By: Nadia Haris
The sticky, sweet fruit of the palm tree, dates are a traditional food and are eaten for their natural sugar, carbohydrates, protein and nutrient content. They are a healthy snack choice and are a rich source of energy, vitamins and minerals. Originally a fruit that was harvested in Middle Eastern desert regions, dates of several different types are now grown throughout the world, including in California.
Your body requires essential vitamins for healthy body function. Dates help to provide several of these nutrients, including the B vitamins, which are important in energy production. The website Sweet Energy notes dates are high in riboflavin, thiamine, niacin and pantothenic acid.
Dates are packed with several essential minerals that are necessary for oxygen transport, energy production, developing and maintaining bone health and boosting the immune system. The website California Dates lists several minerals found in dates; they include iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium and zinc.
All types of dates are high in dietary fiber; the website CalorieLab says that just one date contains 0.7 grams of fiber, fulfilling 3 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake. The Harvard School of Public Health advises that dietary fiber such as that found in dates binds to fats in the digestive tract and removes them from the body. This helps to reduce body fat and lower cholesterol levels. Dates and other fiber-dense foods also help to balance blood sugar levels, keeping energy levels more stable and helping you avoid excessive hunger pangs.
Calories and Sugar
Dates are a high calorie food; the website CalorieLab says that just one date, an 8.3-gram serving size, contains 23 calories. However, these are nutritious calories, and dates are still a healthy food. A date also contains about 5.3 grams of sugar. The American Diabetes Association says that dates should be eaten in moderation. Because of their high sugar content, dates have a medium glycemic index value, which means that they will raise blood sugar faster than other fruits.
Dates contain zero saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium or salt. This makes them a healthy choice to help maintain blood pressure and heart health, according to the website Sweet Energy. A diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
These fruits are also high in antioxidants, according to the website California Dates. Dates contain plant antioxidants called polyphenols, which help to remove free radical toxins from the body. This antioxidant activity may help to reduce the risk of some diseases.