Dates are the flowered fruit from the Arecaceae family of palm trees. Dates come with a great variety of colours, textures and sweetness to them. The Medjool Date is very popular and known to have higher ratios of vitamins and minerals; they’re soft and chewy with a rich caramel-like taste. This in contrast to the Deglet Nour date which is firmer and lighter in colour. Dates are a staple food within Middle Eastern cultures and are grown throughout Arabia and North Africa, but are they good enough to be a staple part of your diet? Read on for these Top 5 Health Benefits of Dates!
1. Natural sugar
100g of dates have around 63g of sugar in them! Yes, that’s a lot of sugar but it’s natural sugar and slow releasing in the body, meaning they’re classed as among low GI foods (Glycaemic Index refers to how quickly sugar is released from a food during digestion). It’s highly unlikely that you’d manage to eat 100g of dates in one sitting as they really are that sweet. Therefore, they can be used as the perfect decoy for sweets and chocolate throughout the day; so, when you feel a sugary-craving, have two or three dates instead of sweets to curb your cravings.
2. High in potassium
Potassium supports your body in regulating fluids, helping your heart contract and plays an essential role in regulating your blood pressure. Thus, adding potassium-rich foods such as dates to your diet can support a healthy circulatory system helping reduce your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease. 100g equates to approximately 18% of your daily recommended intake.
3. Plant source of pyridoxine
Pyridoxine, also known as vitamin B6, is an essential part of your diet as it helps in forming haemoglobin in your body. Haemoglobin is the carrier of oxygen in red blood cells that gets transported around your body. Meat and fish are the highest sources of B6, but it’s important to consume other sources if you’re vegan, vegetarian or cutting down on your meat consumption. Having a few dates as a sweet snack can help boost your B6 intake throughout the day.
4. Good source of fibre
Dates are a helpful source of dietary fibre; 100g contributing to around 32% of your recommended daily intake. Dietary fibre helps keep you fuller for longer and contributes to a healthy digestive system. These simple benefits can aid your weight loss, reducing the risk of, for example, bowel cancer. Adding these diminutive dates into your diet as a habit will assuredly yield you long-term health benefits.
5. Support healthy bones
Dates are great for bone health for two main reasons; they’re a source of magnesium and potassium. Your parathyroid glands produce hormones that aid bone health, the proper functioning of these glands is supported by magnesium of which dates are a very good source. Potassium is another supporter of your bone health, it reduces the losses of calcium in the body, meaning there are higher levels of calcium available to support healthy, mineral-dense bone mass.
Why not try using dates as a sweet snack throughout your day or try making some delicious date balls as in the video above? They’re delicious, packed full of vitamins and minerals, cheap and just a 30g equivalent of these little things count as one of your 5-a-day! Like a sweet date? Let us know by commenting below, joining in the conversation on Facebook and following us on Twitter and Instagram. (Check out these other Top 5’s to help you get and Keep YOUR Fit ON the GO!)