You can safely consume dates during pregnancy in a moderate amount. Additionally, dates nutrition facts suggest that these dried fruits have good calorie content, and a handful of them can provide adequate nutrients to the mother and the baby. Furthermore, it is an ideal snack because its sugars break down to provide the optimum amount of energy without raising blood sugar levels (1). This post will tell you more about eating dates during pregnancy, their safety, and benefits.
How Does Eating Dates Help In Labor?
Studies show that eating dates during the last few weeks of pregnancy can have positive effects on labor and delivery. Evidence from randomized control trials has shown that consuming date fruit could help in the ripening of the cervix, which may reduce the duration of labor, thus reducing the need for oxytocin and prostaglandins to induce labor (1).
High sugar content in dates can provide energy during labor, and it may help to promote uterine contractions by increasing the sensitivity of the uterus to oxytocin. Eating dates may ease the labor as well as reduce the incidence of postpartum hemorrhage (2) (3).
Nutrition Facts About Dates
One hundred grams of iron provides 277Kcal of energy and contains 1.8g protein and 6.7g fiber. The quantity of other essential nutrients per 100g of dates are mentioned here (4).
|RDA per day (5)||Per 100g|
Benefits Of Dates During Pregnancy
Here are a few specific benefits of eating dates during pregnancy:
- Provide energy: During pregnancy, you need more energy than usual. Consuming a handful of dates every day will supply the required sugars, along with other nutrients (6).
- Relief from constipation: As dates are rich sources of fiber, they keep the digestive system healthy and help to relieve pregnancy-related constipation. They make the tummy full, reduce cholesterol levels, and help maintain a healthy weight (6) (7) (8).
- Proteins produce amino acids: Dates can provide some amount of proteins to the diet, which is required to build amino acids needed for body growth.
- Helps in preventing birth defects: Dates are a good source of folate. Folate prevents congenital defects related to the brain and spinal cord. CDC recommends folate supplements and intake of folate-rich foods before and during pregnancy, to prevent congenital disabilities (9).
- Vitamin K for the baby: Babies are born with low Vitamin K, which aids in clotting and bone development. If the mother consumes dates during and after pregnancy, the baby may get some amount of this vitamin through breastmilk.
- Contains iron: Dates contain some amount of iron and may aid in the prevention of anemia during pregnancy. Iron maintains hemoglobin in the body and strengthens both yours and your baby’s immunity.
- Maintains water-salt balance: Dates contain potassium, which maintains water-salt balance, regulates blood pressure, and avoids muscle cramps (10). The deficiency of this mineral could increase the risk of blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke.
- Bones and teeth in the baby: Magnesium is another essential mineral as it helps in the formation of teeth and bones in the baby. It also regulates your blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Dates help in preventing magnesium deficiency in pregnancy, which may otherwise increase the risk of chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, placental dysfunction, and premature labor (11).
When To Eat Dates During Pregnancy?
Dates can be eaten at any stage of gestation. You only need to be cautious about the amount you eat.
- In the first trimester, constipation is a common problem, and dates help prevent it. However, it is good to eat them in moderation in early pregnancy, especially if you have blood sugar problems or group B strep.
- In the second trimester, you are at a high risk of developing gestational diabetes. You need to take your doctor’s opinion when planning to include them in your diet.
- In the third trimester, eating dates can make your labor shorter and easier. Pregnant women can eat six dates a day starting from the 36th week, which is four weeks before the estimated due date (1).
Some women avoid dates during summer as they are believed to produce heat and upset stomach or body temperature. But this is not scientifically proven.
Side Effects Of Eating Too Many Dates During Pregnancy
Dates do not have any side effects when taken in moderation. However, if you overeat them, they may cause:
- Excessive gestational weight
- Increased blood sugar
- Risk of developing gestational diabetes
- Tooth decay in case of poor oral hygiene
How To Eat Dates During Pregnancy?
Dates can be eaten in many ways.
- Smoothie: Dates with yogurt can be a great smoothie combo.
- Dessert: Add dates to couscous (steamed balls of semolina) along with sesame and pure honey.
- Syrup: Mix dates and some milk in a blender and drizzle it over ice cream, wheat waffles, toast, or oatmeal.
- Sweetener: It can be an excellent replacement for sugar in milk or juices.
- Pie crust: Puree dates and nuts in a blender and mix with pie crust dough.
- Salad dressing: Stuff dates with peanut butter and mix in a salad of your choice.
- Cookies and bars: Add in cookies, muffins, or bars for a chewy texture.
- Stuffed dates: Remove the pit and add nuts of your choice with peanut butter.
- Wraps: Dates, chicken or tuna, and other vegetables wrapped in a wheat pita or tortilla are great.
- Date parfait: Mix dates and all your favorite fruits to make a yummy parfait.
There are numerous varieties of dates such as red, black, soft, dry, and more, sold worldwide. Soft dates are very sweet and are rich in moisture. Semi-dry dates are less sweet and chewier. Dry dates are usually used in baking and usually not eaten raw. Dry, soft, or any other texture, dates make healthy and delicious snacks.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it safe to consume Medjool dates during pregnancy?
Medjool dates are rich sources of several nutrients and vitamins that are essential for pregnant women. They are an excellent source of carbohydrates and fiber and have a low-fat content. They are rich in vitamins, including niacin, folate, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamins A and K.
All of these play a vital role in metabolism and aid in the baby’s growth and development. Dates are also a good source of minerals such as potassium and iron. They may help in the reduction of LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues. Dates, in general, are rich in antioxidants and may prevent cancerous growths (12).
2. Can you eat Chinese red dates during pregnancy?
Chinese red dates, also known as Jujube fruit, are high in iron and therefore help to prevent anemia in pregnant women and babies. They improve the nutritional quality of a mother’s milk and prevent hemorrhages after delivery. You can find more details on Chinese red dates in Chinese Dates: A Traditional Functional Food (13).
Knowing dates’ nutrition facts can help you understand the benefits of consuming it during pregnancy. They can help curb your sugar craving while providing protein, iron, magnesium, folate. It is known to maintain water-salt balance and its fiber content helps ease constipation. When taken in the third trimester, dates may aid in the ripening of the cervix and ease labor. However, overeating dates may cause weight gain or increase the risk of gestational diabetes. So do take your doctor’s suggestion to know how much you may consume to avoid any untoward effect.
2. Al-Kuran O et al.; The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery.
3. Razali N, et al.; Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery.
4. Dates, Medjool; USDA
5. Micronutrient Needs During Pregnancy and Lactation; Oregon State University
6. Al-Farsi MA and Lee CY.; Nutritional and functional properties of dates: a review.
7. Abdellaziz Souli, et al.; Effects of Dates Pulp Extract and Palm Sap (Phoenix dactylifera L.) on Gastrointestinal Transit Activity in Healthy Rats
8. Alqarni MMM, et al.; Antioxidant and antihyperlipidemic effects of Ajwa date (Phoenix dactylifera L.) extracts in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet.
9. Folic Acid; CDC
10. Role of Potassium in Maintaining Health; Periodic Paralysis International
11. E Zarean, A Tarjan; Effect of Magnesium Supplement on Pregnancy Outcomes: A Randomized Control Trial; Adv Biomed Res
12. Arshad Rahmani et al.; Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity; International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
13. Chinese Dates: A Traditional Functional Food
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Moloko Mehlape(MSc Dietetics)
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