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Three reasons to add dates to your diet

By Kristen N. Smith, Ph.D., R.D.N., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter on

Published in Health & Fitness

Dates are often used as alternative sweeteners because of their natural sweetness, but are dates healthy or are they just another form of sugar?

This sweet food contains more than just carbohydrates and sugars: dates are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other health-promoting nutrients that can help you stay healthy. Dates contain many nutrients that help to keep your body healthy. Dates are a good source of:

Adding dates to your diet

Dates can be used as sweeteners in recipes (for things like energy balls, pie crusts, raw treats and more). You might also try chopping dates and adding them to your oatmeal in the morning, blending them into smoothies, stuffing them with nutritious fillings like nuts, or adding them to trail mix.

The health benefits of dates include antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory effects in the body, which make them helpful in controlling a variety of health problems.

Here are three reasons to add dates to your meals or snacks.

 

1. Dates are good for your heart. Eating dates can help to control risk factors for heart disease like triglyceride, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. In one study, 100 g of dates per day for four weeks decreased triglyceride levels by between 8% and 15%. They can also help control blood pressure. They have a favorable ratio of sodium to potassium, and they impact other compounds involved in blood pressure regulation. Dates also may help prevent build-up of plaque in the arteries.

2. Dates help diabetes. Although the sweetness of dates may make you think they aren’t good for people with diabetes, dates can actually be beneficial for diabetes care. In fact, 100 g of dates for four weeks led to no increase in blood sugar levels in one study. They don’t have a very high glycemic index, are full of fiber and are antioxidant-rich foods, all factors that help with diabetes treatment.

3. Dates may help fight cancer. Many of the qualities of dates make them good cancer-fighting tools. They may be particularly protective against colon cancer, as they have been shown to increase bowel movements, reduce ammonia concentration in the stool, and inhibit proliferation of colon cancer cells, which can all help reduce the risk of colon cancer.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)