7 Health Benefits of Dates for Your Health and Brain
Oh, sweet, sweet dates. These ancient squishy palm tree fruits have been beloved by people in arid and tropical regions for at least 8,000 years. Like peaches and other stone fruit with a single central pit dates are considered a drupe, and are naturally very sweet and fleshy.
Historically, dates were considered a perfect fruit because of their high nutrient content. They travel well once dried, and provide a long-lasting energy burst that makes them great to have along on an adventure.
Dates contain 15 minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and selenium. They also contain 23 amino acids, and provide more protein than most other fruit. They even have trace amounts of polyunsaturated fat, which helps ease the blood glucose spike they can cause with their high sugar content. This high sugar content is also balanced by dates’ high fiber content. Here are some of the other health benefits of one of the oldest known fruits.
1. Colon and Digestive Health
Dates are very high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber helps keep the colon functioning optimally, by both moving waste matter and feeding beneficial intestinal bacteria. Fiber also binds with carcinogenic and toxic substances in the body and helps draw them out.
Dates are mildly laxative, which means eating them can help relieve constipation and ensure the bowels are always moving smoothly. To increase their constipation-relieving effects, soak the dates in filtered water overnight, and eat them in the morning along with the soak water.
The high potassium content of dates helps keeps the kidneys nourished. Dates contain nicotine, which in this form supports the health of the intestines by inhibiting the growth of pathological organisms. And the amino acids in dates stimulate more thorough and efficient digestion.
2. Healthy Labor and Delivery
In a study done on expectant mothers, it was found that eating dates in the last four weeks of their pregnancy made for an easier labor. The mothers were less likely to need induction, and experienced less pain and struggle. This might be because of the high mineral content balanced by fiber and micronutrients that inspire muscle relaxation and sustained energy.
3. Happy Brain
The vitamins and minerals in dates support brain performance. The B6 is especially important for maintaining mental functioning. The potassium supports the nervous system to function optimally, which means less brain-fogging stress and more energy available for thinking. The potassium also improves mental reaction time and processing speed.
4. I Can See Clearly Now…
What’s a sweet date without a little cheesy music? Seriously, dates (the fruit) are great for eye health. Anecdotally, dates are known to guard against night blindness. The B-vitamins and phytonutrients, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, support the retina in filtering light. They also protect the eyes from macular degeneration.
Dates are very high in both sugar and fiber. This provides an energy boost that is more sustainable and causes less blood sugar spiking than an energy drink or fruit juice. Dates are especially helpful for boosting energy and supercharging the metabolism after a workout or in the mid-afternoon.
Dates are high in iron, which helps with the production of red blood cells. Nourishing the blood with sufficient iron is necessary to prevent anemia.
6. Strong Bones
The rich mineral profile of dates, which includes manganese and copper in addition to the magnesium and selenium mentioned above, supports healthy bone and muscle development. Eating dates can help prevent osteoporosis and other degenerative bone diseases.
7. More Fun in the Bedroom
Dates are known as an aphrodisiac for their soft fleshy texture and sweet flavor. But they also help increase masculine virility and sexual functioning. Dates are high in plant compounds like estradiol and flavanoids that increase sperm count. They make a great finger food to help increase intimacy and set the mood, while also increasing the potential for sexual potency and enjoyment.
Humans have enjoyed dates since the beginning of recorded history. Dates were mentioned in the Judeo-Christian Bible, and have been cultivated in some part of the world since at least 6,000 BCE. They continue to hold a wealth of nutritional benefit for nearly all people, supporting the health of the brain, bones, eyes, and digestive system.
As they are quite high in sugar, it is a good idea to enjoy dates in moderation. One to four dates per day is plenty to receive the health benefits without messing with your blood sugar levels too much. Eat a solid meal that contains some protein and vegetables 45 minutes to an hour after eating the dates to help maintain more even blood sugar levels. And enjoy this ancient fruit as a part of your healthy lifestyle.