Dates are a very nutritious food, and some people say that they can aid in weight loss. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this claim.

The findings of some studies suggest that consuming dates may be beneficial for people looking to lose weight, but scientists need to conduct much more research before they can prove that the fruit has this benefit.

This article provides more information about the health benefits of dates and the nutrients that they contain.

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There is very little research on the effects of dates on weight loss.

The researchers behind one study note that a primary way to prevent obesity involves the inhibition of pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that the pancreas produces. In the study, they tested several date extracts and found that they suppressed this enzyme.

In a 2020 clinical trial, researchers found that eating three dates per day did not lead to an increase in body mass index (BMI). Therefore, it seems that people can eat a small number of dates each day without this leading to weight gain.

The study authors note that although dates are high in sugar, they are low on the glycemic index scale, which means that they have less effect on blood sugar than foods containing table sugar.

Other researchers have noted that diets combining high fat and high glycemic foods promote weight gain. Therefore, people with a sweet tooth may benefit from replacing other sugary foods with dates.

Below is the nutritional information for a 100-gram (g) serving of dates, which is equivalent to about four dates.

Total fat0.15g
Vitamin A149international units
Vitamin B60.249milligrams (mg)

According to recommended daily allowances based on a 2,000-calorie diet, this serving size provides about 14% of the day’s calories, as well as 27% of carbohydrate, 24% of fiber, 15% of potassium, and 4% of protein.

A 2013 study reported that dates also contain the following:

  • Enzymes: These substances bring about biochemical reactions in the body.
  • Phenolic acids: These antioxidant compounds help protect against disease.
  • Carotenoids: These red, yellow, and orange pigments play a role in various bodily functions.

Dates may offer a range of health benefits. These include:

Induce labor

Doctors sometimes induce labor with certain hormones, but these substances can cause negative health effects in the pregnant person and the child.

A 2017 study examining the effects of date consumption during late pregnancy found that it reduced the need to induce labor with hormones. This solution proved safe, as it produced no side effects.

Reduce Alzheimer’s disease symptoms

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a condition that affects memory and the ability to think.

According to the authors of a 2015 study, current efforts to delay the onset or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease are not effective.

The study showed that dietary supplementation with dates had a neuroprotective effect in rodents genetically prone to Alzheimer’s. The researchers concluded that dates may lower the risk of this disease and slow its progression.

Improve cholesterol

High cholesterol levels may increase the risk of heart disease. One 2020 study evaluated the effects of eating three dates per day on cholesterol.

The results showed that the participants who ate the dates had higher levels of good cholesterol, which helps remove the harmful type of cholesterol. The participants also had lower levels of total cholesterol and reported a better quality of life.

Reduce inflammation

The researchers behind one 2020 study believe that eating foods that reduce inflammation may lower the risk of chronic diseases.

After finding that date seeds have anti-inflammatory properties, they concluded that eating date seeds regularly might increase immunity and help prevent chronic diseases.

Fight cancer

Dates may help fight or prevent cancer. One research paper found that dates may improve liver function and suppress liver cancer.

Another study suggested that dates may help maintain bowel health and lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Other research has indicated that dried fruit, such as dates, might help prevent cancers of the digestive system.

Dates are a very nutritious food to include in the diet. However, as they are high in plant sugar, a person may wish to limit their intake to a maximum of three per day.

The fruit is also available as a supplement, but scientists have not researched its safety in this form. In addition, the government does not review dietary supplements before they are available to consumers.

With all this in mind, it is best to talk with a doctor before taking a nutritional supplement.

People can incorporate dates into their diet in various ways. Examples include

  • Breakfasts: Add dates to oatmeal, granola, or cereal.
  • Salads: Add dates to fresh fruit or vegetable salads.
  • Snacks: Eat the dates as they are or add them to a trail mix.
  • Lunches or dinners: Mix dates into stews, soups, or casseroles.
  • Smoothies: Make smoothies with dates, yogurt, and bananas, or other fruits.
  • Desserts: Stuff dates with almond butter and top them with berries or crushed peanuts.
  • Energy balls: Use a food processor to mix dates, unsweetened coconut, and walnuts. Add a little vanilla and salt before forming the dough into balls and refrigerating them until serving.
  • Sugar substitute: Puree dates and use the puree in recipes as a substitute for sugar.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute note that people can take several steps to lose weight. These include:

  • Reducing calories: A person with excess body weight can follow a diet that results in a deficit of 500–1,000 calories per day. Doing this should result in a weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds per week.
  • Eating a healthy diet: People should center the diet on nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Nuts, beans, and lean meat are other healthy choices.
  • Exercising regularly: Guidelines recommend that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. People looking to lose weight can set a long-term goal of exercising for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.

The limited amount of research on this topic means that it is too soon to say whether dates help with weight loss. However, the research does suggest that eating a small number of dates per day does not lead to weight gain, despite their high sugar content.

As dates are very nutritious, they may be of value in preventing other health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer. More research is necessary to confirm these benefits, though.