Originating from the Middle East, dates are very high-energy fruits, rich in vitamins and minerals. They contain in substantial amounts vitamins like Vitamin C, B1, and B2 and essential minerals like potassium, zinc, and magnesium.

Dried or fresh, dates offer an important nutritional value and many health benefits that you should be taking advantage of. Here is everything you need to know about the benefits of dates, their origins, and their consumption.

What are dates

Dates are edible fruits of the date palm. Contrary to popular belief, the date palm is a tree but a cultivar– the variety of a plant species obtained artificially for cultivation. 

These oblong, fleshy fruits are between four and six centimeters long and contain a nucleus, also elongated. They should not be confused with jujube, the fruit of the common jujube tree, which is sometimes nicknamed “Chinese date”. They are indeed two different fruits.

On a purely botanical level, the date is a berry. It is originally from the Mediterranean rim, and more particularly from the countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East. Tunisia is the leading date exporter of dates, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, and Algeria. 

Nutritional Value of Dates

Dates are very energetic, with 64.7% carbohydrates. They are also rich in dietary fibers and lipids, including saturated fatty acids, as well as poly and monounsaturated. 

They are also rich in water as well as in micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins, among which we find B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B9. They also contain a fair amount of antioxidant vitamins like vitamins C and E.

In terms of minerals, potassium is found in dates in very large amounts. Added to this are copper, iron, manganese, and magnesium. 

In smaller amounts, dates contain phosphorus, calcium, selenium, sodium, zinc, and iodine. 

Rich in protein, dates also contain antioxidants such as carotenoids and phenolic compounds.

Protein1,81 g1,0 ,g
Carbohydrates64,7 g16,9 g
– sugar64,7 g14,6 g
– starch0 g0,3 g
Dietary fiber7,3 g3 g
Lipids0,25 g0,5 g
– cholesterol0 mg0,1 mg
– saturates0,075 g0,2 g
– monounsaturated fatty acids0,1 g0,1 g
– of which polyunsaturated fatty acids0,021 g0,1 g
Water22,9 g77 g

The health benefits of dates

Prevent cardiovascular diseases

The date is not just a tasty fruit imbued with exotic flavors. It is also a fruit with powerful and beneficial nutritional properties for our body. This fruit contains good fatty acids, some of which are essential for our health. 

Consuming dates also helps reduce triglyceride levels in the blood. As such, dates can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular pathologies.

Dates also contain significant amounts of magnesium. This mineral is essential for limiting the risk of stroke. 

1.      Prevent cardiovascular diseases

Dates don’t just lower blood cholesterol levels. They contain elements that are very effective in the regulation of blood pressure, among which we find potassium. The latter helps to balance the electrolytes in the body. 

But the main advantage of dates is that they combine a significant amount of potassium and magnesium in a single bite. This helps to promote blood pressure control easily while having fun. 

Be careful not to overdo it, and to alternate their consumption with other sources of potassium and magnesium. You have to make sure you keep a balanced diet.

2.      An ideal fruit against fatigue

Dates are a real concentrate of nutrients and vitamins. They are therefore ideal for combating fatigue, but also for strengthening the immune system

The consumption of dates at the approach of winter allows you to better prepare your body for possible external aggressions. And thus, to better prevent winter ailments. 

In addition, the concentration of antioxidants present in dates allows us to benefit from their health benefits, and in particular in the context of the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cellular aging, and cancer.

In addition, the energy contribution that dates provide is very valuable for athletes. Its carbohydrate intake makes it a considerable source of energy for the body, which is required for long and/or intense efforts. 

Its consumption can also help reduce post-workout fatigue and optimize the recovery period following workouts and other strenuous efforts.

3.      An excellent source of dietary fiber

The benefits of dates are partly linked to the presence of fibers in their composition. Dietary fiber is beneficial for the digestive process, and for combating various gastrointestinal disorders. As such, they are ideal for preventing and relieving cases of constipation, but also diarrhea. 

What you should also know about fiber is that it is an excellent way to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. It reduces the glycemic load of meals and is a very effective solution to prevent hyperglycemia.

Consuming fiber also helps ensure a long-lasting feeling of fullness after meals or snacks, which helps with weight loss.

Finally, fibers are also useful for trapping lipid molecules, and cholesterol. They thus reduce cardiovascular risk by regulating cholesterol, but also by providing a considerable cholesterol-lowering effect.

4.      Improve brain function

Clinical studies on the effects of dates show that dates help reduce markers of inflammation in the brain system. These are IL-6 markers, which often promote the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. 

Dates help reduce them and therefore reduce inflammation in the brain system. 

The antioxidants in dates are also of great value for your brain. They also help improve memorization and learning skills, which in turn improves brain function.

5.      Strengthen your bones with dates

Dates contain trace elements and mineral salts that are valuable for bone health. Among them are different elements that our bones need, such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, and manganese. 

These nutrients help maintain bone health, and therefore prevent problems and diseases that affect them, such as osteoporosis. Dates are one solution among many others to ensure a sufficient intake of minerals and vitamins.

On the other hand, the strengthening of bones through diet is essential with age. Fruits and vegetables are great for maintaining bone health, even as time flies.

6.      Reduce the pain and fatigue of childbirth

If pregnant women are also fond of dates, it is not only for their deliciously fruity taste. This is also for their ability to reduce pain and fatigue during childbirth

According to popular beliefs and the first clinical trials in the field, this fruit would help reduce pain associated with childbirth. Dates would also allow better management after childbirth, which makes it a partner of choice for young mothers!

Note that dates provide a lot of useful nutrients to meet the nutritional needs of pregnant women and their babies. Indeed, they are rich in iron, which ensures ideal intakes for future mothers. 

Finally, on top of all this, dates improve the quality of breast milk. The components of these small fruits participate in providing the infant with optimal nutritional contributions for its development.

How many dates can you eat per day?

Like other dried fruits, dates are high in carbohydrates. They, therefore, provide a significant dose of sugar, which you must be cautious of. However, their consumption is not reserved for athletes with high energy needs. You simply need to consume them in reasonable proportions, and not abuse them; three dried dates per day are sufficient. 

Moreover, dates are an ideal solution for sweetening yogurt or replacing a dessert at the end of a meal.

Are fresh dates better than dried dates?

Dates are mostly eaten dry. They then contain less water than fresh dates, but as much fiber and sugar (more if we go by weight ratio).

However, Fresh dates contain a high concentration of antioxidants, mainly carotenoids and phenolic compounds. Dried dates contain less of these than fresh dates since a certain amount is lost during dehydration.

Contraindications and undesirable effects

Reasonable consumption of dates does not cause any side effects or any particular concerns. However, if consumed in excess, they can cause mild digestive problems such as diarrhea. 

Additionally, people who are fructose intolerant should limit their intake of very sweet dates and fruits. Eaten in moderation, as we have shown, dates help prevent the risk of diarrhea and bloating, among other digestive discomforts.

Last words

Dates are ideal for restoring the body’s energy reserve, but also for preserving our health. Particularly interesting for pregnant, they provide fiber, carbohydrates, and many other components essential to maintaining good health. 

However, they should be consumed in moderation, due to their high glycemic index and high sugar content. Limit yourself to between 25 and 30 grams of dates per day to take full advantage of their benefits!

Betsy Wilson

Betsy is a true science nerd, down to the glasses. Her words, not mine! She works as a nurse specializing in pediatric nursing. She holds a Master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about all thing pregnancy and baby-related.