10 Health Benefits of Dates
The health benefits of dates couldn't be sweeter!
When’s the last time you had a really great date? No, not the romantic type—the delicious stone fruit from the palm family. If it’s been a while, it’s time for a meet-cute in the produce aisle.
“Dates are such a healing food for your body,” says registered dietitian Kimberly Nanninga, RD, who points to the many health benefits of dates. “They are nutrient-rich, and high in fiber, iron and antioxidants that have been shown to help support your body in so many ways. I absolutely love dates!”
The next time you’re craving something sweet, skip the candy and opt for dates instead. They’re just as sweet as the artificial stuff and good for you, too.
Dates Nutrition Facts
A 3.5-ounce serving of Medjool dates provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 277
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 75 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Potassium: 15% DV
- Magnesium: 13% DV
- Manganese: 13% DV
- Iron: 5% DV
- Copper: 40% DV
- Vitamin B6: 15% DV
For health and healing, Nanninga suggests eating four to six dates a day. Unless weight loss is a goal, you don’t need to worry about the sugar content. “The sugar you get from dates is in its whole form, accompanied with fiber, protein and so many minerals,” she says.
While you can eat them whole, there’s a lot you can do with dates. Nanninga says to try blending them into a smoothie for natural sweetness, chopping and adding them to salads, enjoying with a dip of healthy nut butter or making them into a paste and spreading on apples or celery sticks.
The Health Benefits of Dates
Dates are a natural treat and a delicious source of fiber, with high concentrations of potassium and vitamin A, among other vitamins and minerals. Here are the best reasons to add dates to your shopping cart ASAP.
1. Boost Energy
Whether you’re an athlete or just like to keep active, dates are a great idea. Why? “Because the potassium and fruit sugar is perfect for refueling the brain and muscles as you power through exercise,” says Nanninga. If you need a quick burst of energy midday, instead of going for a second cup of coffee, grab a handful of dates. If you don’t like them plain, whip up some energy balls or oatmeal bars packed with dates to fight the midday slump.
2. Strengthen Bones
Most people know that getting enough sunlight and foods with vitamin D is vital for bone health, but the combination of minerals like magnesium and copper packed into dates make them a superfood for strengthening bones too. Whether you are looking to fight off existing osteoporosis or bulk up your bones as a preventative measure, dates could help. These cranberry date bars are perfect for making on Sunday and snacking on all week long.
3. Promote Heart Health
Consistently making heart-healthy dinners is one way to help your ticker, but dates are high in potassium, which is essential to keeping your heart in tip-top shape too.
4. Reduce Inflammation
Magnesium is a mineral known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and you can definitely get your share of it in dates. A study with over 3,700 participants showed that a diet rich in magnesium was associated with a lower concentration of markers of inflammation in post-menopausal women. Turmeric can also help reduce inflammation.
5. Improve Sleep
Craving a little extra shut-eye? “Dates help your body to produce melatonin, which in turn helps your sleep quality,” says Nanninga. Dates are also high in fiber, which takes time to digest and can keep you feeling full throughout the night. She suggests eating one date two hours before bedtime.
6. Offset Anemia
If you’re iron-deficient, dates are a great way to help you get back on track. A single serving contains about 1 mg of the necessary mineral. Give these chocolate date energy balls a try for an iron-rich snack.
7. Encourage Weight Gain
If you struggle to put on pounds, dates are a healthy way to increase your body weight. While they’re packed with nutrients, they’re also packed with calories. A serving of four dates clocks in just shy of 270 calories.
8. Induce Calm
Feeling stressed? Suffering from panic attacks? “Dates are a calming and healing food because they are so nutrient rich, high in fiber, and are naturally sweet without any added sugar,” says Nanninga. She adds that studies have shown that dates can help lower inflammation in the brain and can help with the health of your nervous system.
9. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
If you’re the type of person who can never get enough sugar, dates are a great alternative to unhealthy treats. Keep a pack on hand to help curb your cravings for cookies, candies and other sweet stuff.
10. Lower Cholesterol
If you’re looking for a way to bring your cholesterol down, dates are good source of soluble fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol as part of a healthy diet. These foods can lower cholesterol naturally too.
Next, learn all about the health benefits of honey.