Dates health benefits and nutritional values has made it so significant in the health world yet the fact remains that it is a flowering plant and species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from the Fertile Crescent region straddling between Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The species is widely cultivated across Northern Africa, Middle East and South Asia, and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.
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.
Dates also provide other wide range of Health Benefits and essential nutritional values, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the remainder consists of protein, fiber, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. The glycemic index for three different varieties of dates are 35.5 (khalas), 49.7 (barhi), and 30.5 (bo ma’an).
The caffeic acid glycoside 3-O-caffeoylshikimic acid (also known as dactylifric acid) and its isomers, are enzymic browning substrates found in dates.
Dates Nutritional Values.
- Dates Nutritional values composes antioxidant flavonoids such as ß-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants found to have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals. Thus, eating dates found to offer some protection from colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
- Zeaxanthin is an important dietary carotenoid that selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. It thus offers protection against age-related macular degeneration, especially in the older adults.
- Dates are excellent source of iron, carry 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
- Further, they are excellent sources of potassium. 100 g contains 696 mg or 16% of daily recommended levels of this electrolyte. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. They, thus, offer protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.
- Date fruits are also rich in minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse conduction. The human body uses manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper required for the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is essential for bone growth.
See below for an indepth analysis of the nutritional values of Dates (Phoenix dactylifera), medjool.Nutritive Value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base) Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA Energy 277 Kcal 14% Carbohydrates 74.97 g 58% Protein 1.81 g 3% Total Fat 0.15 g <1% Cholesterol 0 mg 0% Dietary Fiber 6.7 g 18% Vitamins Folates 15 µg 4% Niacin 1.610 mg 10% Pantothenic acid 0.805 mg 16% Pyridoxine 0.249 mg 19% Riboflavin 0.060 mg 4.5% Thiamin 0.050 mg 4% Vitamin A 149 IU 5% Vitamin C 0 mg 0% Vitamin K 2.7 µg 2% Electrolytes Sodium 1 mg 0% Potassium 696 mg 16% Minerals Calcium 64 mg 6.5% Copper 0.362 mg 40% Iron 0.90 mg 11% Magnesium 54 mg 13% Manganese 0.296 mg 13% Phosphorus 62 mg 9% Zinc 0.44 mg 4% Phyto-nutrients Carotene-ß 89 µg — Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg — Lutein-zeaxanthin 23 µg —
Dates Health Benefits.
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.
There are actually many different varieties of dates, with differing nutritional values and 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 the bad cholesterol LDL, and raise concentration of good HDL, even though they have a relatively high sugar level, 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.
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.
Promote Brain Health.
Laboratory studies have found dates to be helpful for 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.
Additionally, studies have shown dates to be helpful for reducing the activity of amyloid beta proteins, which can form plaques in the brain.
When plaques accumulate in the brain, they may disturb communication between brain cells, which can ultimately lead to brain cell death and Alzheimer’s diseases
The potential brain-boosting properties of dates have been attributed to their content of antioxidants known to reduce inflammation, including flavonoids.
Dates may be helpful for lowering inflammation and preventing plaques from forming in the brain, which is important for preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Promote Natural Labor
Dates have been studied for their potential to promote and ease late-term labor in pregnant women.
Eating these fruits throughout 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.
In one study, 69 women who consumed 6 dates per day for 4 weeks prior to their due date were 20% more likely to go into labor naturally and were in labor for significantly less time than those who did not eat them.
Another study of 154 pregnant women found that those who ate dates were much less likely to be induced compared to those who did not.
A third study found similar results in 91 pregnant women who consumed 70–76 grams of dates daily starting the 37th week of pregnancy. They were in active labor for an average of 4 fewer hours than those who did not eat dates,
Although eating dates appears to help promote labor and reduce labor duration, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
The role dates may have in pregnancy is likely due to 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,
Additionally, dates contain tannins, which are compounds that have been shown to help facilitate contractions. They are also a good source of natural sugar and calories, which are necessary to maintain energy levels during labor.
Treat Intestinal Disorders.
The nicotine content in dates is thought to be beneficial for curing many kinds of intestinal disorders. Continuous intake helps inhibit the growth of the pathological organisms and thus, they help stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines. In terms of digestive issues, they contain insoluble and soluble fibers, as well as many beneficial amino acids which can stimulate the digestion of food and make them more efficient, meaning that more nutrients will be absorbed by the digestive tract and enter your body for proper usage.
Dates have a high mineral content, which is beneficial for many different health conditions but their impressive levels of iron make them a perfect dietary supplement for people suffering from anemia. The high level of iron in dates balances out the inherent lack of iron in anemic patients, increasing energy and strength while decreasing feelings of fatigue and sluggishness.
Dates are high in natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Therefore, they are the perfect snack for an immediate burst of energy. Many people around the world eat dates for a quick afternoon snack when they are feeling lethargic or sluggish. Often when you exercise in a gym, outside or even on a stretching machine at home, you feel exhausted. Chewing few dates at such times helps you regain your energy immediately.
Nervous System Health.
The vitamins present in dates make it an ideal boost to nervous system health and functionality. Potassium is one of the prime ingredients in promoting a healthy and responsive nervous system, and it also improves the speed and alertness of brain activity. Therefore, they are a wonderful food source for people as they age and their nervous system becomes sluggish or unsupported, as well as for people who want to keep their mind sharp.
Promote Weight Gain
Dates should be included as a part of a healthy diet. They consist of sugar, proteins, and many essential vitamins. If dates are consumed with cucumber paste, you can keep your weight at a normal, balanced level, rather than over-slimming. One kilogram of dates contains almost 3,000 calories, and the calories in them are sufficient to meet the daily requirements for a human body.