What would happen if I eat dry dates daily?

  • Dry dates are a great healthy sweet since they provide the body with some nutrients that need to be taken daily because they are not stored or synthesized in the body.
  • Dry dates are a source of dietary fibers required for your digestive system’s health. 
  • Dry dates can keep you full for a long time.
  • You can enjoy dry dates in different recipes, but also they are perfect to use as a snack. 

Dried dates are popular as a healthy sweet in the Middle East. They are most popular in Ramadan, The holy month of fasting, because they are very nutritious and can keep away hunger and thirst for quite a long time. This is not the only reason why dates make a great snack. Consuming dates every day has a lot of benefits.

What are dry dates?

Dates are a fruit that is rich in vitamins and nutritional fibers. They grow in desert areas and come in different colors and tastes. The top date-producing countries include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Algeria.

Dates are dried to store for a long time. Drying is to remove most of the water content of the fruit. In the past, people used to dry dates in the sun. This operation took 2-3 weeks. However, it is still practiced in some areas. Nowadays, there are several industrial ways to dry dates in a much shorter time, including oven drying.

Why should I eat dry dates daily? 

Dry dates have a high content of carbohydrates, mainly fructose and glucose. Although it is low in protein and fats, it contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, and nutritional fibers. Dates are rich in the vitamin B complex. They have good amounts of selenium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. Some of these micronutrients are not stored in the body and must be ingested daily. Therefore daily intake of dates provides the body with its needs and maintains good health. 

 

Vitamin B complex

This is a group of vitamins vital to the body. Vitamin B complex is water-soluble, which can not be produced or stored in our bodies. They need to be utilized daily from fruits and vegetables except for vitamin B12, mainly red meat. Vitamin B6, B9, B2, and B3 are present in moderate amounts in dates. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) helps your body grow and make red blood cells. Vitamin B3 (Niacin) increases good blood fat (HDL) and helps your brain function. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) supports immunity, heart, and brain health. Your body needs vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) for making new cells.

 

Vitamin C

Dry dates are not very rich in vitamin C but still contain more than other dry fruit. Vitamin C is also a water-soluble vitamin that is needed daily. It is crucial for the health of skin, cartilage, blood vessels, and bones for immunity and wound healing.

 

Dry dates to prevent iron deficiency anemia

Dry dates are a great source of iron that is easily absorbed and utilized by the body with the help of vitamin C. It helps prevent iron deficiency anemia. Compared to iron supplements, it is cheaper and doesn’t cause constipation due to its content of dietary fibers.

 

Dietary fibers 

A hundred grams of dry dates provide 35% of the daily need for fibers. Most of the fiber in dates is insoluble. They induce satiety and improve the function of the digestive system by enhancing its motility and treating both constipation and diarrhea. Ingestion of fibers reduces the risk of colon cancer and diverticular disease.

 

Dry dates as a healthy sweetener

Dry dates can replace sugar in sweets. It constitutes a healthy treat because of its high content of sugar. However, the sugar in dates is a mix of glucose and fructose. Glucose is the usual composition of most store-bought sweets. Fructose is fruit sugar. It is twice as sweet as glucose with an equal calorie count. It means that you can get the same level of sweetness with less calorie intake.

How many dry dates should I eat a day?

The serving size of dates is a quarter cup. It equals about 40 grams or five dates. It contains about 120 calories. 

How to add dates to your diet?

There are a lot of ways you can enjoy dried dates. You can soak dates in water overnight and eat them on an empty stomach in the morning and drink their water as well. Add dates to a granola mix. Use date paste (Ajwa) as a filling for cupcakes. Dates can also be used as a sugar substitute in cakes, smoothies, and cookies. Eat a few dates 30 minutes before a workout as an energy source. They can be eaten as a nighttime snack, as it keeps you full for a while due to their high content of fibers. You can stuff them with nuts and enjoy them as a snack alone or with coffee. Dry dates have several recipes and can be enjoyed just as it is. 

 

How to soften dry dates?

There are several ways to soften dry dates. You can dip them in hot water till they are soft. Soaking in 45°C for 6 hours or 30°C for 8 hours was proven to preserve the nutritional value of dates. There are other ways to soften dry dates, though. You can soak them in boiling water, covered for 10 minutes. You can also spray them with water and spread them in the microwave for 10-second intervals until they are soft. It can take a minute or so. You can steam them for 5 minutes as well.

How to store dry dates?

To store dried dates, keep them in air-tight containers on the shelf or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months and the freezer for one year. 

Overall, dried dates can provide your body with nutrients that require daily supply. Make it a habit to keep some dates in your bag to consume as a healthy snack whenever you need them.

Summary

Dry dates provide your body with essential nutrients like vitamin B complex and fiber, which are part of a nutritious diet. They constitute an excellent snack for everyday use since they do not go bad fast. Additionally, dates keep you full for a while, and most of all, they are sweet.

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION:

  • HDL: It is also called good cholesterol. It takes the cholesterol to the liver to be removed from the body, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. 
  • Dietary Fibers: They are parts of plant food, our digestive system can not digest or absorb. However, they are vital for our health since they lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels and they promote the health of the digestive tract.
Written by:
Nancy Elrefaey, MS, MBBS
Ophthalmologist
Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian

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