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Here is why dates are the 'superfood' that you need to add to your diet

Updated on: 26 March,2023 06:08 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ainie Rizvi |

Dates are a delicious powerhouse of nutrition, packed with the right vitamins and calories serving as perfect energy boosters with zero fat

Here is why dates are the 'superfood' that you need to add to your diet

Dieticians recommend 7 dates a day to keep ailments at bay. Photo Courtesy: iStock

Dates are delicious powerhouses of nutrition, ideal for quick boost of energy. Packed with natural sugars such as fructose and glucose, only a 100grams of dates contain over 300 calories, offering a quick boost of energy. They are low in fat and protein but excellent sources of essential minerals like selenium, copper, potassium, and magnesium.

"Dates are also rich in vitamins, particularly B-complex and vitamin C and offer necessary antioxidants, including carotenoids and phenolics. Furthermore, the date seeds are more nutritious than the flesh and contain higher amounts of protein, fat, dietary fiber, phenolics, and antioxidants", says Ushakiran Sisodia, Registered Dietician and Clinical Nutritionist, Diet and Nutrition, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital.

Here are 6 health benefits of eating dates:

Dates are a powerhouse of nutrition: Packed with essential vitamins, minerals and fibers, dates qualify as the complete supplement of nutrition and a perfect replacement of your hunger pangs. Just a handful is enough to fuel up your daily requirement of calorie count and keep you free from binging on junk items.

Snehal Ghorpade, senior dietitian, Ruby hall clinic, Pune says that dates have excellent nutritional value and dry dates contain more calories than the fresh ones. She breaks down the nutritional value of dates for us: 

Nutritional composition of dates:
Energy: 24 kcals 
Carbohydrates: 6 gm 
Proteins: 0.2 gm
Fat: 0 gm
Fiber: 0.2 gm
Potassium: 5.3 mg
Magnesium: 3.4 mg
Iron: 0.1 mg
Folate: 1.52 mcg

Dates comprise of vitamin B, vitamin K, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Dates are also high in antioxidants which reduce the risk of many ailments like heart diseases, prostrate cancer, Type 2 Diabetes and eye lens degeneration. Thus, dates are one of the rare standalone foods that provide complete nutrition and helps in staying healthy when consumed daily.

Dates come in several delicious varieties. All of them classify as a superfood with numerous health benefits only differing in colour, texture and taste. Varieties of dates: Khuneji, Khalas, Khadrav, Medjool, Mazafati, Safari, Barhee, Omani. Snehal reveals that Omani is best variety of dates owing to its rich nutritional value.

Dates facilitate a healthy bowel movement
Endowed with high fiber content, dates help in aiding a smooth bowel movement in your body. For those suffering from constipation or irregular bowel movements, must know how it can destabilise the digestive system and mess with the energy levels. Dates offer a respite to this malaise by smooth formulation of stools. 

Studies have revealed that consuming 7 dates a day improved the digestive system and reduced ammonia concentration in the stools. Also, 7 dates make up for almost 40 per cent of the daily requirement for fiber in the body, which supports intestine’s function to breakdown food items and pass out the waste efficiently.

Dates protect against cancer
The pulp of Ajwa, an assortment of dates grown exclusively in Saudi Arabia, has been found to have anti-tumor potential in a recent study by National Institute of Health, USA. Rich in carotenoids, selenium, and flavonoids, it helps in fighting a multitude of cancer and other diseases. Snehal validates the study by confirming the antioxidating and anti-inflammatory properties of dates which help in cancer prevention. 

Another study has revealed that eating dates can help in preventing Pancreatic cancer, which qualifies as one of the most aggressive cancer and is extremely difficult to treat. Along with fighting against cancer, dates can also reduce the inflammation of liver. High in polyphenols, dates help in reducing inflammation in different organs of the body.

Dates lower the risk of heart diseases
Mejdool dates also known as ‘the king of fruits’, was consumed by the royalty and serves as ancient energy-boosting supplements. Snehal shares that with low sodium and high potassium content, these fruits are effective in reducing high blood pressure. Owing to the presence of high soluble fiber content, dates reduce the incidence of bad cholesterol. 

Fiber captures the cholesterol by binding it and keeping your bloodstreams clear from getting clogged. Thus, the arteries remain free of fatty deposits which ultimately lowers the risk of cardiac arrest and other heart diseases. Experiments with dates in diet revealed that it helps in controlling blood sugar levels which helps in reducing blood pressure problems.

Since dates contain natural sweeteners like fructose and glucose, it serves as a perfect substitute for sugar. One can munch on dates in a guilt-free manner when they crave sweets. However, it has to be consumed in check as it is high in calorie content. The presence of natural sugar along with fibers helps in the slow release of sugar which maintains low blood pressure and safeguards the health of your heart.

Dates enhance the functions of brain
Rich potassium content in dates enhances the smooth functioning of nervous system. Experts share that the presence of Interleukins poses a risk to the well-being of brain as it has inflammatory tendencies. If it increases, it can lead to the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, Interleukins are dangerous elements that pose a risk to neural health and require tender care.

Studies have found that a regular uptake of dates is beneficial in reducing the levels of Interleukins and thereby reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Dates have also been experimented on mice to observe the reduction of plaque which is a kind of cell death that damages the brain. Additionally, dates have proved to reduce anxiety and boost memory retention.

Dates help women in natural birth and menopause
When pregnant women consume dates daily, they increase their body’s natural resistance and are able to deliver their baby without undergoing the knife. Caesarean deliveries come with their own complications which pose a risk not only to the mothers but also the foetus. Studies have found that consuming dates closer to the days of delivery helps in reducing the pressure that a woman’s body undergoes while delivering a baby.

Alternatively, dates help in reducing the symptoms induced due to the onset of menopause. Women undergo bone-loss due to reduced intake of vitamins and minerals. Research reveals that consuming one dried date a day helps in refuelling potassium and other nutrients essential for retaining calcium and aiding the changes women go through post-menopause.

Also Read: Your guide to nutritious eating and weight loss during Ramadan

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