Health Benefits of Dates – Promoting Heart, Brain, and Digestive Health
by Mike Barrett
Natuarl Society, 5 March 2013
A product of the date palm and cultivated since approximately 6000 B.C, the date fruit is one of the sweetest fruits around and also happens to come in many different varieties. Although dates can be eaten fresh, the fruit is very often dried, resembling raisins or plums. But whether fresh or dry, the health benefits of dates are still just as plentiful.
Nutritional Content of Dates
If you’re looking for fiber, potassium, or copper, look no further than dates. While dates are rich in many vital nutrients and therefore offer many health benefits, the fruit is so small that you’ll need to consume a larger quantity to intake the necessary amount. The following nutritional data outlines some of the key nutrients found in dates, and is based on a 100g serving of the fruit.
- Fiber – 6.7 grams. 27% RDA.
- Potassium – 696 milligrams. 20% RDA.
- Copper – 0.4 milligrams. 18% RDA.
- Manganese – 0.3 milligrams. 15% RDA.
- Magnesium – 54 milligrams. 14% RDA.
- Vitamin B6 – 0.2 milligrams. 12% RDA.
Note: Dates are high in sugar content – coming in at a whopping 66.5 grams per 100 gram serving of the fruit. It is recommended to lessen sugar consumption as much as possible, even when the sugar is being consumed from fruit.
Check out the USDA Nutrient Database for a full nutritional profile of dates.
The Known Health Benefits of Dates – What the Date Fruit Has to Offer
Dates aren’t exactly a nutritional powerhouse when compared to some other foods like kiwi or sesame seeds, but the fruit does still offer numerous health benefits along with great taste. Here are some health benefits of dates.
- 1. Promoting Digestive Health, Relieving Constipation – Fiber is essential for promoting colon health and making for regular bowel movements. The insoluble and soluble fiber found in dates help to clean out the gastrointestinal system, allowing the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency. Some other benefits relating to fiber and colon health are reduced risks of colitis, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids. (Dates could even be coupled with other home remedies for hemorrhoids.)
- 2. Boosting Heart Health – In addition to promoting colon health, fiber is also known to boost heart health. In fact, the FDA has even approved health claims relating to fiber’s ability to reduce risk of coronary heart disease risk and the prevention of some cancer types.
- 3. Anti-Inflammatory – Dates are rich in magnesium – a mineral known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. One study found that ”inflammatory indicators in the body such as CRP (C-reactive protein), TNF (tumor necrosis factor alpha), and IL6 (interleukin 6) were all reduced when magnesium intake was increased.” Further, inflammation in the arterial walls was also reduced with magnesium intake. Based on magnesium’s anti-inflammatory properties and the findings of this study, magnesium can effectively reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-related health ailments.
- 4. Reduced Blood Pressure – Magnesium has been shown to help lower blood pressure – and again, dates are full of the mineral. Additionally, potassium is another mineral in dates that has several functions within the body, aiding with the proper workings of the heart and helping to reduce blood pressure.
- 5. Reduced Stroke Risk – After evaluating 7 studies published over a 14 year time period, researchers found stroke risk was reduced by 9% for every every 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumes per day. The research can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- 6. A Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery – Further adding to the health benefits of dates, one study performed by researchers at the University of Science and Technology set out to discover how the date fruit impacted labor parameters and delivery outcomes. After studying 69 women for a year and 1 month, the researchers found that “the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome. The results warrant a randomised controlled trial.”
- 7. Boosting Brain Health – Some studies, such as one found in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that sufficient vitamin B6 levels are associated with improved brain performance and better test scores.
A Summary of Dates Health Benefits: Dates are Great for:
- Weight loss
- Relieving constipation, supporting regular bowel movements
- Promoting heart health, reducing heart disease risk
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Reducing blood pressure
- Promoting respiratory and digestive health
- Pregnancy deliveries
- Hemorrhoid prevention
- Chronic conditions such as arthritis
- Reducing colitis risk
- Preventing colon cancer