From strengthening the nervous system to promoting heart and eye health, dates have an array of proven benefits. Instead of limiting your consumption of the sacred fruit to Ramadan, try eating them throughout the year
1. Helps you feel full
Dates are fruits rich in soluble dietary fibers, especially pectin. So how does this prolong satiety? Well, these fibers, which attract water, increase the fluidity of stomach content, therefore prolonging the time it spends in the stomach and provides a feeling of fullness, Cerit said. By including food high in fiber, such as dates in your iftars and sahurs and overall diet, as well as support this fiber intake by consuming plenty of water, you will have greater control over your appetite and be fuller for longer, she added.
2. Supports immunity
Studies show that dates can have a stimulating effect on the immune system. This effect of dates is associated with their beta-glucan content, which is a polysaccharide, the better and more complex type of carbohydrates doctors advise we should consume. In addition, dates also contain high amounts of phenolic compounds and carotenoids (both which have great cancer-fighting properties) as well as vitamins, all of which are thought to play a role in supporting the immune system thanks to their antimicrobial effects and antioxidant properties.
3. Sugar cravings no more
After prolonged periods of hunger or fasting, our body directs us toward sources with high carbohydrates, namely sweet foods, so that our blood sugar can rapidly return to its normal levels and replace those empty food stores.
“However, to prevent weight gain and avoid irregularities related to blood sugar, using the natural sugar content of fruits (instead of artificial sweets) to meet our needs for something sweet. With their distinctive flavor and rich sweetness, dates can be a good choice for all your dessert needs,” Cerit said.
4. Constipation relief
Foods such as dates with high dietary fiber should have an important part in a healthy diet. To keep everything running smoothly, dieticians recommend consuming at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Studies have shown that upping your dietary fiber intake increases stool volume and shortens its intestinal transit time, thereby helping prevent dreaded constipation. In Ramadan, you might as well take advantage of the rich fiber content of dates to aid digestion and prevent consideration, which is a frequent and unfortunate side effect of reduced food and water consumption during this period.
5. Good for the heart
Dates are known as an excellent source of potassium, an essential mineral responsible for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Potassium is involved in ensuring neural conduction, regulating our pulse and blood pressure. Research reveals that a diet rich in potassium helps to lower blood pressure, maintain cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of stroke.
6. Protect against eye diseases
Dates also contain compounds that help stop age-related eye diseases from developing. Studies have shown that dates are a strong source of zeaxanthin and lutein, which are types of carotenoids present in eye tissue and have antioxidant properties. Therefore, these compounds are thought to be useful in preventing the development of cataract and macular degeneration (macula: the central part of the retina) in elderly individuals.
7. Nervous system and energy
Dates, which contain moderate levels of B1, vitamin B2 and niacin (B3), as well as vitamin B6, help us meet our daily vitamin B needs. The aforementioned B vitamins are involved in metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins and fats, i.e. getting energy from these nutrients. They also play an important role in the healthy functioning of the nervous system. When you are running low on these vitamins, you will most likely complain about fluctuating and decreased energy levels, weakness, fatigue and concentration problems. This is all the more important when you are fasting when brain fog is a real challenge.
8. Key for strong bones
When it comes to bone health, the first mineral that comes to mind is calcium. Cerit said calcium absorption is just as important as its intake.
Calcium and phosphorus are two minerals that work together to protect bone health and their absorption increases when taken together. Consuming dates, which contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc as well as phosphorus, daily helps us improve our bone health and prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, Cerit said.