6 Health Benefits Of Dates – An Ultimate Training Food

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If you’ve ever tried a medjool date then you will know just what a yummy, sticky and sweet treat they are. But, along with being delicious they are also unbelievably healthful. In fact, these 6 health benefits of dates are literally astounding, and as they are so full of nutrient dense energy they can also be classed as the ULTIMATE training food.

I’m talking specifically about the medjool date variety, as these really are the rolls royce of the date world in terms of both taste and nutrition. They mostly come dried and taste super sweet – almost caramely, and are the perfect fix when you are craving something sugar or are in need of a quick energy boost.

The Date’s Nutritionl Profile

woman doing plank

Dates are the ultimate fitness training food for before, during, and after exercise, due to the fact they are packed full of low GI sugar; the type that give you a slow and sustained energy release over time, and not that fast hit you get from refined or free sugars. They also fit the perfect macro-nutrient requirements of a training food: Each date contains 66 calories, 17g carbs, and barely zero protein and fat making them similar to most energy gels – only way more nutritious of course, and much cheaper!

Although the sugars in dates are high, they are in the form of glucose, fructose and sucrose – the types that are easily broken down and processed by the body which is exactly what is needed when you need an instant but long lasting energy fix.

A Perfectly Packaged Superfood!

bowl of dried dates

Dates already come perfectly packaged, making them easy to transport; and they don’t spoil easily either, so you can either eat them straight out of the fridge, or wrap them in some tin foil and take them with you on your run, to the gym, or for a snack at work.

Dates aren’t just for those in training, they are good for EVERYBODY; this includes diabetics (in moderation, and along with a healthy diet plan). They also have an impressive number of other nutritional benefits including:-

  • HIGH FIBER – To keep your bowels working well, and to slow down the release of the date’s sugars.
  • HIGH IN IRON – A vital component of hemoglobin, which is the substance in your red blood cells that helps to carry the oxygen you breathe throughout your body.
  • VITAMIN B6 – Vital for good mood, your central nervous system, brain health, reduces PMT symptoms, good for the heart, eye health, and anti inflammatory.
  • MAGNESIUM – Great for soothing aching muscles, reducing anxiety symptoms, easing migraines and headaches, helps the body to absorb calcium from other foods, heart healthy, and reduces PMT symptoms.
  • POTASSIUM – Helps to lower blood pressure, enhances power and strength in your muscles, puts electrolytes into your body (one of the reasons dates are so awesome for those in training), regulates metabolism, and helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress.

1. Perfect on a plant based diet

A healthy plant based or vegan diet will require you to make sure you are eating lots of good sources of plant proteins; plus lots of antioxidants and nutrients – especially calcium. Fortunately for plant based eaters dates are abundant in all of these due to their impressive nutritional profile, and should be a staple in any plant based eating plan.

2. Heart healthy

Medjool dates are good for your heart, as both their soluble and insoluble fiber content helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which in turn may help lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Taken alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise, dates may help act as a preventative measure against all of the above.

3. Bone health

Xray of hand

The high amounts of key nutrients in dates, the likes of calcium and phosphorus, are perfect for strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also needed for the repair, maintenance and growth of cells and tissues.

Calcium is crucial to the healthy function of your nerves, muscles and heart, and is the NUMBER ONE mineral for helping to prevent osteoporosis. It is worth noting that contrary to popular belief, there are many plant foods higher in calcium than dairy products, and their calcium is often more easily absorbed too. 

As you age you need more calcium than ever, because your bones will be becoming more fragile and your absorption rate will be lower. Therefore, lots of calcium rich plant foods should be of number one importance at any age if you want to keep your bones strong and healthy for life.

4. Natural sweetener

Medjool dates are what you could call ‘nature’s very own candy’, and if you feel an itch for a sweet treat then dates will certainly scratch it – plus they are guilt free! They come in low on the glycemic index scale at 43-55 for non diabetics, and 43-53 for type 2 diabetics (diabetics can eat up to 3 a day if the rest of their food intake is healthy). As with all the good things in life they will still need to be eaten in moderation, or instead of other treats if you don’t want to gain weight.

