health benefits of date fruits

Date Fruits: Must Know Health Benefits of Dates

Dates are fruits obtained from date palm trees that are grown in various tropical regions of the world. One of the reasons why dates have become popular in recent times is the wide use of it during the Ramadan season.

It is known from the Islamic scripture and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed that one should break his fast with dates (or water) and this practice has become common as many Muslims abide by this teaching /tradition during the month of Ramadan. 

Since Muslims use the date fruit to break their fast, there should be some particular characteristics that make it suitable for that purpose. We are therefore going to explore the various health importance or benefits of taking the date fruit.

The health importance of dates include the following:

1. Dates fruits contain a lot of nutrients

The fruits of dates are known to be very nutritious and contain a number of important nutrients required by the body. In fact, it is considered one of the healthiest dry fruits in the world. Because it is a dry fruit, the majority of its weight is due to its essential nutrients.

Some of the nutrients contained in dates include potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, vitamin B6, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, etc.

For every 100 grams of dates fruits (about 4 date fruits), here is the list of individual amounts of nutrients that you get.

NUTRIENTSAMOUNT/100g
Carbohydrates75g
Fiber7g
Protein2g
Potassium20% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Copper18% of RDI
Magnesium54mg (14% of RDI)
Manganese0.296mg (15% of RDI)
Iron0.9mg (5% of RDI)
Vitamin B60.249mg (12% of RDI)
Calories277
Calcium64mg
Zinc0.44mg
Thiamin0.05mg
Folate15ug
Vitamin A149IU

2. Restore energy quickly

Dates are high in sugar (fructose, glucose) and calories (unit of energy) as seen in the table above. After a long period of fast, it is expected that the sugar level of blood will be low, as such, getting a readily available source of energy is helpful to avoid any unwanted effects of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) due to the fast. Because of its high-caloric content, it also decreases the sensation of hunger thus helping to avoid overeating.

3. Help prevent constipation

Dates are known to contain very high amounts of fibers. Fibers are not digestible by humans, so when so much of it gets into the intestine, it stays within the tract and draws water into the tract.

When more water is drawn into the intestine it leads to bowel evacuation. This, therefore, helps to prevent constipation.

Did you know that bananas could also be equally effective in preventing constipation?

4. Help prevent cancers and other diseases caused by free radicals

Dates are known to also contain lots of antioxidants. A number of oxidative processes contribute to the formation of cancerous cells and hence to prevent cancers, you need agents that will prevent these oxidative processes.

Antioxidants are agents that prevent oxidative processes by inhibiting the production of free radicals which are the main culprits. Antioxidants also work by combining with free radicals to change their form and make them non-cancerous.

Some of the chemical constituents of dates that possess antioxidant activity include:

  • Flavonoids
  • Carotenoids
  • Phenolic acids

5. Contribute to improvement in brain function

Neurodegenerative diseases affecting the brain, like Alzheimer’s disease, are caused by high levels of some inflammatory mediators.

One particular inflammatory mediator, interleukin 6 is known to contribute to the development of neurodegenerative disorders when in high concentrations.

Some investigations have provided evidence that dates are helpful in reducing the levels of interleukin 6. This means that the consumption of dates reduces the risk of developing such conditions.

Also, dates have been found to reduce the activity of amyloid-beta proteins which can form plaques in the brain and disturb communication in the brain.

6. Good blood glucose or sugar control

Dates have high levels of fiber and fibers have a very low glycemic index. What this means is that they have a very low tendency to increase the blood sugar level of individuals who take it.

It is therefore a good fruit for people living with diabetes. Also, the presence of antioxidants is good for people living with diabetes.

7. Provide good bone health

Dates contain certain nutrients like phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These powerful nutrients have been studied and found to prevent bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis.

8. Help prevent or treat inflammation

Several disease conditions affecting most people are due to various inflammatory processes. Compounds like the flavonoids and phenols in dates can contribute to the reduction in such inflammatory conditions.

Extracts derived from dates have also been found to possess potent anti-inflammatory activities. For instance, it was found that methanolic extracts from the date fruits reduce swelling that occurs in the feet and controls plasma fibrinogen. 

9. Can improve fertility in males

There are a lot of vitamins and minerals in dates that can improve or increase sperm count and also increase the sexual libido in males.

The presence of various amino acids and flavonoids in the fruits of dates also contributes to boosting the sexual performance of males. Microelements like sterols can help improve fertility in males. 

10. Good for people with hypertension

Dates contain a lot of potassium but very little amount of sodium. People living with hypertension are advised to decrease their intake of sodium because sodium can lead to fluid accumulation in the body. Such fluid accumulation will contribute to an increase in blood pressure and worsen hypertension.

Hence, taking foods with little to no sodium is recommended. Potassium on the other hand is very essential to such people. In most cases where sodium is being retained in the body, potassium will be removed from the body. But low levels of potassium can be very detrimental to the body. It can cause heart and muscle issues and hence adequate replenishment from the dates fruits is encouraged. 

11. Reduces the rate of hair loss

Dates contain a good amount of iron. This iron is used in building oxygen-carrying cells in the body. As such, it helps with the good circulation of oxygen around the body. The scalp, therefore, receives a very good supply of oxygen and this helps the hair to grow faster and longer.

This is possible because there is also good nourishment of the scalp and it also prevents the falling off of hair.

You may also be interested in how coconut oil helps in hair growth and protects the scalp.

WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:

Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

Chief Editor at Wapomu.com

MPSGH, MRPharmS, MPhil.

Isaiah Amoo is a practicing community pharmacist in good standing with the Pharmacy Council of Ghana who has meaningful experience in academia and industrial pharmacy. He is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, England, UK and currently pursuing his overseas pharmacy assessment programme (MSc) at Aston University, UK. He had his MPhil degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He has about 5 years’ experience as a community Pharmacist and has also taught in academic institutions like KNUST, Kumasi Technical University, Royal Ann College of Health, and G-Health Consult. He likes to spend time reading medical research articles and loves sharing his knowledge with others.

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