Dried Dates: Are They Good for You?

From trail mix to pastry centerpieces, dried dates have been a staple ingredient for thousands of years. Believed by some historians to be the oldest cultivated fruit, dates played an important role in several ancient empires and religions.

They’re especially important during the month of Ramadan, when people practicing Islam enjoy them after long days of fasting or to celebrate a month’s end feast known as Eid al-Fitr. To this day, dried dates remain common throughout the Middle East, where they are enjoyed during several holidays and everyday recipes.

While dates can be enjoyed fresh, many people prefer the rich flavor of their dried form. In addition to improving convenience and changing the taste and texture, the drying process increases levels of certain minerals.

Dried dates are available in several varieties, with flavors and nutrients differing based on where and how they’re grown. Well-known types of dried dates include medjool, zahidi, and deglet noor. They can be found in grocery stores and health food shops all around the world.

In addition to being used as food for 6,000 years, dried dates have been used as a remedy for the following:

While modern science shows support for a few of these traditional medicine claims, further research is needed. Despite the need for more research, dried dates remain a delicious snack that most people can safely enjoy in moderation.

Nutrition Information

Two dried dates contain: 

  • Calories: 110
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 31 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 27 grams

Dried dates are a good source of:

Dried dates are also rich in polyphenols. These compounds provide a wide variety of health benefits, such as better digestion, diabetes management, and even cancer prevention. While many dried fruits have high polyphenol content, dried dates are the richest source. 

Potential Health Benefits of Dried Dates

Dried dates are a great source of fiber and also include several important vitamins and minerals. However, these qualities can create complications for people with particular medical conditions. 

Research reveals several promising health outcomes for those who eat dried dates on a regular basis:

Continued

Pregnancy Benefits

Dried dates offer a variety of benefits for women in the later stages of pregnancy. Their high fiber content can help with constipation and other gastrointestinal problems that pregnant women often experience.

Additionally, dried dates have long been thought of as a top option for naturally inducing labor. Limited research suggests that eating dates in multiple forms may limit the need for medical inductions.

Increased Energy

Dried dates are rich in iron. Iron deficiencies are common, and many people who lack iron in their diet often experience fatigue. The combination of high iron content and carbohydrates found in dried dates can provide a helpful boost of energy.

Potential Risks of Dried Dates

Dried dates may contain high levels of polyphenols (antioxidants), minerals, and fiber, but these qualities can also be problematic for some people.

An additional concern is the high levels of sulfites (chemicals found in some foods) that dried dates contain. Some people are sensitive to sulfites and may suffer a variety of side effects as a result.

It’s important to consult with your doctor before eating dried dates as a health supplement. Consider the following before snacking on dried dates:

Allergies

Some people may experience an allergic reaction to date fruits. Additionally, the sulfites in dried dates can lead to allergic reactions for some people. Symptoms can vary, with many people experiencing skin rashes. Some people may suffer eye sensitivity, with itchy, watery, or red eyes or a runny nose after eating them. 

High Sugar Content

Dried dates have a high sugar content, especially in relation to the vitamins and minerals they provide. This is true of dates in all forms, but the process of drying further increases the sugar content. 

If blood sugar is a concern, you should stick with eating fresh dates in moderation, as research suggests these have a limited impact on glucose levels.

High in Calories

Just two dried dates contain 110 calories. This makes them a great option for energy-dense trail mix, but less ideal for losing weight. If you are looking to shed pounds for health reasons, try other types of dried fruits that are rich in nutrients, but lower in calories than dried dates.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 24, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Contact Dermatitis: “Sulfite contact allergy”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Dates, Medjool, Fancy, Dried, Trader Joe’s.”

European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “Allergy to date fruits: characterization of antigens and allergens of fruits of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.)

European Journal of Epidemiology: “Iron deficient, general health and fatigue: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.”

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-tumour activity.”

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology: “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery.”

Journal of the American College of Nutrition: “Dried fruits: excellent in vitro and in vivo antioxidants.” 

Nutrition Journal: “Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects.” 

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