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While dates are high in calories and sugar, they are a low glycaemic index food, therefore they are unlikely to cause a blood sugar spike nor an energy crash after eating them. — AZLINA ABDULLAH/The Star

The health benefits of consuming dates

Dates are a powerhouse of essential nutrients, providing a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that contribute to overall health and well-being.

Here’s a detailed look at the key nutrients found in dates and their specific health benefits:


Fibre aids in digestion by promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. It also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, reducing spikes in blood glucose levels. Additionally, fibre helps lower cholesterol levels, which supports heart health.


Potassium is crucial for maintaining proper heart function and regulating blood pressure. It helps balance sodium levels in the body, reducing the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). Potassium is also essential for muscle function, including the heart muscle, and helps prevent muscle cramps.


Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production, protein synthesis, and muscle and nerve function. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Adequate magnesium intake is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, plays a vital role in brain development and function. It helps produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, and melatonin, which regulates sleep.

Vitamin B6 is also involved in the production of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, and supports immune function by promoting the production of antibodies.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, which prevents excessive bleeding when injuries occur. It also plays a crucial role in bone health by regulating calcium binding in bones and other tissues. Adequate vitamin K intake can help prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis.


Iron is essential for the production of haemoglobin and myoglobin – proteins that carry oxygen in the blood and muscles. Adequate iron intake prevents anaemia and boosts energy levels.


Calcium is crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also plays a role in muscle contraction, nerve signalling and blood clotting.


Phosphorus works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It is also involved in energy production and storage, as it forms part of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body’s main energy molecule.


Zinc supports immune function, wound healing, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) synthesis and cell division. It also contributes to the senses of taste and smell. Dates are also rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acid.

Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can lead to oxidative stress and chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. These compounds also have anti-inflammatory properties, which help protect your cells from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.

Health benefits

There are many potential health benefits to consuming dates.

Heart health

The potassium and magnesium in dates support heart health by helping to regulate blood pressure and maintain proper heart function. The fibre content also helps reduce cholesterol levels, further protecting heart health.

Bone health

Dates contain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, which are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones.

Brain health

The antioxidants in dates, particularly flavonoids, have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect against brain damage.

Digestive health

The high fibre content in dates promotes healthy digestion by adding bulk to our stool and supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This can prevent digestive issues like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Sugar alternative

Dates are a healthier alternative to refined sugars, providing natural sweetness along with essential nutrients.

They contain the natural sugars glucose, which is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing an immediate energy boost; fructose, which is metabolised by the liver, offering a slower and sustained release of energy; and sucrose, which is composed of glucose and fructose, providing both an immediate energy boost and sustained energy release.

While dates are a concentrated source of sugar, they have a lower glycaemic index than other refined sugars. The fibre in them helps balance out the sugars, preventing a drastic blood sugar spike after consumption.


The compounds in dates, such as tannins, have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate symptoms of inflammatory conditions.

Skin health

Dates are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that promote healthy skin. Vitamins C and D in dates help improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Support during pregnancy

Dates are beneficial for pregnant women as they can help regulate blood pressure, reduce the risk of anaemia, and provide a quick energy source. Some studies also suggest that dates may help promote labour and ease delivery.

This is due to specific compounds in dates that mimic oxytocin, promoting healthy contractions. Additionally, the high tannin content in dates aids in making the labour process smoother and more comfortable for women.

Reduces cancer risk

In-depth studies have shown that dates contain a compound called beta D-glucan, which promotes anti-tumour activity within the body. Additionally, the high concentration of antioxidants in dates helps reduce the activity of free radicals, which can cause cancer.

Regular consumption of dates might be able to help significantly lower the risk of cancer and the occurrence of benign tumours.

Helps with hangovers

Dates can help alleviate hangover symptoms. Although not conclusively proven, there are numerous instances where soaked dates have reduced the effects of inebriation.

For the best results, gently peel and soak the dates in water, then consume them the following morning. Some tribal communities even add date palm extracts to beer to lessen its intoxicating effects. Eating a couple of dates after a night of drinking may help restore your productivity the next day.

Helps with diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a common disease worldwide. Dates have properties that can increase insulin production and reduce the absorption rate of glucose from the intestine.

This helps lower blood glucose levels, benefiting people with diabetes. While the exact mechanism is still under research, dates show promise in mitigating the effects of diabetes.

Reduce night blindness

Night blindness is primarily caused by a long-term deficiency of vitamin A. Dates, which are rich in vitamin A, can help prevent night blindness when consumed regularly. Historical records from West Asian countries indicate that dates have long been used as a natural remedy for this condition.

For Muslims, following the habits and practices (sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad SAW is regarded as praiseworthy and blessed. This is why dates are a must-have food item during Ramadan. Including dates in your diet in moderation can be a simple and delicious way to reap these numerous health benefits.

By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar
Published in Star Newspaper, 03 Jun 2024

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