March 11

The Health Benefits of Eating Dates

Filed under Raw Food & Health by Frederic Patenaude

By Jennifer Townes

A Date is a sweet fruit from the Date Palm (scientific name: Phoenix dactylifera). Originating in the desert oases of northern Africa and southwest Asia, Middle Eastern peoples have included dates as a part of their diet for centuries. The date is thought to be one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits.

The date palm has been referenced to as a “tree of life,” probably due to its excellent health benefits as well as its high nutritional value.

The surface of a date can be rather sticky, and as such lends itself to the harboring of dust and various impurities. It is advisable to purchase dates in good packaging conditions. Thoroughly wash dates prior to consumption.

Dates are best eaten when they are fresh, in season and water rich. You may also find raw dried dates at your organic market and these will be more concentrated and should be treated like all other dried fruits.

History of Dates

As a staple of Middle Eastern countries, dates have been cultivated since ancient times, likely as early as 6000 BC. Date Palms produce bunches of oval drupes that are at least 3 cm long and 2 cm in diameter. These drupes are called dates.

Evidence from archeologists reveals that dates were likely first cultivated in ancient times in the eastern Arab region, later, spreading around northern Africa, Italy, Spain and South East Asia.

Spanish peoples introduced dates to the people of Mexico and California around 1765. The fruit has a large variety and more than 400 varieties are produced in the palm groves of Iran.

Today dates are cultivated in Arizona and southern California in the United States.

Dates are incorporated in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine and desserts, and are often eaten whole. Frequently they are found stuffed with sweet fillings after removing its seed.

Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and Muslims fast each day, from sunrise to sunset, in order to gain a higher level of spiritual enlightenment. The tradition of eating dates during Ramadan, in order to break the fast at the end of each day, spans the course of history back to the time of the Prophet Mohammed (570-632 CE).

Naturally, a depletion of energy can be experienced as a result of fasting, and consuming dates is thought to be a gentle way in which to ease the body back into the act of eating. Dates, it is said, prevent metabolic, digestive, and other physical issues that may be caused by the practice of fasting.

Proported Health Advantages of Eating Dates

· Dates are digested very easily therefore they are good for supplying quick energy.

· They are known to be an excellent cure for intestinal disturbances.

· Regular consumption of dates has been found to check the growth of pathological organisms and help in the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines.

· Being a laxative food, dates have been found to be beneficial for those suffering from constipation, as well dates generally help the elimination of waste. They can be immersed in water at night and taken after making them into a fine syrup the next morning to secure laxative effect.

· Studies have shown that consumption of dates, soaked overnight and crushed, is good for those who have heart problems.

· Researchers have revealed that dates are effective in preventing abdominal cancer.

· One of the key benefits of dates is its ability to regulate a healthy nervous system, thanks to the rich potassium content. Research has recommended that higher intake of potassium (about 400 mg) can cut the risk of stroke by 40 percent.

· Ability to lower LDL cholesterol.

· Dates are rich in iron and can be beneficial to those who suffer from anemia.

· Israeli research has found that eating dates daily for four weeks can improve the quality of lipids (fats) in the blood without raising sugar levels.

Additional Benefits to Pregnant and Nursing Mothers

Some experiments have shown results that point to the strengthening of the uterine muscles due to consumption of dates. This is beneficial particularly in the last months of pregnancy. As well it is said dates can help dilation at the time of delivery. It should also be mentioned that research has found a link between dates and a reduction of bleeding postpartum.

With this information it is concluded that dates are a real benefit to women in pregnancy and those who are breast-feeding.

Dates are believed to contain elements that assist in alleviating depression in mothers and enriching the breast-milk with elements needed to make the child healthy and resistant to disease.

Health Benefits of Teeth in Regard to Eating Dates

By consuming dates, which contain an element called fluorine (this is responsible for the fruits enamel building) it is probable that they will assist in cavity prevention.

However care should be taken when partaking in all dried fruits, as well they should be enjoyed in moderation. Rinsing your mouth with water during and after meals should help prevent tooth decay. After eating high sugar fruits that leave residue on teeth (such as dried dates) you should always brush your teeth.

Suppliers of Raw Organic Dates

An excellent source that I recommend for purchasing high quality dates is the DATE PEOPLE.

They provide raw dates that are never frozen or heated. Using sustainable growing they provide forty different varieties of dates.
The Date People P.O. Box 808,
Niland CA 92257 Phone 760-359-3211

12 Responses to “The Health Benefits of Eating Dates”

  1. What about the dangers of overeating dates? I’ve seen comments to this effect from 80-10-10 people (thus people who aren’t typically fruit-phobic) and my own experience was that I cannot rely on my body to tell me when it’s done eating dates the way I can with other fruits. I bought two pounds of dates and lost all self-control, eating them all in the space of a week. I gained lots of unwanted weight and suddenly had cravings for not just cooked food but processed junk foods. Before going on the date binge, I had overcome my cravings for unwanted food but after overeating on dates, those cravings came back full force. I’m still struggling to get back on course and it was all those dates that threw me off my game.

