Dates are not only natural candies that Mother Nature gave us; they provide a wide range of essential nutrients. Dates 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. Dates are a wonderful snack all by themselves. But make sure you eat them in moderation.
Dates Nutritional Value
According to the paper “The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future?” published in the “International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition” in 2003, dates contain:
- a high percentage of carbohydrate – from 44% to 88% of sugars, and from 6.4% to 11.5% of dietary fibre
- very little of fat (0.2-0.5
- 3-5.6% of protein
- B vitamins
There are at least 15 minerals in dates including potassium, boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium, and zinc. The percentage of each mineral in dried dates varies from 0.1 to 916 mg/100 g date depending on the type of mineral.
One date of average size has only 20 calories. Also, dates are naturally fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, and gluten-free.
10 Health Benefits of Dates
1. Great source of dietary fiber
Dates are rich in dietary fiber. They contain a water-soluble fiber known as pectin and insoluble fiber, cellulose. Pectin is a natural part of the human diet, but almost does not contribute to nutrition. Soluble fiber may help control diabetes by decreasing elevated blood glucose levels. The daily intake of pectin from fruits and vegetables can be estimated to be around 5g (assuming consumption of approximately 500g fruits and vegetables per day). Cellulose increased the rate at which food moves through the intestine. It prevents constipation because of its laxative effect. The American Cancer Society recommends that you consume 20-35 grams of dietary fiber a day. One serving of 5-10 dates can provide you with 15% of your dietary fiber daily intake.
2. Energy booster
Dates are a powerhouse of energy. A 50-gram serving of dates contains 37 grams of carbohydrates, making these dried fruits a powerhouse of energy. The energy mainly comes from naturally occurring sugars such as fructose, glucose, and sucrose, and is readily used by the body. Dates can boost your mood too!
3. One of the best sources of potassium
Dates are one of the best natural sources of potassium. Dates have more potassium than bananas! Potassium is an essential nutrient that plays a dramatic role in maintaining heart muscle contractions and nervous system healthy and balancing the body’s overall metabolism. You have to continually supply your body with this mineral. A high-potassium and low-sodium diet helps prevent high blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. A healthy adult should get about 4,700mg of potassium and no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day. A 100-gram serving of dates (depending on the date’s size, it could be from 5 to10 dates) has about 700mg of potassium, 15% of the Daily Value.
4. Rich in Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is present in every cell of your body. Wikipedia says, “ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the main source of energy in cells, must be bound to a magnesium ion in order to be biologically active. What is called ATP is often actually Mg-ATP. As such, magnesium plays a role in the stability of all polyphosphate compounds in the cells, including those associated with the synthesis of DNA and RNA. Over 300 enzymes require the presence of magnesium ions for their catalytic action.” A 100-gram serving of dates provides 14% of the suggested daily intake of magnesium.
5. Good in vitamins B
Dates contain a variety of B-group vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid. These vitamins have so many vital functions in the body that it’s impossible to mention in one paragraph. To make it short: B vitamins are responsible for brain function, carbohydrates and fatty acids metabolism, hemoglobin and red blood cells production, fetal development and more.
6. Rich in selenium
Dates are one of the best plant sources of selenium. A 1-cup serving of them provides with 4.4 mcg of selenium that have many health benefits.
- Good for thyroid health: Selenium plays a dramatic role in normal functioning of your thyroid gland. Selenium concentration is higher in the thyroid gland than in any other organ in the body. This essential mineral helps protect the thyroid against oxidative damage and regulate the production of thyroid hormones.
- May reduce the risk of certain cancers: In the paper “Selenium Exposure and Cancer Risk” published in 2016 in PubMed, it is stated that high serum/plasma selenium had the efficacy on cancer prevention.
- Increase testosterone production: Selenium boosts testosterone levels in men and improves sperm production and Libido may also be increased by selenium.
7. Good in iron and copper
One serving of dates provide with 1mg of iron, 8% of its Daily Value. Iron is an active part of haemoglobin, which is responsible for the transport and storage of oxygen, as well as the transfer of electrons. Dates also have a good amount of copper. Copper is responsible for the absorption and utilization of iron. Dietary copper and iron improve red blood cells and hemoglobin production.
8. Good in phosphorus
Phosphorus is responsible for production of phospholipids which are the main structural components of all cellular membranes. Phosphorus plays a major role in the structural framework of DNA and RNA. Living cells use phosphate to transport cellular energy with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), necessary for every cellular process that uses energy.
9. Good in zinc
Dates also contain zinc, 0.4mg in a 1-cup serving. Zinc is required for the function of over 300 enzymes. It plays a crucial role in the serotonin synthesis in the human body. And as we all know, serotonin is one of four hormones of happiness. Zinc and selenium have been scientifically proven to prevent depression and anxiety.
10. Meet Your Daily Fruit Requirement
Five to ten dates (depending of their size) will help you meet your daily fruit requirement. It is usually recommended for an average adult to have two cups of fruit per day to maintain good health. We are talking about fresh fruit. But dried fruits are significantly higher in calories and nutrients, smaller servings of them count toward more of your daily intake: a 1/2 cup serving of dried fruit counts as 1 cup of fresh fruit. If you are on a 2,000-calorie diet, you can consume 2 cups of fresh fruit or the equivalent in canned, frozen or dried fruit to fulfill your daily recommendations.