-Thani, K., Vaishnav, R., Al-Adawi, S., Al-Asmi, A., & Guillemin, G. J. (2015). Diet rich in date palm fruits improves memory, learning and reduces beta amyloid in transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 6(2), 111–120. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.159073