    Why doesn’t my body tell me to stop eating dates like it does with bananas or oranges when I’ve had enough? Why are they so irresistable that once I start eating dates it takes a Herculean effort to stop? I see that dates are good for me, but they throw me completely out of control! Are there dangers in overeating dates or is it all my imagination and personal weakness? Thanks!

  2. Frederic Patenaude says:

    In my experience if someone overeats on dates they are not eating enough juicy sweet fruits. Before I practiced low fat raw, I could not be near dates because I would overeat dates! Now it’s almost impossible for me to eat more than 10 small ones.
    Eat more fruits, and you won’t overeat dates. Also, there’s a big difference with fresh dates. They are easy to digest compared to dried dates.

  3. Avi Saha says:

    I think Frederic yo really like dates, so you wrote this article, but you can find these benefits in many other fresh fruits. Dates are the higest glycemic fruit, and possibly highest glycemic food on earth. It is above 100, so of course you gain “quick” energy, this is your blood sugar rising rapidly. In an hour you will fell lethargy from low blood sugar.

    THis is why Sparrow became so addicted to dates. They have WAY MORE sugar than bananas, even ripe ones. She became more and more insulin resistant for a week. Sparrow: I recommend low carbing and eating no sugar but from lettuce and greens for a week and you should be fine. I have done this before and all sugar cravings go away on a high fat diet. I too can eat nearly a half a pound of dates in a sitting after a workout, as the the sugar is addicting. Sugar creates changes in the brain similar to other opiate drugs…there is research on this.

    Dates do have some beneficial minerals, but the safest time to eat them is after a workout, with weights, not simply cardio, when insulin sensitivity has increased, or with cinnamon/carob/mesquite/fenugreek and other spices/herbs which balance blood sugar whilst suppressing insulin.

    Sugar puts on fat, increases the worst type of cholesterol, vLDL (the small LDL which clog arteries). SO the statement that dates lower LDL cholesterol was probably based on a poorly conducted study. GLucose raises vLDL, which clogs arteries. Big Fluffy LDL which is increased by saturated fats protects the heart..i know this will not be liked, but i must speak out as I do not believe such a high sugar fruit is conducive to good health

  4. Frederic Patenaude says:

    Thanks for your comment Avi, but it is full of inconsistencies and inaccurate information. Dates are considered a low glycemic food in many research. For example:

    I’m shocked you would say that someone became “insulin resistant” for a week when all the person said is they tend to overeat dates. That’s very misleading information.

    As for the myth that “sugar puts on fat”, this may be true of refined fructose only, but as I’ll be describing in a future video, the assumption that “carbs make you fat” is not substantiated. To create storee fat from sugar, the body must revert to a very complicated energy-expensive process known as dinovoglycogenesis, the creation of a new fat molecule from a sugar molecule. In this process around 30% of calories are lost.

    On the other hand when you start from fat, it only takes 3% of total calories to store the fat you eat as body fat. It’s easy to understand why: sugar is a round molecule, different than fat. It’s much easier for the body to take fat and store it as body fat, than convert sugar into fat. In fact, by analyzing body fat we can tell exactly what types of fat the person ate because it is stored as body fat almost exactly in its original state.

  5. My blood sugar *did* spike that week (I’m healing from type 2 diabetes) and I’m sure it was because of overeating dates but I don’t blame it on fruit sugar per se because before I went raw my blood sugar was out of control, even on Dr. Barnard’s low-fat vegan regime. When I went raw, I quickly noticed that the *more* fruit I eat, the *more* my blood sugar stays in normal ranges. My body LOVES fruit, which is part of why I was so shocked by my body’s reaction to the dates.

    Thanks for your help, Frederic! I will buy my dates a few at a time from now on (my co-op sells them in a bulk bin) and no more 2 pound boxes! And when I want a date, I’ll eat some other fruit first and save the dates for “dessert.” Your advice is so helpful!

  6. Frederic Patenaude says:

    That’s great news! Remember that dates are very concentrated. I typically only eat them during the date season (November-December) when you can get them fresh and moist, and then normally I eat less than 10 at a time. Make sure you order some from the Date People next season, their dates are amazing!

  7. Avi Saha says:

    I have never seen that study before, so I agree that those varieties of dates, which i am mostly unfamiliar with, do have a low GI. But medjool dates are the ones I was thinking of that they do contain much greater amounts of sugar.
    Some sources, say their glycemic index is above 100, but that may have to be investigated.

    And my comment about insulin resistance, well we are all diabetic to a degree in my opinion, and some other doctors whom I have heard from. Degrees of insulin resistance can certainly change in the short term from sugar cravings… I certainly believe Sparrow’s excess fat storage from over consumption of dates in one week could have resulted in hyperinsulemia.

    Of course diabetes can be reversed as quickly as it occurred, as we see in “Simply Raw,” but overeating dates and putting on fat is a clear example of how sugar puts on fat.

    I am aware that it takes more energy to convert sugar to fat, which is why I eat sugar alone, and fat alone. But if Sparrow overate dates, and then ate fats in the same meal, or even later in in the day after a fruit binge, those fats will be stored as long as insulin is present, as excess sugar may be as well after consumption of high sugar dates.

