Medjool Dates: Are There Health Benefits?

Native to Morocco, Medjool dates are just one of hundreds of varieties of dates, but they’re the only one known as “the fruit of kings.” With a sweet, caramel taste and chewy texture, Medjool dates were originally eaten by royalty and thought to fend off fatigue.

Medjool dates are now grown in warm climates globally, and research shows these ancient energy-boosting claims may be true. They’re also high in vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to other health benefits.   

Dates are available at most supermarkets and are easy to include in your diet. They're great as a snack and their natural sweetness makes them a good substitute for sugar in the kitchen.

Nutrition Information

A serving of 2 Medjool dates contains: 

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

Medjool dates are a good source of: 

Medjool dates are also an excellent source of phytonutrients, plant compounds that may have health benefits. Studies have shown they can stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage, and improve hormone regulation

Potential Health Benefits of Medjool Dates

Medjool dates are a great way to sweeten up your diet while adding vitamins and minerals. 

Sweet snacks often have little nutritional value and are loaded with “empty calories” from sugar and fat. But Medjool dates’ high fiber content helps you to feel fuller for longer, which can aid in weight management goals.

Medjool dates are still high in calories, however, so too many can be a bad thing.

Research has found that Medjool dates can offer additional health benefits:  

Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Medjool dates’ soluble fiber content lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol. Fiber binds with this cholesterol and prevents its absorption into your bloodstream. This keeps cholesterol’s fatty deposits from building up in your arteries, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

Studies have shown that soluble fiber may also help control blood sugar levels and reduce blood pressure. 

Research has found that the antioxidants in Medjool dates may reduce triglycerides, a fat found in your blood. High levels of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease.  

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Digestive Function

Medjool dates also contain insoluble fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion. Eating enough insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation and inflammation in the digestive tract

One study also found that insoluble fiber may help prevent colorectal cancer, but more research is needed.  

Nervous System Support

By weight, Medjool dates contain 50% more potassium than bananas. This essential mineral helps control heart rate, breathing, and muscular function. This benefit is particularly important because potassium deficiency is common — less than 2% of Americans meet the daily recommended value

Low levels of potassium can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, and irregular or weakened heartbeat. Medjool dates can help you increase the potassium in your diet, supporting these nervous system functions. 

Improved Metabolism

The B vitamins in Medjool dates like pantothenic acid, folate, and niacin help manage the metabolic processes that convert food to energy. Research shows this can help to fight tiredness and fatigue. 

Studies have also shown that dates may reduce sugar absorption in our bodies. This can help lower blood sugar levels, which can aid in weight management and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Potential Risks of Medjool Dates

The high levels of some nutrients in Medjool dates may cause problems for people with certain health conditions. Talk to your doctor to make sure that Medjool dates are a good addition to your diet.

Some potential health risks of Medjool dates include: 

Weight Gain

The fiber and nutrients in Medjool dates can help with weight management, but portion control is important. They are high in calories and should be consumed in moderation to avoid unwanted weight gain. 

Kidney Problems

Medjool dates are an excellent source of potassium, which is lacking in most people’s diets. Because potassium is processed in our kidneys, people with kidney disease should follow their doctor’s advice regarding how much potassium they should consume.

Allergies

Dried fruits often contain sulfites that act as a preservative and eliminate harmful bacteria. If you experience stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, or skin rash after eating dried fruits, you may have an allergy or sensitivity to sulfites and should avoid eating Medjool dates. 

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Asthma

Sulfites in dried fruits may also worsen symptoms like wheezing for people with asthma. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 25, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology. “Sulfite Sensitivity.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Medjool Date.”

Harvard Medical School. “Fiber.”

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 Agricultural and Food Chemistry. “Effects of date (Phoenix dactylifera L., Medjool or Hallawi Variety) consumption by healthy subjects on serum glucose and lipid levels and on serum oxidative status: a pilot study.”

Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. “Phytonutrients as therapeutic agents.”

Mayo Clinic. “Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”

Nutrients. “Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease.”

Nutrients. “Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesity.”

Oregon State University. “Potassium.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer and incident and recurrent adenoma in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Sodium and potassium intakes among US adults: NHANES 2003–2008.”

The Journal of International Medical Research. “The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Energy Metabolism and Well-Being.”

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