Dates health benefits includes relieving constipation, providing rapid energy, helping prevent night blindness, controlling cholesterol levels, and helping control blood pressure. Other benefits includes preserving healthy intestinal microbiome, reducing the risk of colon cancer, supporting a healthy pregnancy, slowing down aging process and boosting sexual desire.
What is Dates?
When many people think of dates, they usually think of them as snack or sweet treats, without any real significance in a diet. However, this is not true, as dates are nutritional powerhouses and should be consumed more often and taken advantage of. Dates actually come from a type of palm tree, and seems to have originated in the Middle Eastern area of Iraq. Regardless of their origin, dates have multiple uses beyond that of health, but the benefits we are interested in stem from the support it can offer the human body.
Nutritional Values of Dates
Dates are extremely nutritious, possessing the following Nutritional profile per 100g serving size:
Protein 1.81g- approx. 3% RDI
Total Fat 0.15 g- <1% of RDI
Carbohydrates 74.97 g- 58% RDI
Dietary Fiber 6.7 g- 18% RDI
Folic Acid- 15 µg
Niacin 1.610 mg
Vitamin A- 149 IU
Vitamin K- 2.7 µg
Potassium- 696 mg
Calcium- 64 mg
Magnesium- 54 mg
Phosphorus- 62 mg
Dates also contain many more vitamins and minerals, but in very small amounts and not sufficient to meet your daily recommended intake.
11 Impressive Health Benefits of Dates
1. Help Relieve Constipation
Dates are used traditionally in many parts of the world as a natural laxative to relive occasional constipation. Though they can be consumed as is, it is believed that by soaking them overnight and reducing the consistency to that of a sticky syrup provides greater benefit (although this is yet to be proven).
Regardless of how you choose to consume them, their use as natural laxatives is likely due to their high levels of soluble fiber, which absorb water as it transits through the intestinal tract. When it eventually enters the colon, the remnants of this fiber hydrate hardened feces and allow easy expulsion.
2. Provide A Rapid Energy Source
Dates are comprised of a large proportion of simple sugars, being mainly in the form of glucose and fructose, which are used heavily for energy by the body. Consuming a few dates prior to exercise or strenuous activity ensures that your brain and muscles have enough energy to perform at a high intensity.
Dates are also convenient to keep if you are a diabetic, as their sugars are rapidly absorbed into the blood for use in the case of an event where your blood sugar drops too low, too fast. They should not be consumed frequently if you struggle to keep your blood sugar under control, as their generous carbohydrate content can add to your diabetes woes.
3. Help Prevent Night Blindness
Many people struggle with vision under poor lighting conditions even though their eyes may physically be in great shape. This has many causes, but among them are those caused by a deficiency of Vitamin A or its related carotenoids anti-oxidants.
Dates can also play an important role in delaying macular degeneration of the eye as a result of aging, helping preserve vision for a longer time.
4. Help Control Cholesterol Levels
There are actually many different varieties of dates, with differing nutritional profiles among some of them. By far, the most common variety is the medjool type, but another called the Hallawi has shown potential in reducing blood cholesterol levels. The Hallawi variety also possesses a greater proportion of catechins, compounds related to those in tea that have a cholesterol lowering effect.
They simultaneously reduce levels of bad the bad cholesterol LDL, and raise concentration of good HDL, even though they have a relatively high sugar level. In addition, dates also prevent oxidation of cholesterol, which in turn reduces the likelihood of atherosclerotic deposits getting larger in blood vessels. This 1-2 punch can reduce the incidence of heart disease significantly.
5. Help To Control Blood Pressure
One striking feature of dates is that their sodium content is so low it can be considered negligible, while they contain more than enough potassium. We know that excessive sodium (salt) is a major contributing factor to high blood pressure, but potassium exerts a controlling effect, helping promote sodium excretion. As a result, since dates are rich in potassium but not sodium, it creates a scenario that promotes the excretion of sodium and excess water, regulating blood volume and blood pressure.
6. Preserve Healthy Intestinal Microbiome
The intestines are populated by a diverse population of micro-organisms, many of which are essential to our survival and health, and for breakdown and assimilation of nutrients. These micro-organisms can become suppressed for many reasons, ranging from disease to use of medication. We need to ensure these bacteria get sufficient nutrition, which dates capably supply. Dates contain soluble fiber which is converted into pre-biotic nutrition for these bacteria, in order for them to properly replicate and colonize the intestines. Supplying adequate nutrition also supports your immune system, which in turn will boost your natural resistance.
7. Preserve Bain Function In The Elderly
Degeneration of brain tissue is an accepted reality of aging, although it does not need to be the case. Many of these adverse changes are related to excessive inflammation, which can be slowed down if the effects of cortisol and other oxidants are controlled. Dates are known to be excellent buffers of cortisol, reducing the inflammatory influence of it. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have an inflammatory component which can be reduced if you control excessive inflammation in the body.
8. Reduce The Risk Of Developing Colon Cancer
Colon cancer’s development depends on several factors, such as inflammation, frequency of bowel movements and overall health of your intestinal flora. Dates have proven themselves to be beneficial on all these factors, promoting regularity, helping nourish your intestinal bacteria and decreasing the body’s inflammatory response. Colon polyp formation is reduced, which while benign, do have the potential of turning cancerous under the right conditions.
9. Support A Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time when caloric needs increase, along with nutritional requirements. Dates are relatively high in calories from carbohydrates, and are excellent sources of folic acid. Folic acid is necessary for prevention of neural tube defects and for proper development of the fetal brain. Consuming a few dates every day is an excellent way to offer prenatal support to your young.
10. Dates Improve Bone Health
There are plenty of foods that supply calcium, which dates have, but there are far fewer that supply Vitamin K, an important co-factor in blood clotting and necessary for proper bone mineralization. Dates also contain magnesium, another mineral that helps to reinforce the structural integrity of bone tissue.
11. Have Anti-Aging Effects
Aging is a normal process that cannot be stopped. However, this does not mean that you should let it run amok- or worse experience accelerated or early onset signs of aging, as dates offer great support. The carotenoid anti-oxidants contained within dates preserve skin health, and can acts as UV light reflectors, blocking the damage caused by the sun.
Anti-oxidants helps to prevent accelerated fraying of the ends of chromosomes, which is a major contributing factor to when the signs of aging really step in. these “telomeres” allow for regeneration of cells and protect the chromosome from damage.