The health benefits of dates are numerous. It has a low glycemic index, has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.
Dates are tropical fruits that grow on palm trees called date palms. Their scientific name is Phoenix Dactylifera and they belong to the Aceraceae family. Dates are dry fruit that is healthful and delicious.
Dates are also a significant part of many Middle Eastern countries’ cultural history. The name date comes from the Greek word Gaktulos, which means “fingers” in English and refers to the fruit’s unusual shape. They are well-known for their high natural sugar content.
When comparing dried dates to fresh ones, it’s worth noting that dried dates have a higher calorie content. Dates are gathered in bunches and they grow in clusters. It’s nearly a staple diet for Muslims all over the world, and it’s one of the most significant opening fruits throughout Ramadan.
This is owing to the fruit’s high vitamin content, which makes it an excellent choice. There are among 200 varieties of dates among which Medjool dates are the most common.
Among all the dates, Ajwa dates are believed to be the most beneficial.
The health benefits of Ajwa dates have been mentioned in hadith, Saud (R.A) narrated that I heard Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “If someone takes seven Ajwa dates in the morning, neither magic nor poison would harm him that day.”
Nutritional Value of Dates:
The nutrition composition of 100g dates according to USDA. [Ref]
Antioxidants Found in Dates Fruit (Khajoor)
Dates are loaded with antioxidants. Besides phytochemicals, dates contain micronutrients such as potassium, calcium, and zinc which have a substantial role in body functions. They also contain essential amino acids arginine and histidine. The phytochemicals present in dates are:
- Phenolic acids: These include caffeic acid, cinnamic acid derivatives, protocatechuic acid, and vanillic acid. All of these are involved in the prevention of cell damage
- Flavonoids: The main flavonols found in dates are anthocyanins. Proanthocyanins and glycosides
- Dates also contain tannins, terpenoids, and carotenoids
Health Benefits of Dates Fruit (Khajoor)
Dates have been a part of medicinal fruits for decades. They have been used in the treatment of many disease conditions. Here we will discuss some of the amazing health benefits of dates.
Memory Enhancing Properties and Brain Health:
- Dates have been used as an herbal remedy to enhance memory. Consumption of 3-4 dates daily is associated with strengthening memory in Palestine. While in turkey “Hurma Tea” which includes dates in it, is known to build up memory.
- In one study, the effect of date consumption was examined. The study concluded that the phenolic compounds found in date fruit help protect the brain from oxidative damage. They offer promising therapeutic potential against Alzheimer’s disease. Date fruit consumption for up to 12 months resulted in a decreased level of inflammatory cytokines. [Ref]
Dates reduce the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the body
Health benefits of Dates in pregnancy and labor:
- Studies have suggested that dates might help inducing natural labor during pregnancy. Many researches have demonstrated that date fruit can be used as a factor to promote normal delivery and minimize the incidence of cesarean sections in order to avoid the serious difficulties that come with them.
- Date fruit produces a lot of energy and gives many calories that’s why it can benefit pregnant women during birth and may prevent physical weakness after birth. It includes fatty acids that can form prostaglandins, which play a vital role in labor induction cervix ripening, delivery progress acceleration, and increases uterine contractions. [Ref]
- In one study, women who ate six dates a day for four weeks before their due date were 20% more likely to be in labor naturally and struggled for much less time than those who did not. [Ref]
Dates play a role in natural labor
Health benefits of Dates: Anti-cancer Properties:
- The alteration in normal gene function is the most common cause of tumor formation and cancer. Research suggests that phytochemicals found in date fruits have anti-cancer properties.
- According to one study, the components of dates have an important role in inhibiting phase I enzymes like CYP-450 and increasing phase II enzyme activity. Date pits’ have the ability to scavenge alkyl radicals, reduce the aromatase activity of cytochrome P-450 and prevent mutations. [Ref]
- Another study on animal models demonstrated that glucans fount in date fruits exhibit anti-cancer activity in a dose-dependent manner. A dosage of 1mg/kg has shown tumor-suppressing action. [Ref]
- Another study evaluated the effect of Ajwa date extract on prostate cancer cells, the results showed a strong inhibitory effect of Ajwa date extract on PC3 cells. It also caused apoptosis in cancer cells.[Ref]
Anti-microbial activity of dates:
- Certain chemical extracts from date fruit have exhibited anti-microbial effects. Antibiotics are currently used to treat bacterial infections and diseases, but they are costly and have negative side effects. Natural substances and their constituents are a useful method to prevent infection since they are economical, effective, and have no adverse effects.
- Phoenix dactylifera and its contents have a substantial impact on bacterial disease prevention and therapy.
- One study suggested that acetone and methanol extracts from date pits effectively inhibited the growth of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. [Ref]
- Another recent study found that date extract has antibacterial properties against Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli. [Ref]
Dates have antibiotics-like properties
Anti-diabetic effect of Dates (Khajoor)
- Dates have a low glycemic index, which means they do not increase blood glucose levels after they are ingested. They also play role in blood glucose regulation.
- One study concludes that dates have a low glycemic index even when eaten alone or in a mixed meal with plain yogurt. Date consumption may help diabetic individuals maintain better glycemic and lipid control. The glycemic index appears to be minimally affected by the use of dates in mixed meals with yogurt. [Ref]
Dates have a low glycemic index
Anti-hyperlipidemic and hepatoprotective role:
- Many studies have shown the ameliorative effects of dates on hyperlipidemia and fatty liver. One study suggests that Ajwa date extract has a protective role against liver cancer the study results showed that, Ajwa extract-treated cancer cells, had high levels of reactive oxygen species. It caused apoptosis in cancer cells without affecting normal cells. [Ref]
Dates for Weight loss:
- Dates have a low glycemic index. This means that if you replace refined sugar with dates or dates extract, as a sweetener in your food, it has little effect on the plasma blood glucose. However, dates are very nutritious fruits. If you take an excess of it, it can rather cause weight gain.
- Dates have not been studied as a weight-loss food, however, eating less than three dates may be helpful in reducing cravings for sweets and sugars.
Healthy Ways of Eating Dates
Dates are nutritious and healthy in every way. Some of the healthy ways include:
- Dates and almonds as an early morning snack
- Banana and date fruit smoothie
- Dates added in yogurt
- Figs and dates in oatmeal
- Date, caramel, and peanut butter sauce with bran bread