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Health Benefits of Eating Dates (Medjool, Pitted or Any Other Kind)

Healthy Dates

Both the expensive Medjool dates and the more popular Deglet Noor dates are rich in phenolics, selenium, copper, potassium and magnesium, and they contain fairly good amounts of manganese, iron, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6, too [1]. Given the broad nutritional profile of dates, it is not surprising that scientists have been keen to study health benefits associated with eating dates. Below, we explore some of the potential health benefits of dates, including protection against inflammatory conditions, antioxidant effects, benefits for pregnant women, constipation relief, cardioprotective effects, and benefits for cancer patients.

Dates Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties

An in vivo study published in the Polish Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences found that oral administration of date extracts reduced swelling and inflammation in rats with adjuvant-induced arthritis [2]. While this finding is certainly promising, it is important to keep in mind that this study was conducted in animals, not humans, and that further research is needed to explore the health benefits of dates in people with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

Dates Are Supercharged With Antioxidants

Dates contain exceptionally high levels of phenolics, which scientists believe might be linked to the fact that dates are exposed to more extreme temperatures and climates than other fruits [3, 4]. Phenolics are powerful antioxidants, and date extracts have been shown to exert strong antioxidant effects, both in test tubes and in humans [4, 5, 6 ]. Antioxidants in general, and polyphenols in particular, are thought to have all sorts of health benefits, including promoting longevity in general and providing protection against the development and progression of degenerative conditions like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases [7, 8].

Eating Dates Have Health Benefits for Pregnant Women

It is a common belief among pregnant women that dates can induce labor naturally and prevent complications during delivery, but also a couple of scientific studies have tied eating dates to benefits for pregnant women. A prospective study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that pregnant women who ate dates daily prior to their due date were more likely to go into labor without artificial induction than women who didn't eat dates. What's more, the mean latent phase of the first stage of labor was shorter in those who ate dates in the weeks leading up to labor compared with those who didn't eat them. [9] Another study found that cervical dilation was generally higher in women who consumed dates in the weeks leading up to labor, compared with those who didn't eat any dates. Cervical dilation or ripeness before the onset of labor is an important factor for the prediction of delivery mode, and a high level of cervical ripeness lowers the risk of a cesarean delivery. [10]

Constipation Relief Due to High Fiber Content

Whether you go for Medjool dates or regular Deglet Noor dates, you can be sure your body will get a good dose of fiber when you eat your dates. According to nutrition facts data provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Medjool dates provide 6.7 grams of fiber per 100 grams, and a 100-gram serving of Deglet Noor dates provides a whopping 8 grams of roughage [11]. Most of the fiber in dates in insoluble fiber [12] which is thought to help relieve constipation. The use of dates as a natural remedy for constipation is also supported by an animal study that linked date consumption to reduced gastric transit time [13] It is important to keep in mind, however, that chronic constipation can sometimes be a sign of a more serious digestive disease, so if you frequently suffer from constipation, or if it is accompanied with severe pain and/or bleeding, you should talk to you doctor.

Dates Have Several Earmarks of a Winning Heart-Healthy Food

The American Heart Association recommends eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dried fruits. They also recommend eating a diet rich in potassium and low in sodium for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Like many other fruits, dates are high in potassium and low in sodium. In addition, as we learned earlier, dates are loaded with antioxidants, and one of the most researched health benefits of antioxidants is their ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Given all that, it is not surprising that dates have been found to have anti-atherogenic properties [14, 15]. Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries which carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart.

Research on the Health Benefits of Dates Provides Hope for Cancer Patients

Beta-glucans isolated from date fruit extract have been shown to inhibit tumor growth in mice in some, but not all, cases. Because the results have been mixed and because large-scale clinical trials in cancer patients have not been performed, further research is needed before any definite conclusions can be drawn about the ability of dates to prevent cancer and its progression. However, some scientists believe the greatest potential of dates in the fight against cancer may lie not in the prevention of the disease but in the application of the proven antioxidant effects of dates to alleviate adverse effects of chemotherapeutic treatments. [4, 16]

Book Featuring Date Recipes
Cookbook Featuring Dried Dates If you want to avoid processed sugar and make sweet treats using alternative natural sweeteners like dates, check out the cookbook Ani's Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phuo, one of America's premier raw food chefs. Pecan Pie Cookies, Carob Fondue, Acai Cheezecake, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Strawberry Macaroons, Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes are just a few examples of the date-sweetened recipes you will find in this inspiring book. To learn more about this wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, processed sugar-free cookbook or to buy a copy, click here.