Grown in the Middle East and North Africa, the medjool date and ajwa dates are two of the most common dates found on American grocery store shelves.
Dates are widely produced and are wonderfully rich sources of fiber and phenolic antioxidants.1 But these fruits aren’t just sweet and tasty — they’re also beginning to show a variety of health benefits.
Here are just a few of the benefits of dates:
1. Blood Pressure
The vast majority of health benefits associated with dates come from their rich nutritional content. Take potassium, for instance: A recent study has shown that higher intake of dietary potassium can support healthy blood pressure — and that the kidneys excrete more water and salt when potassium levels are high.
In essence, the study authors compare a high potassium diet to a diuretic. Potassium’s high electrolyte content may also mean it could lower risk of high blood pressure which is associated with several different heart health issues.2
2. Digestive Support
Now, the potassium from dates also plays a pretty important role in digestive health and may even help settle the stomach. But when it comes to digestive health, the most important benefit a date can have is its high fiber content.
When you combine regular amounts of fiber with fluid intake, it helps lower the risk of issues like diarrhea and constipation by helping food move smoothly through the digestive tract. Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should eat around 30 to 38 grams a day. Eating dates as a snack is a great way to help you reach this daily goal.3,4
3. Heart Health
The potassium in dates can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure — and it’s no surprise that an elevated blood pressure level can be associated with a variety of health conditions.
However, dates are also scientifically proven to help lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. Similar to high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol is a major factor in many heart issues. This makes dates a great part of a multi-pronged strategy to support your heart health.5
4. Bone Health
Yes, the phosphorus and calcium in dates might even be able to help when it comes to your bone health. You see, 85% of your body’s phosphorus is in your bones and teeth — and dates are high in both phosphorus and calcium.6 A 100-gram serving of medjool dates contains 64 milligrams of calcium and 62 milligrams of phosphorus. (Not too shabby, right?)7
SAR (seasonal allergic rhinitis), affects approximately 23 million people in the United States alone.8 One of the rarer nutrients that dates possess is organic sulfur. In one study, dates were shown to have positive effects on sufferers of allergic rhinitis.9 More evidence will need to be determined to see what degree of support dates provide, but the scarcity of organic sulfur in the diet means dates may have a surprising amount of applications as more information is uncovered.
6. Eye Health
Dates are a source of beta-carotene, which can be converted into the powerful antioxidant Vitamin A. This vitamin has been shown to support eye health in many ways — and may help protect against macular degeneration, slower cataract development, and stress in the retinas.10
If you’re looking for a perfect workout food, dates are a healthy pre-workout snack. They’re high in calories, which can give you a boost during your workout. However, unlike some of the alternatives on the market, dates are a low-glycemic food. This means that the “crash” isn’t nearly as prevalent as it is when you consume foods with added sugars.
8. Healthy Pregnancy
Your body can change so much during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women often require extra levels of iron in order to prevent anemia for both themselves and their babies. The amount of iron present in dates makes them a great snack option during pregnancy.
Also, studies have shown that women who eat dates during pregnancy may experience a smoother process when it comes to the enlarging of the uterus muscles. Believe it or not, this can help make childbirth a little bit easier.11 In addition, the other nutrients in dates might also help improve the quality of the mother’s milk.
9. Immune Support
The sheer volume of healthy nutrients in dates can also support a healthy immune system. In fact, studies have found potential antioxidant properties and antibacterial support from date fruit extracts.12
In The End…
Though the date may not be a “traditional” superfood like kale or chia seeds, research shows that adding this fruit to your meals can have a wide variety of health benefits.
So stay open-minded when it comes to incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet! It can pay off no matter what your health goals are – something to keep in mind the next time you head to the grocery store.
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