Dates: Health and Weight Loss Benefits

Dates have gained their popularity as a healthy alternative to sweets and candies. These fruits are consumed in kilograms by adherents of various diets. What exactly are the health benefits of dates? Can dates be used for weight loss, and what harm is caused to the body by excessive consumption of dates?

Dates for weight loss can only be used if you control your overall diet and take into account the proportion of calories that goes into the body with dates.

Health Benefits of Dates: Fiber

Dates are popular due to their nutritional value and health benefits. Dates are often added to dessert dishes instead of raisins – this way you can add an oriental flavor to the table. Dried whole dates can serve as a convenient and nutritious snack.

What are the health benefits of dates? First, each cup of chopped dried dates can meet nearly half of the human body’s daily fiber requirement: in addition to 11.8 grams of protein, one cup of these fruits contains 47% of the daily recommended dietary fiber. Dietary fiber not only helps our digestive system work, but it also lowers cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar levels.

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Health Benefits of Dates: Vitamins and Minerals

Another health benefit of dates is that they contain a variety of nutrients, including minerals such as magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese, as well as vitamins.

For B vitamins, each cup of dates provides:

  • 7% of the body’s daily need for folic acid,
  • 4.5% of the daily requirement for thiamine,
  • 5.7% – in riboflavin,
  • 9% – in niacin,
  • 8.6% – in vitamin B-5,
  • 12% of the daily requirement for vitamin B6.

The same amount of dates provides more than 8% of the body’s daily iron requirement.

Other healthy nutrients found in dates include:

  • calcium (5% of daily requirement),
  • magnesium (15%),
  • phosphorus (9%),
  • potassium (27%),
  • copper (15%),
  • manganese (19%),
  • selenium (6%),
  • vitamin K (5%). 

As you can see, almost the entire periodic table is in one fruit.

Antioxidant protection

Back in 2005, a study by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found dates to be high in phenolic antioxidants. Dried dates contain the highest amount of polyphenols of any dried fruit studied so far in this aspect. These trace minerals help provide the body’s antioxidant defenses against cancer and heart disease. While fresh fruit is prized for vitamins C and E, dates, figs and plums have superior concentrations of polyphenols, the study said. The report recommends adding dried fruits, including dates, and fresh fruit to your diet to balance nutrients.

Dates for weight loss

The basic principle of weight loss has always been very simple: the body must receive fewer calories than these calories are expended in the form of energy. No single meal helps or hinders your weight loss efforts, no amount of grapefruit will work wonders, and eating cheesecakes, sugars, or fats does not automatically lead to weight gain. Your weight reflects the total number of calories you consume, and your health reflects the quality of those calories. The same applies to dates – they can only be used for weight loss if you control your overall diet and take into account the proportion of calories that goes into the body with dates.

Dates are different. For example, deglet noor, which is grown in Algeria, contains approximately 20 calories and 4.5 g of sugar, including 1.4 g of fructose, per fruit. This means that a cup of chopped dates of this variety contains 415 calories and 93g of sugar. If you use this variety of dates for weight loss, then in a 1500 calorie diet, you will have approximately 1000 calories for all other foods. In comparison, a cup of chopped strawberries contains approximately 53 calories. That is, deglet noor dates contain almost eight times more calories than strawberries.

Another variety of dates – finger dates or medjul dates – is even richer in nutrients. One fruit of this variety contains 66 calories and almost 8g of fructose – this is five times more fructose than deglet noor dates. Using these dates for weight loss, you could eat several fruits a day for weight loss. By comparison, half a grapefruit, for example, contains about 40 calories. In general, eating high-fiber fruits promotes weight loss as they help fill your stomach faster and keep you feeling full for longer. Dates provide a reasonable amount of fiber, but their high sugar content adds extra calories. 

Dates: harm and contraindications

Could there be harm from dates? Yes, as with any product if consumed excessively. Too many dates can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes as these fruits have a high glycemic index. The glycemic index indicates the potential effect of food on blood sugar levels. That is, eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as dates, can lead to a sharp increase in blood sugar levels.

Dates can also be harmful to the body with fructose intolerance, because each cup of dates contains about 29g of this monosaccharide. Fructose intolerance or, in other words, fructose malabsorption syndrome means that your body is not able to properly digest fructose, and after consuming dates, you may experience gas, bloating and diarrhea. If you have ever had symptoms of this disease, you should try to avoid eating fruits, fruit juices, sugar, honey, and sugary foods in general, including dates.