    When fats are eaten in the absence of insulin, they will not put on fat, satiety is increased, and the body shifts to a fat burning metabolism over time, and mitochondrial functions can be improved, as hey get better at burning FFA.

    The fact that fat stores more easily as fat is obvious, but does not explain why low carbohydrate diets are so effective in fat loss, and high sugar diets are not. Why are so many people obese today? Sugar seems to be the primary culprit, since fat consumption has decreased over the past 40 years.

    It is good that you mention you only will eat 10 or so small dates, but I think the distinction between higher sugar varieties, available in supermarkets, and the varieties available in the tropics, needs to be made so people understand that high sugar and high insulin is not a great thing in excess as Sparrow witnessed.

  8. Frederic Patenaude says:

    As you might know, my approach is low fat, high fruit — not the other way around. Low carb diet are effective in weightless simply because they are calorie-restricted. Extreme carb-restricted diets also put the body in a ketosis mode, which gives the illusion of more weight loss, when all in fact is lost is water, muscle glycogen, and the same average fat loss than other calorie restricted diets.

    A lot of things increase the increase in obesity, and I’m sure you will not find fruit consumption to be one of them. The actual cause of obesity is the increase in caloric intake over the past 20-30 years, with Americans eating out more, drinking more pop, etc. Fat consumption has actually not decreased significantly over the past 30 years, but calorie consumption has increased. (For more information, I recommend the book “Fat Land” by Greg Crister.

    I would dare anyone to find ONE long-term, obese, low fat, high fruit raw vegan. You can look as hard as you can… you won’t find them.

  9. Al says:

    From what I have always seen dates do not have any laxative effects, on the contrary they have a constipating effect and are very helpful for people suffering from diarrhea. And Dry prunes are good for constipation.

  10. If you look at the data in the National Weight Control Registry (a long-term investigation of weight loss that requires medical records verifying that those listed in the database have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for at least one year) you will find precious few who have achieved that goal through low-carb eating. Primarily what you see in the registry is various forms of high-carb, low-fat eating. This is what is showing long-term success.

    Low-carb eating will give success in the short term. But there is very little long-term success. People get ill after eating so much meat for so long and go back to a different way of eating and re-gain the weight. I’m not a low-carber because:

    a. I would have to force-feed myself since I find meat disgusting, fish disgusting, the smell of cooked eggs nauseating, etc.
    b. I’ve read the results of the Harvard Nurse’s Health Study that showed a link between meat eating and kidney damage
    c. I couldn’t afford to feed myself a meat diet anyway! Have you seen the cost of meat these days?

    I gained weight on my date binge because I was overeating on calories, plain and simple. If I’d eaten that many calories from any source, I would have gained weight. Dates have concentrated calories so while I can’t eat, say 5 bananas in one sitting (I’m satisfied and wandering off to find something else to do after 3), I can easily eat 30 dates and still be thinking about eating more. It’s the caloric density, not the fruit sugars, that packed the weight on me as I was plowing my way through that box of dates. Plus, something about dates — maybe that caloric density, maybe the amazing flavor. I don’t know — doesn’t turn on my leptin (the body’s hormone that says we’re satisfied with food.) Bananas (and other fruits) are great for switching me from ghrelin to leptin and giving me that happy sensation of satisfaction. I would be difficult and uncomfortable for me to try to force myself to eat too many calories of apples or bananas. It’s just not going to happen – my body says “stop eating” at the right time.

  11. Susan says:

    Interesting discussion! I also went on a date binge recently! I found out that my kids like them, so I bought a lot of them. In my case, also being a diabetic, my blood sugar zoomed and the rosacea on my face, which had cleared up so nicely on a 100% raw diet, came back. I find them very convenient to eat – I don’t have to chop fruit or veggies, or make smoothies so I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to refuel. I had a hard time sleeping also, I got dehydrated (dates are only 30% water, while most other fruits have a lot more water) and was guzzling water. One thing I have really enjoyed since being on a raw diet is that I hardly ever feel thirsty. Before, I was so dehydrated all the time that my lips would crack and bleed, from having high blood sugar.
    I also noticed that when I eat too many dates, I feel cranky, I lose the nice mellow buzz that I usually have. I feel almost like I did when I ate cooked food. Again, dates are more concentrated, and have la lot less water than other raw fruits and veggies.
    So I guess it is different for everybody. I plan to enjoy dates in moderation, around the holidays. Otherwise I feel so much better on my regular 811rv type of diet.

  12. All respect to Dr. Cousens and his hard work and great accomplishments, but I bought his diabetes book after seeing his movie and followed the diet he writes about in the book, using the recipes he provided. I had to stop after a week because my blood sugar was higher than it had ever been in my life, my blood pressure went up and I felt absolutely awful. Apparently his system works for a lot of people but it made me feel really run-down and sent my health numbers seriously into the red zone. I wanted to try the whole 30 days like the people in the movie, but I was feeling so sick and depressed I had to stop after only 8 days.

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