Are Dates Good For Weight Loss? How To Add To Your Diet [UK] 2023
A nutritious fruit that could help with weight management is date fruit, commonly referred to as dates. These fruits are high in fiber and packed full of nutrients. Many health benefits have been associated with eating dates, but can dates aid weight loss? Eating dates may be something to consider; keep reading to find out if they are something you would want to consider adding to a weight loss diet.
Are Dates Healthy For Weight Loss?
Research looking into the weight loss effects of dates specifically is limited. A 2020 study found that consuming three dates daily for 16 weeks did not result in any significant changes to body mass index. The study did find a decrease in total blood cholesterol and low-density blood cholesterol. However, the weight did not change.
Another more recent 2022 study assessed if biscuits composed of extracted date fiber could be used to treat obesity. The study was an animal experiment and involved feeding date fiber biscuits to rats. The study found that rats being fed date fiber biscuits with 5%-15% date fiber had greater weight loss than rats not receiving date fiber biscuits. While these results are exciting, longer-term studies and human trials must be completed to determine the effect of date fiber on human body weight.
Overall, there is no evidence that eating dates alone will result in losing weight. However, there is plenty of evidence to show that fruits and vegetables should be part of a healthy diet and should be included in your diet daily. Research has shown that increased fruit and vegetable intake is linked to weight loss, with the change in weight loss increasing when fruit and vegetable intake replaces unhealthy food consumption.
This is because fruits and vegetables are lower in calories, have a low-fat content, typically have a lower glycemic index, are high in dietary fiber, and tend to slow down the rate of eating. While you can get many vitamins and minerals through nutritional supplements, be mindful that your diet should still include fruits and vegetables.
A few dates throughout the week is completely acceptable as it is a nutrient-dense fruit and is a source of dietary fiber; therefore incorporating dates into a healthy diet full of variety could certainly help you lose weight. There should not be any concern over eating dates for weight gain if you use portion control.
Dates can be found growing in the wild or being cultivated on farms. They grow on palm trees and are commonly found growing in dry areas of Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, but can also be found growing in some areas of North America and Australia.
There are two species of dates, desert dates, and palm dates. Desert dates are higher in bioactive components, whereas palm dates are higher in sugar. Both types contain several polyphenols, which are known to offer numerous health benefits.
In the United States, the two most commonly grown dates are Deglet Noor dates and Medjool dates; both are types of palm dates. The nutritional information of both types is detailed below, as these will likely be the dates available for purchase in U.S.grocery stores.
Nutritional composition of 100 grams of Medjool dates, approximately four dates:
- Energy (calorie): 277 kilocalories
- Water: 21.3 grams
- Protein: 1.81 grams
- Fat: 0.15 grams
- Carbohydrates: 75 grams
- Fiber: 6.7 grams
- Magnesium: 54 milligrams
- Potassium: 696 milligrams
- Iron: 0.9 milligrams
- Copper: 0.362 milligrams
- Manganese: 0.296 milligrams
- Vitamin B6: 0.249 milligrams
- Vitamin A: 149 international units
Nutritional composition of 100 grams of Deglet Noor dates, approximately fourteen dates.
- Energy (calorie): 282 kilocalories
- Water: 20.5 grams
- Protein: 2.45 grams
- Fat: 0.39 grams
- Carbohydrates: 75 grams
- Fiber: 8 grams
- Magnesium: 43 milligrams
- Potassium: 656 milligrams
- Iron: 1.02 milligrams
- Copper: 0.206 milligrams
- Manganese: 0.262 milligram
- Vitamin B6: 0.165 milligrams
- Vitamin A: 10 international units
How To Eat Dates To Lose Weight
How Many Dates To Eat Per Day?
The number of dates you eat per day is really up to you and your weight goals, as well as the size and type of the dates! The key to a diet that will help you lose weight is to choose a variety of whole foods and be sure to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein.