 5. Antioxidants

unpaired electrons

Dates are a very high antioxidant fruit, and antioxidants are needed in abundance in our diets, especially as we are living in such a highly toxic environment. Antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals in your body before than can damage your cells and DNA, therefore slowing down the aging process on both the inside and out. If this damage were to be left out of control it would more than likely lead to premature aging and degenerative disease.

6. Anti inflammatory

Dates, along with most other plant foods are anti inflammatory, and therefore can help to fight chronic inflammation in the body. This in turn may help to ease pain, especially the pain caused by inflammatory diseases, such as autoimmune disease, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Chronic inflammation is something that affects more and more of us in the modern world, usually due to our toxic environment and factors such as too much sugar, trans fats, alcohol, tobacco, pollution and other toxins in the environment, andcan eventually lead to certain diseases. You can help to lower chronic inflammation by eating lots of alkaline plant foods, plus antioxidant and age defying foods such as fruits, legumes, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts and seeds on a daily basis (You will need at least 7 portions to make a good impact).

Other uses for dates

Dates can be used in all sorts of baking and cooking too. Who doesn’t love a gooey date flapjack, protein or energy balls,or a fruity breakfast granola? All healthy and wholesome examples of the versatility of dates.

Check out the energy ball recipes I sourced out from YouTube as they are an easy way to batch make these treats for your week, plus they contain lots of other healthful ingredients too.

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29 thoughts on “6 Health Benefits Of Dates – An Ultimate Training Food”

  1. You said they are full of low GI sugar that will give you a slow and sustained energy release. Does that mean they have a low Glycemic Load. Everyone talks about High GI (Index Spike). But you are one of the few that mention Glycemic Load, which I believe is the time it takes Insulin (I think) to return to normal.

    Could it be that a food could have a High GI and a low GL and be good for you. So confusing.
    I wish I had a simple explanation of GI and GL and what is the health issues with both.
    Thank you for your excellent article, The Dates sound like a Super Food. Hmm I think I feel like having a date. LOL

    1. Hi Dave, yes glycemic load and glycemic index are indeed confusing and it depends on what portion sizes foods are measured in. For instance a 30g portion of a sugary cereal could have a high GI but low GL. This is because the simple refined sugars will hit the bloodstream quickly, but because it is such a small amount it works out that it has a low glycemic load. Make sense? Dates have a low GI and low GL if you are talking about 1 date, but if you eat 100g of them they will still have a low GI but a high GL.

      Fortunately it is safe for diabetics to eat about 3 a day (I’ve double checked this to be sure) if the rest of their diet is healthy, as they are so high fiber and this makes the difference. I cannot say the same for all foods though and they would have to be double checked first. Thanks for your comment…now go eat dates!

  2. Hi Stephanie,

    This is another great addition to a smart dietary regimen. It’s good to know that there are other choices and better ones to dairy products for getting calcium (especially if one has an intolerance to lactose). I’m going to add this to my google+ page and recommended section of my site.

    Thanks so much for this, Brad

    1. Wow that’s great, and thanks Brad. I am going to check your website out later and leave a comment for you. Yes, I really do believe that swapping to plant based eating really is beneficial, not just for calcium but so many other things. It’s certainly changed my life and I would never now go back as I just feel so much lighter and healthier, and I rarely get sick, plus my skin is SO much better…Oh I could go on and on.

  3. Hello Stefanie, thank you for talking about dates, I really learnt something from your post. I didn’t know all the beneficial effects from dates. Sometimes we forgot that Mother Nature provides us with everything we need. The part I liked the most is this one: “they are guilt free!” I love dates, we usually eat them at Christmas time in Italy!


    1. Hi Arianna, I’m glad you like dates too! I’m addicted to them as I have a sweet tooth and they stop me consuming more unhealthy sugars. They really are a great substitute for sure. Yes we traditionally eat them at Christmas in the UK too, but that was back when they were only available at that time of year. Now luckily, we can get them all year round.

  4. Dates are so delicious. I only eat them a few times a year because they are pretty high in sugar. I’m more of a ketogenic dieter. I have used them in a few autoimmune paleo sweet treats. However, I tend to shy away from sweets. For me, they become somewhat addictive.

