If you’re watching your sugar intake, you may have heard about dates as a natural sweetener and healthy sugar alternative. But there’s much more to dates than sweetness, they’re also a nutritional powerhouse. In fact, some of the many health benefits of dates include improving digestion and heart health — and that’s not all. Did you know that dates can also give your libido a big boost?
Dates for sexual health
Are dates sexy? I suppose it’s a matter of opinion. Can dates make you feel sexy? Definitely! Studies reveal that dates are beneficial for increasing sexual stamina. The science behind this is mostly due to traditional use, which spurred formal research. A 2006 study conducted by Shiraz University in Iran looked at the effects of date palms and their oil on sexual functioning.
Lead researcher, Dr. Soghra Bahmanpour, found that the high levels of estradiol and flavonoid components increased sperm count and motility. In addition, dates promote an increase in male testes size and weight.
Recipe for success
The traditional method includes soaking six dates in goat milk overnight and then grinding the mixture in a high-speed blender. You may add a pinch of cardamom and a teaspoon of honey. This tonic is said to increase sexual endurance and reduces sterility caused by various sexual disorders. Dates are thought to be a potent aphrodisiac for both men and women, increasing sexual arousal in both sexes.
Health benefits of dates
There are many health benefits of dates, thanks to their many vital nutrients. But since the fruit is small you would need to consume a larger quantity to maintain daily nutrients.
The following nutritional data is based on the USDA National Nutrient Database and outlines some of the key nutrients in dates. One serving is based on 100 grams, which is equivalent to about four dates. Keep in mind that dates are calorie dense, so 100 grams yields approximately 277 calories.
- Fiber — 6.7 grams, which is 27 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
- Potassium — 696 milligrams, which is 20 percent of the RDA.
- Copper — 0.4 milligrams, which is 18 percent of the RDA.
- Manganese — 0.3 milligrams, which is 15 percent of the RDA.
- Magnesium — 54 milligrams, which is 14 percent of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6 — 0.2 milligrams, which is 12 percent of the RDA.
There are even more benefits from consuming dates on a regular basis. Here are just a few of them:
Because of their whopping fiber content, dates are a natural and effective remedy for constipation. But did you know that the many health benefits of dates also include alleviating diarrhea? The high levels of soluble fiber and potassium also provide bulk to bowel movements — getting rid of the runs.
Eating dates regularly helps prevent the growth of pathogens in the digestive tract. They also boost the growth of beneficial bacteria. Additionally, the protein in dates contains 23 amino acids according to a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences. Amino acids stimulate digestion and elimination, keeping carcinogenic toxins moving on a pathway out of the body. Some of these amino acids are not even present in popular fruits like oranges, apples and bananas.
Boost heart health
Dates are loaded with potassium — just four dates provides an impressive 696 milligrams. Therefore, the health benefits of dates also work to support healthy blood pressure and protect against stroke. They also help reduce levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which contributes to cardiovascular disease.
Inflammation plays a vital role in development and progression of various diseases such as cancer, diabetes and others. Dates naturally suppress anti-inflammatory agents, as suggested by a study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Another important finding suggests that dates may play an important role in reducing foot swelling and even blood clots.
Studies suggest that dates have antioxidant activity. In fact, findings show that dates have the highest concentration of polyphenols among the dried fruits. Dates are a good source of antioxidants due to the carotenoids and phenolics. The antioxidant activity in dates plays an important role in absorbing and neutralizing free radicals, which lower cancer-associated mortality.
While dates play a role in anti-tumor activity, its exact mechanism of action and prevention of tumors is not known. What we do know, according to NCBI research, is that date compounds are involved in the process.
Dates for a healthy pregnancy and delivery
Dates contain a high percentage of carbohydrate, fat, salts, minerals, proteins and vitamins. So, researchers decided to study their effect on pregnant women. The study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at the consumption of dates on labor and delivery. Researchers chose 114 women who were 36 weeks pregnant and had no complications with their current or last pregnancy.
The first group of women were given dates and instructed to eat six pieces per day until the onset of labor pains. The second group of women were not given any dates and were asked to abstain from eating dates for the period of the study. Additionally, all of the women were the same age.
Women who ate dates had significantly higher cervical dilatation upon admission compared with the non-date eaters. They also had a significantly higher proportion of intact membranes. Spontaneous labor occurred in 96 percent of women who ate dates, compared with 79 percent women who did not.
In fact, the first stage of labor was shorter in women who consumed dates versus those who did not eat dates. The study concluded that the health benefits of dates — eaten during the last four weeks before labor — creates an easier delivery.
A healthier sweetener
Dates make a great natural sweetener and sugar substitute. While there are many varieties of dates available worldwide, the Medjool date is one of two of the most commercially produced varieties within the U.S. The other most commonly produced is the Deglet Noor date.
Medjools are larger, softer and sweeter. Medjool dates have a deep brown skin color and yield a caramel-like flavor. Once you eat one, you’ll soon discover they are higher in sugar compared to other fruit. In fact, dates are about 80 percent sugar and contain 63 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit.
But, dates are high in natural sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars are easily processed and utilized by the body for energy. One of the main reasons some people steer away from dates is because they believe dates will raise their blood sugar levels. But according to studies, that may be a misconception.
A study published in the Nutrition Journal set out to determine the glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy individuals. They also monitored the effects on individuals with type 2 diabetes.
The study showed that although dates contain high amounts of natural sugars, they are in fact a low-glycemic index food and did not significantly raise blood sugar levels after they were eaten. Dates are also full of fiber. And why is fiber so important when it comes to sugar consumption? Because fiber slows down the absorption of sugar to the liver, which helps to regulate insulin response.
Dates really are a superfood that offer many health benefits. So, if you’re looking for a great way to sweeten smoothies or even baked goods, naturally, consider dates. Additionally, if you need to “up” your sexual health, dates should be your fruit of choice.
— Katherine Marko