Belonging to the Phoenix dactylifera species, the fruit of the date palm tree has been used and cultivated in the Middle East for thousands of years. Known as a rich source of sugar and energy, other dates' nutrition benefits include a good source for minerals like magnesium and potassium.
Dates Nutrition Information
According to the USDA, a single, 7.1-gram date of the deglet noor variety offers 20 calories, 5.33 grams of carbohydrates and very little fat. One pitted medjool date is much larger, at 24 grams per date. Medjool dates' calorie count is 66 per date, with 18 grams of carbohydrates in each, almost three and a half times more carbohydrates than deglet noor date variety.
Medjool dates also offer 32 percent of the recommended daily dose of simple sugars, while deglet noor dates have 4.5 grams of sugars. A 200-calorie serving of medjool dates offers 96 percent of an individual's daily value for sugars, and 19 percent daily value of fiber. A diet rich in fiber keeps an individual satiated longer, helps control blood sugar levels, and helps to eliminate constipation.
As per the USDA, a single serving of dates also contains minerals like calcium, iron and zinc. Another important date nutrition fact is that there are 502.5 milligrams of potassium in a serving. The Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center explains that low amounts of potassium in the body can result in paralyzed muscles and irregular heartbeats, which can lead to death.
Dates are also high in magnesium, a mineral and electrolyte required for proper body functioning. A deficiency in magnesium may result in nausea, vomiting, or muscle cramps and seizures. Eating dates on a regular basis is an excellent way to add magnesium into the diet — a 200-calorie serving has approximately 39 milligrams, or 9 percent of the recommended daily dose of magnesium.
Benefits of Dates
In addition to their high mineral and energy content, another dates nutrition benefit is their antioxidant properties. Findings from a March, 2014 review published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine reveal the antioxidant properties of dates are due to the presence of phenolic compounds like flavonoids. Flavonoids help reduce the risk and spread of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Read more: Are Dates Good for Weight Loss?
Polyphenols are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties. According to a June, 2018 study published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, flavonoids have the potential to regulate inflammation responses in certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
Adding dates to your daily diet may also have an effect on the incidence of cancer. While the study mentioned in the March, 2014 review of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine was carried out on rats instead of humans, its findings are significant because of the potential effect the date palm fruit has on decreasing the progression of cancer.
Read more: Are Medjool Dates Healthy?
Even though most of dates' calories come from sugars, dates in moderation are not bad for patients with diabetes. In fact, according to a May, 2017 review published in Frontiers in Plant Science, a study conducted on rats showed that dates have the potential to reduce symptoms of diabetes, like nerve damage. However, larger trials are necessary before a definitive answer about date palm fruit's anti-tumor and anti-diabetic activity can be established.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United State of America: "Cross-Species Hybridization and the Origin of North African Date Palms"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Dates, Deglet Noor"
- MyFoodData.com: "Nutrition Facts for Medjool Dates”
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: “Potassium"
- International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine: "Therapeutic Effects of Date Fruits (Phoenix Dactylifera) in the Prevention of Diseases via Modulation of Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Tumor Activity”
- European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry: "Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Flavonoids in Neurodegenerative Disorders"
- Frontiers in Plant Science: "Date Palm Tree (Phoenix dactylifera L.): Natural Products and Therapeutic Options"