    1. Hi Melinda, I know what you mean about sugar being addictive! I tend to only eat natural sugars these days and feel so much better for it. I salute you for eating ketogenic as I just don’t think I could do it, especially as I exercise a lot. Plus, unfortunately I suffer from depression and eating low carb triggers it in a big way as I found out when I tried a totally sugar/carb free diet (I guess that was ketongenic) for 2 weeks and it threw my brain chemicals completely out of whack. Still makes me shudder thinking about it. It just shows how different we all are I guess, so now I just keep away from all free sugars and that’s my happy place.

  5. Wow, you learn something new every day. I had no idea how beneficial these guys were, good thing they are yummy. I will have to add them to my pantry so my family and I can benefit from them. I haven’t heard about dates in so long. Thanks for sharing this information.

    1. Hi Melissa, yes they are the kind of thing you easily forget about, especially when it’s not Christmas ha ha. But they definitely deserve a place in your diet as they are just so delicious. My tip is to keep them in the refrigerator as it makes them go really chewy.

  6. Sounds like something great to incorporate into one’s diet. I’m going to give them a try…can’t drink milk so this should help with calcium (it sounds like). Thanks

    1. Hi there, yes they are a good source of calcium especially if you don’t eat dairy products. I would say however that you should read my post about other high calcium foods as there are actually plant based foods that are higher and may be better if it’s specifically calcium you need.

  7. Stefanie, I am not a sweet toothed person. My wife hates the fact that I can sit in front of any sweet, you name it, and go without. She, on the other hand, craves sweets. So I’m gonna have to pass your suggestion on to her.
    With that in mind, where can we find the medijool date?
    Thank you in advance for you help!

    1. Hey there, yes I’m sure your wife will indeed like medijool dates if she has a sweet tooth, and she can eat these without the guilt! I don’t know where you live but in the UK we can buy medijool dates in most supermarkets or greengrocers, and when i was doing my research I noticed that they are actually the most popular dates in the US so if you live there then you should easily find them, just ask at you supermarket when you go shopping. Or you will find them in the dried fruit section. Hope that helps.

  8. Dates are one of the most nutritious, wholesome super foods. I have lived for about 10 years in middle east so I always used to have dates, so yummy and delicious and full of nutrition. I really love the way you have explained each and every benefit of including dates in our food.

    1. Hi Sarah, that’s cool you used to live in the Middle East, how amazing. Any yes they love their dates out there. I remember eating fresh dayes when I was on holiday in Egypt, in fact they were everywhere. However I do much prefer the dried medijool, they are just in a league of their own!

  9. I should really eat more dates, I just love them and now I know more about how they’re actually not just sugar bombs! I went to a date farm in the middle of nowhere in California, a few years back – there are many kinds of dates and the trees themselves can live for a very long time. Archaeologists were able to grow a date free from a seed they found in a 2,000 year old site!

    1. Wow that’s a cool story, mainly because it’s in California and I’ve always wanted to go there! Yes dates are just awesome, and so delicious. They are just the best when you are having a sugar craving that needs to be sated, sometimes you just NEED something sweet!

  10. I’m glad your are filling me in on all the nutritious fruits and raw foods to eat or to start with. The more I learn about them the more it will help me keep them in mind when I am at the grocery store. I heard avocados are really good for you have you any thing on them?

    1. Hi there, I am really glad you are finding my website informative as that is what I intend for it. Yes, eating simple healthy foods actually means it is so much easier to shop because most of the aisles are full of junk foods. I have noticed this tremendously since going plant based, I pretty much have just two aisles to go down and I’m done.

      As for avocados, it so happens that they are my number one superfood. They have so many benefits that I wrote a whole post about them which I would love you to check out

  11. Great article about dates. I usually have dates in my regular diet and I haven’t found anything more energetic and nutritious as dates. Dates are super food for all of us to have. Thank you so much for sharing this useful information. This article is worth a read and I will share it on my social media for sure.

    1. Hi Sarah, I’m glad you found the post interesting. I too eat dates every day as they are my favorite energy boosting snack – they are especially good for when I go to the gym as they are just such an instant hit of energy, which s what you need for gym work. Please feel free to share so others can benefit from these wonderful fruits too!

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