Dates are a well-loved natural snack that offers a number of health benefits. Enjoyed in small servings of six or eight, dates are a favourite treat to enjoy alone or can be equally delicious when used as part of a recipe. A popular snack at Ramadan, dates are a sweet treat for breaking your fast and the Prophet himself was said to have broken his daily fast with three dates and water, leading to dates becoming a regular tradition in Muslim households across the world. Often included in food packages for their many nutrients and benefits, you can give dates too as part of your Sadaqah donation to help those living in poverty.
Packed With Nutrients
Dates contain plenty of nutrients that we need to live a healthy lifestyle and dried dates contain similar calorie numbers to other tasty dried fruits like figs and raisins. Dates are also high in fibre and full of healthy antioxidants, ideal for supporting your balanced diet.
Antioxidants are recognised for their many health benefits and in dates, you can find flavonoids, thought to reduce inflammation and the risk of diabetes, carotenoids, said to promote a healthy heart and reduce eye conditions and phenolic acid, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Fibre is a key part of a balanced diet and only 100g of dates can provide 7g of fibre to support a healthy lifestyle. Not only contributing to a healthy gut, helping with digestion and preventing constipation, but fibre is also important for the control of blood sugars, slowing digestion and preventing high spikes in blood sugar levels after eating.
Benefits to Healthy Brains
The brain is one of the most important organs in the body but can be susceptible to damage just like all our other organs if we don’t take care of it. Fortunately, dates contain a number of brain-boosting vitamins including choline, known for improving memory and learning ability and the aforementioned antioxidants which have shown to reduce inflammatory markers in the brain. High levels of inflammatory markers are linked to neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s.
Natural Sweetness in a Small Treat
As a tasty and nutritious source of fructose, a natural sugar that is found in fruits, dates can be easily used to swap out white sugars in recipes using a 1:1 ratio of sugar to replacement date paste, a mixture made from dates and water. Not only is this reducing refined sugar intake but dates offer plenty more nutritional benefits over white sugar, although are still considered high in calories so keep this in mind when swapping out sugar for dates.
Dates for Strong and Healthy Bones
As we age our bones naturally weaken and this can lead to painful conditions, particularly in post-menopausal women who are suffering bone loss from osteopenia. To help with bone strength we need to include certain vitamins and minerals in our diet including manganese, copper, and magnesium, all of which can be found in high levels in dates and are a key part of ensuring we have strong bones and a healthy skeleton. Dates are also a high source of potassium, with as much as 140mg per date, and calcium, both of which can help reduce bone mass loss and reduce the risk of bone-related conditions including osteoporosis.
Contributing to a Healthy Delivery
Another benefit of dates is the contribution to a healthy labour delivery in pregnant women. Although studies are still being carried out, research has shown that pregnant women who included dates in their diet for the last four weeks of pregnancy needed fewer inductions and had an improved delivery process when compared to a group of pregnant women who ate no dates.
With all these benefits to be enjoyed from this delightful sweet treat, will you be incorporating dates into your balanced diet?