Dates are a naturally dehydrated fruit that dates back over 5,000 years. Medjool is the most popular variety, but other varieties you may find in specialty food markets include Dayri, Halawy, Thoory, and Zahidi.
If you’ve been on a date kick, tossing them into smoothies, topping over salad, stirring them into your morning bowl of oatmeal, or just snacking on them—here’s what may happen to your body if you have too much. Read on, and for more on healthy eating, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
May help reduce your risk for heart disease.
Dates provide soluble fiber, which can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Soluble fiber binds with the LDL cholesterol which prevents it from being absorbed into your blood. In turn, this helps prevent cholesterol’s fatty deposits from building up on your artery walls (known as atherosclerosis) and helps reduce your risk for heart disease.
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May help lower the risk of cancer.
Dates also contain powerful antioxidants including carotenoids, polyphenols, and anthocyanins. Eating a diet high in antioxidants has been associated with a reduced risk for chronic diseases such as cancer. In addition, a 2014 published study found that dates may help decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
May help lower the risk of diabetes.
Soluble fiber has many benefits, including helping to control blood sugar levels. In addition, the phytonutrients found in dates may play a role in helping control and even improve the disease. According to a 2014 published paper on the therapeutic effects of date fruits, various components found in dates including flavonoids, phenols, and saponines may play a role in controlling diabetes though the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood. A 2013 study on flavonoid compounds from dates showed improvements in diabetic rats. To lower your risk of this chronic disease, in addition to adding dates to your diet, check out these 10 Best Ways to Cut Your Diabetes Risk, According to Doctors.
Can help close nutrient gaps.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there are four nutrients that Americans across all ages and life cycles under consume. These four nutrients include fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. Four dates (about 100 grams) provides 27% of the daily recommended amount of fiber and 20% the daily recommended amount of potassium. Eating a few too many dates provides an excellent source of the two under-consumed nutrients which helps close this nutrient gap.
Can help fight bacteria.
Dates and the elements that are present within the fruit have been shown to help control infection. One 2012 study showed that extract from the leaves and pits inhibits the growth of several types of microorganisms. Another 2010 study found that the extract from the pits helps inhibit the growth of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. As folks don’t eat the leaves and pits of dates, more research is certainly needed.
You may put on a few pounds.
Four dates (about 100 grams) provides a whopping 277 calories. If you’re going to pop those sweet babies in throughout the day, you can surely go over your daily calorie limit. This can ultimately lead to weight gain. How much weight you can gain is really up to how many dates you’re munching on. That qualifies dates as one of the 10 Healthy Foods You’re Overeating.