Dates are often used as alternative sweeteners because of their natural sweetness, but are dates healthy or are they just another form of sugar?
It turns out that these sweet foods contain more than just carbohydrates and sugars: they are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other health-promoting nutrients that can help you stay healthy. Learn about the many reasons you might want to eat dates below.
Why Are Dates Healthy?
Dates contain a lot of nutrients that help to keep your body healthy. Dates are a good source of things like:
- Vitamins (like vitamin C, vitamin E, and B vitamins)
- Minerals (like potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, copper, and magnesium)
- Antioxidants 
- Phytosterols 
Dates have antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory effects in the body, which make them helpful in controlling a variety of health problems.
5 Reasons Why Dates are Good for You
- Dates are good for your heart. Eating dates can help to control risk factors for heart disease like triglyceride, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.[1-3] 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.[1,2] Dates also may prevent build up of plaque in arteries.
- 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.
- 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.[5,6]
- Dates can help fight infection. As they have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, dates can help the body to fight off infection to stay healthy.
- Dates help with labor and delivery. A 2011 study found that it isn’t just an old wives’ tale; dates actually are beneficial for women giving birth. The study compared results in women who ate six dates per day for the four weeks before delivery and those who didn’t. The first stage of labor was 38% shorter in women who ate dates. Date consumption also reduced the need for induction of labor, among other beneficial effects.
Adding Dates to your Diet
Adding a few dates to your regular diet isn’t an unhealthy choice. If you were wondering, “are dates healthy?” the list above will help convince you that dates can be a good part of a healthy 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.
Share Your Experience
Do you eat dates? What is your favorite way to eat them? Please share your tips and favorite recipes in the comments section below.
Originally published in 2016, this post has been updated.