If you are craving dates during pregnancy, you'll be delighted to know that these luscious fruits can provide plenty of nutrients to support your baby's growth as well as components that boost your own health. Pregnant women unfamiliar with dates might find this to be the perfect time to sample them. These healthy fruits can help fend off common pregnancy complications, such as anemia and constipation, and contribute to a nutritious pregnancy diet.
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Dates have been cultivated for over 6000 years, making them one of the oldest of all cultivated fruits. While hundreds of varieties are available worldwide, only 12 are usually sold in the United States. Soft dates have a high moisture content and high level of sweetness, while semi-dry dates are chewier and less sweet. True dry dates are not generally eaten alone but are sometimes used in baked goods. Dates can be used in cooked dishes or eaten on their own.
Pregnant women need to eat about 300 calories per day more than their non-pregnant peers to gain the weight needed to support pregnancy. Instead of choosing high-calorie foods that are low in nutrients, pregnant women should choose nutrient-dense foods, such as dates, that provide plenty of vitamins and minerals along with the calories they need. While getting the recommended daily allowance of all vitamins and minerals is important during pregnancy, nutrients of particular concern for fetal and maternal health include calcium, folate and iron.
Nutrients in Dates
One nutrient-dense medjool date -- a sweet type of date that is popular for its soft, tender flesh -- has about 66 calories. Eating a few in one sitting could make a healthy snack or dessert during pregnancy. Dates are high in potassium, which helps you maintain the electrolyte balance in your body as your blood volume expands during pregnancy. Dates also contain calcium that helps support fetal bone growth and iron that prevents anemia and keeps you from becoming overly fatigued. Dates also supply niacin, folate, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, zinc, manganese and magnesium.
Fiber in a pregnancy diet is often overlooked, but maintaining adequate fiber intake can help prevent common pregnancy complications such as constipation and hemorrhoids. A high-fiber diet in early pregnancy can reduce the risk of preeclampsia toward the end of the pregnancy, according to a study in the August 2008 issue of the "American Journal of Hypertension."