Dates are chewy fruits with a sweet flavor that have a lot of benefits to physical health. Learn more about dates here!
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
Benefits & Side Effects of Eating Dates
Dates are stone fruits that have a single seed, like peaches and mangoes. This article will go over everything there is to know about dates, including their many health benefits and any potential side effects of eating this delicious fruit.
Nutritional Value of Dates
Dates can be consumed fresh or dried. The dried varieties tend to have more concentrated levels of naturally occurring sugars such as fructose and glucose. Here is a chart listing the many nutrients contained in dates per 100 grams:1
|Pantothenic acid||0.805 mg||16%|
|Vitamin A||149 IU||5%|
|Vitamin K||2.7 µg||2%|
Types of Dates
Most dates are grown in the Middle East, while California supplies the majority of dates consumed in North America. Dates come from the date palm, which is a flowering plant. There are several varieties of dates to choose from:
- Deglet Noor. Delicate flavored and semi-dry.
- Zahidi. Semi-dry date that is sweet and sugary-flavored.
- Thoory. Dry date that is sweet and nutty flavored.
- Halawy. Soft date that is honey-flavored.
- Barhi. Syrupy and rich date.
- Dayri. Sweet-flavored soft date.
- Medjool. Rich, sweet date with a fibrous texture.
Health Benefits of Dates
Dates have been enjoyed throughout history for their taste and their health benefits. Studies on dates indicate they might help the body in several ways:
Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to protect cells in the body from damage by neutralizing free radicals. Dates are a good source of antioxidants, including the following:
- Carotenoids. Carotenoids provide health benefits in decreasing disease risk, particularly certain cancers and eye diseases.
- Phenolics. Phenolics are linked to a decreased rate of chronic diseases.
Helps Promote Brain Health
A study on Alzheimer’s disease found that dates are rich in fiber and natural antioxidants. These compounds are neuroprotective (protect nerve cells against damage). They also had a beneficial effect in lowering, delaying the onset, or slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)2.
Dates may provide possible protection against inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. These fruits have promising therapeutic potential against AD and help contribute to the prevention of several age-related diseases3.
Dates are a tasty fruit often used to replace sugary snacks for those with a sweet tooth, helping to decrease the consumption of refined sugar. Dates can be a sugar replacement in 3 ways:
- Date sugar: dehydrated dates ground into a sugar-like consistency
- Raw dates: added to desserts, snacks, and treats
- Date syrup. In place of granulated sugar at a rate of 2/3 cup for every cup of sugar
Even though dates are 70% sugar, they have a low glycemic index. Studies on dates indicate a low to moderate consumption of dates did not impact glucose levels (Blood glucose levels of 126 mg/dl or higher is considered diabetes)4.
High in Fiber
Dates contain nearly 8 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fruit. Fiber is the part of dates and other foods such as beans, fruits, nuts, and vegetables that the body can’t break down. It simply passes through the stool, helping to keep the digestive system running smoothly.
Fiber is essential because it can help decrease the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which could cause heart attacks or strokes. Test subjects showed that dates helped lower total cholesterol levels while elevating their good (HDL) cholesterol levels4.
In another study, researchers concluded the consumption of dates helped reduce the colon cancer risk of test subjects without inducing harmful changes in the gut microbiota5.
Side Effects of Dates
While dates are known to have many health benefits, their consumption could be harmful in some individuals. Here are a few potential side effects to be aware of:
Dates are high in sugar and carbohydrates, and eating excessively could lead to weight gain. Therefore, if you’re trying to lose weight, limit your consumption of dates (especially dried dates).
Even though no conclusive studies link dates to asthma or asthma attacks, people with asthma may want to limit their intake of dates. Some people with asthma are allergic to mold, commonly found in dried fruits.
Dates themselves won’t cause abdominal issues, but many dried dates consumed today contain sulfites, an additive used to eliminate harmful bacteria and preserve them. Individuals who are sensitive to sulfites could experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, or stomach pain.
People who are allergic to pollen or grass could be susceptible to date allergies. Although rare, common allergy symptoms to dates include the following:
- Watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
Mold or sulfites (as previously described) may affect dried dates also. Sneezing or vomiting are the most common allergy symptoms for dried dates.
Potential Benefits of Dates for Men
Dates have health benefits specifically for men. Here are a few ways the consumption of dates can impact men’s health:
May Increase Libido
Libido is the mental and emotional desire for sexual activity. Men can see a reduction in libido for various reasons, but dates can help increase libido. This is because dates contain essential amino acids such as nitric oxide, which we can only get through diet. Nitric oxide helps increase the circulation and oxygenation of the blood, which can help improve natural energy, stamina, and possibly libido.
May Help Fertility
Few studies have been conducted on dates and male fertility. However, preliminary research indicates that the date palm’s pollen, pit powder, and gemmule extract created positive changes in male hormone levels.
These hormones have a role in male fertility, increased sperm motility, sperm quality, and weights of testes. Researchers believe these characteristics positively affect the prevention (and treatment) of male infertility6.
How Many Dates to Eat Per Day?
For best results, many suggest eating 100 grams of dates daily. This equals about a handful or 1/2 a cup. The exact amounts consumed can vary from person to person, depending on their caloric needs or health condition.
- Only 1 in 10 adults meet the federal recommendations for fruit or vegetable consumption, 1 ½ to 2 cups per day. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity7-8.
Dates are a fruit that people around the world have enjoyed for centuries. Dates come in several varieties and can be eaten fresh or dried. They are packed with nutrients and have many health benefits, including high fiber content, improved brain health, and increased energy/libido in men.
Consider adding a handful of dates into your diet to reap the many benefits discussed above. Consult with a doctor or nutritionist if looking to incorporate dates into your diet.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended to share knowledge and information. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD, for the accuracy of the information provided, but we encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
- Properties and Benefits of Dates.https://www.natureword.com/tag/date-nutrition-table/
- Selvaraju Subash, Musthafa Mohamed Essa, Nady Braidy, (et al). Diet Rich In Date Palm Fruits Improves Memory, Learning And Reduces Beta Amyloid In Transgenic Mouse Model Of Alzheimer’s Disease. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2015 Apr-Jun; 6(2): 111–120. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.159073 [PMCID: PMC4484046]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4484046/
- Musthafa Mohamed Essa, Ph.D., Mohammed Akbar, and Mohammed Abdul Sattar Khan. Beneficial Effects Of Date Palm Fruits On Neurodegenerative Diseases. Neural Regen Res. 2016 Jul; 11(7): 1071–1072. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.187032. [PMCID: PMC4994443].https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4994443/
- Tariq A Alalwan, Simone Perna, Qaher A Mandeel, (et al). Effects of Daily Low-Dose Date Consumption on Glycemic Control, Lipid Profile, and Quality of Life in Adults with Pre- and Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. 2020 Jan 15;12(1):217. doi: 10.3390/nu12010217. [PMID: 31952131].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31952131/
- Noura Eid 1, Hristina Osmanova 1, Cecile Natchez, (et al). Impact Of Palm Date Consumption On Microbiota Growth And Large Intestinal Health: A Randomised, Controlled, Cross-Over, Human Intervention Study. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1226-36. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515002780. [PMID: 26428278].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26428278/
- Tuğba Tatar 1, Yasemin Akdevelioğlu. Effect of Pollen, Pit Powder, and Gemmule Extract of Date Palm on Male Infertility: A Systematic Review. 2018 Feb;37(2):154-160. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2017.1364183. Epub 2017 Oct 31. [PMID: 29087245].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29087245/
- Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables
- Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html