The Real Health Benefits Of Dates

When craving a naturally sweet treat, many people might reach for a ripe peach, fresh apple, or tangy orange. But there is one sweet treat many people tend to overlook, and it's one that can have a pretty big impact on our health. This jewel of the produce section? The date.

Although they may appear dried, dates are essentially fresh when you buy them at the store. Some companies do sell dried dates but most of them let the fruit dry naturally, creating a sticky sweet treat on par with some forms of candy. According to Health, three dates contain about 200 calories. While that may sound high, a serving of three dates also contains 5 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, as well as small amounts of several key micronutrients. Vitamin K, multiple B vitamins, calcium, manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc are all wrapped up in the soft candy-like sweetness of dates.

But vitamins aren't the most impressive part of dates. Their biggest benefit actually comes from the effect they have on cholesterol and gut health.

Dates can improve cholesterol, gut health, and more

Dates contain a fair amount of fiber which already makes them a help to gut health. But a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that dates may have a specific benefit that goes beyond fiber's usual impact. Researchers found that adding dates to participants' diets led to better bowel movements. Additionally, when the stool was checked, scientists found fewer traces of compounds that are linked to cancer-causing cell mutations.

Another study published in 2019, found that dates were antimicrobial. Published in the Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences, the study also found that dates were a good source of antioxidants.

Even more impressive still, was a 2020 study published in Nutrients. Researchers added dates to the diets of patients who were both diabetic and suffering from high cholesterol. They found that, despite dates' sugar content, the fruit did not affect the A1C levels of participants. Dates did, however, impact their LDL levels compared to those in the control groups. The participants who ate dates saw their LDL levels go down. LDL is known as "bad" cholesterol, the one closely associated with heart disease. Reducing the participants' LDL count ultimately helped improve their overall health.

Dates are sweet enough to eat as a treat, and versatile enough to use in everything from baking to salads. After all, who doesn't love a dessert that helps support heart health?