When we think of health foods, our minds automatically go to kale. Or broccoli. Or other green veggies. But there’s one powerful health food that we always forget about: Dates!
Dates are a sweet dried fruit of the date palm tree, and come in several different varieties—but no matter which kind you get, they’re delicious. And, perhaps surprisingly, super good for you, too.
You can eat dates on their own or use them as a sweetener for baking. No matter how you do it, experts say you should eat three dates per day for optimal health—and science proves it! Here’s how your world can change when you start to incorporate them into our diet daily:
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that people who consumed dates on a regular basis had less bouts of constipation and more regular bowel movements than those who didn’t (like due to its high fiber content).
Dates are high in sugar—but natural sugars, which don’t make you crash like refined sugars do. So they provide a good burst of energy when you need it most (2 p.m. feeling much?), a study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found, and can even help you wake up after a tiring activity like playing a sport.
Dates are high in Vitamin B6, which a study published in the journal Nutrients has found to help increase the body’s levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, serotonin which can brighten your mood and norepinephrine which can ease stress. Furthermore, this study shows that low levels of B6 are linked to depression.
The high fiber content in dates can work to make you feel fuller longer and can help prevent blood glucose spikes (which can make you hungry). On top of that, dates have a lot of metabolism-increasing antioxidants in them, such as anthocyanins, phenolics, and carotenoids, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Women might find eating dates during pregnancy especially useful, as one study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that women who ate six dates per a day for four weeks leading up to their due date were 20 percent more likely to go into labor naturally. They were also in labor for much less time than their non date-eating counterparts!
Improves heart health.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, dates may reduce triglyceride levels and decrease oxidative stress, which can contribute to heart disease.
Advances brain health.
Laboratory studies, including this one published in Neural Regeneration Research, have found that dates can help lower inflammatory markers, such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), in the brain. High levels of IL-6 are associated with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
One study published in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found a connection between stronger bones and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are found in dates. These minerals can also prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Did you know dates were so good for you? How will you start incorporating more dates into your diet?