Snacking on a handful of dates or incorporating them into a meal are great ways to add dates to your diet. Be mindful of the type of dates you are eating; as noted above, four Deglet Noor dates contain nearly the same calories as four Medjool dates. Losing weight involves creating a calorie deficit in your day, which can be done while enjoying moderate portions of dates.
Ways To Add Dates To Your Diet
Dates are a very versatile fruit! They are naturally sweet, so they can make a nice treat or add a shot of flavor to any meal. Try out some of the suggestions below.
- Bake date muffins and eat them for breakfast with fresh fruit
- Make a date yogurt parfait with your favorite yogurt
- Try adding dates to different smoothies
- Add chopped dates into any side salad you enjoy
- Make date squares which are sure to cure a sweet tooth
- Add dates to a delicious fruit salad
- Try making nutrient-dense energy balls with dates
- Add dried dates into trail mix for a snack on the go
Other Health Benefits Of Dates
A 2020 study investigated the anti-inflammatory activity associated with steeped date seed consumption among middle-aged women. The study found that four inflammatory markers decreased among the women consuming the steeped date seed. This indicates that steeped date consumption could be associated with increased body immunity and prevention of chronic diseases.
Potential Cancer Prevention
A 2020 review study assessed dried fruit intake as being associated with a reduction in cancer of the digestive system, as it is well-researched that whole fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with reduced cancer risk. Results indicated Increasing the consumption of dried fruit may lower cancer incidence and prevention of digestive system cancer.
A 2015 study found similar findings by investigating the impact of palm date consumption on colonic microbiota growth and colon cancer risk markers. The study determined there were no significant changes in the colonic microbiota; however, potential protective effects against colon cancer risk were identified through a reduction in the genotoxicity of fecal water and increased frequency of bowel movements.
A 2021 review study aimed to determine the effect consuming dates has on blood glucose among patients with diabetes. The study found that consuming dates was associated with a decrease in fasting blood glucose levels, i.e., blood sugar after fasting for at least eight hours, and postprandial blood glucose levels, i.e., blood sugar after eating.
No effect was found on glycated hemoglobin, i.e., measurement of average blood sugar levels over the past three months.
This indicates eating dates could be beneficial for short-term glycemic control. This agrees with other research that determined dates are a low glycemic index food, meaning they have little effect on blood sugars.
A recent 2020 review study aimed to determine if consuming dates would affect labor duration, bishop score, i.e., examination of the cervix to predict when labor will start, and frequency of cesarean sections. The review found consuming dates had no significant effect on the first, second, or third stage of labor or frequency of cesarean section.
There was a significant association between date consumption and reduction in the active phase of labor and improved bishop score. This indicates date fruit consumption near the end of pregnancy can lead to labor induction and stimulation. This is thought to occur due to date fruit acting on the prostaglandin receptors.
Potential Side Effects
While the health benefits related to dates are clear, there are some potential side effects you should consider.
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that is commonly added to food as a sweetener and shelf life extender. However, it is also found in certain foods naturally, including dates. While sorbitol is safe to consume, it does have laxative properties meaning if you eat too much, you could have diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Individual sensitivity to sorbitol will vary from person to person. While dates are still safe to eat and very nutritious, be mindful of these side effects when increasing your date consumption. Be particularly cautious if you suffer from diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset frequently.
Dates are also high in fructose. This could be problematic for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and Crohn`s disease, as dates would not be an acceptable food if you are following the low FODMAP diet meaning a diet that is low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Individual tolerance to foods that are non-compliant with the low FODMAP diet will vary, so be cautious when trying out new food.
The Bottom Line
While there are no direct associations between eating dates and losing weight, we know that eating a healthy diet full of a variety of foods is an essential part of losing or maintaining weight. Although there is a possibility that dates could cause diarrhea, you just need to be mindful to eat within your body`s tolerance level and calorie limitations. In summary, dates are a nutrient-dense food with many health benefits that can certainly aid weight loss when consumed moderately.
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