What are the Health Benefits of Eating Dates?

By Emily Henderson, B.Sc.


Dates are one of the best ingredients for a daily diet because of their numerous health benefit. The date palm (Phoenix Dactylifera L.) is widely grown in hot, dry locations, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa, and supplies nutrition, food security, and raw material to the food industry. It has been a staple food for generations and possesses several health benefits.

Nutritional value

Dates are a natural reservoir of sugars such as sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Fresh dates have about 157 calories per 100 grams, and dry dates have more than 300 calories per 100 grams. Dates include extra nutritional components in the form of proteins, crude fiber, lipids, and antioxidants in addition to their high natural sugar content, making them a functional food with substantial health advantages.

Dates are extremely sweet, containing between 50 and 88 percent of their total weight depending on the cultivar, ripening stage, and overall moisture content.

The predominant sugars in dates are fructose and glucose, which make up two-thirds of the overall fleshy content. Water accounts for one-fifth of the whole fleshy makeup, and the remaining (small) amount is dietary fibers. Protein, lipids, crude fiber, minerals, vitamins (particularly vitamin B), and tannins are also abundant in dates. Dates have significant nutritional content and can thus assist in meeting human dietary requirements.

Date flesh contains between 0.2 and 0.5% oil, whereas the seed or pit contains 7.7–9.7%. The primary unsaturated fatty acids include palmitoleic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids. The oleic acid concentration of date seeds fluctuates between 41.1% and 58.8%, making them a possible source of oleic acid.

Dates contain 23 different types of amino acids, some of which are missing from popular fruits like oranges, peaches, grapes, and apples. A small quantity of vitamin C, vitamin B(1) thiamine, B(2) riboflavin, nicotinic acid (niacin), and vitamin A are also present in them.

Dates – classification

Dates are divided into four groups based on their sugar content. Dates of the first class are high in sucrose (40-65%). These have a glucose and fructose content of 20-40% and water content of 10-25%. The dates in the second class are high in glucose and fructose (40-75%) but low in sucrose (10-35%).

The dates in the third class have a water content of 10-35%, glucose and fructose content of 65-90%, and sucrose content of 0-10%. Dates from fourth grade have a lot of water in them (35-65%). These have a 35-37% glucose and fructose content, with no sucrose.

Dates – proportion of minerals

Dates are a good source of potassium, magnesium, copper, and selenium, among other minerals. A 100g serving of dates provides around 15% of the recommended daily intake for these minerals. Dates contain moderate amounts of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and manganese, and 100 g of dates can provide around 7% of the recommended daily consumption of these elements. Dates are great for patients with hypertension since they are low in sodium and high in potassium. Boron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc are some of the other minerals and salts found in varying amounts.

In addition, the seeds contain varying amounts of aluminum, cadmium, chloride, lead, and sulfur. Dates contain elemental fluorine, which helps to keep teeth healthy and free of disease. Dates also contain selenium, a mineral that is thought to help prevent cancer and is vital for immunological function.

Phytochemicals in dates

Fruits’ anti-inflammatory properties are ascribed to phytochemicals, which are bioactive non-nutrient found in combination with secondary plant metabolites or essential cellular components.

Researchers and physicians are increasingly interested in phytochemicals because of their antioxidant activity, cholesterol-lowering qualities, and other possible health benefits such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease prevention. Carotenoids, polyphenols, isoflavones, lignins, tannins, and sterols are some of the bioactive components present in date fruits.

However, there is still little research on the comprehensive identification, characterization, and quantification of phytochemicals in various date types at various phases of fruit ripening. The amount and content of phytochemicals found in date fruits vary greatly depending on the date variety, stage of maturation, storage, postharvest processing, hydration, analytical settings, and geographical origin of dates.

Some major health benefits

Date palm trees have been feeding people as a source of energy, nutrition security, and healthy fruit for the previous 5000 years in the worst climatic conditions. The following are some of the health benefits of date fruits. Soft, easily digested flesh and simple carbohydrates like fructose and dextrose make up fresh dates.

When consumed, they rapidly replenish energy and invigorate the body. Tannins, a type of health-promoting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidant, have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevents easy bleeding) effects.

Antioxidant flavonoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin can protect cells and other biological structures from the detrimental effects of oxygen-free radicals. As a result, consuming dates have been reported to provide some protection against malignancies of the colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreas. Zea-xanthin protects against age-related macular degeneration, which is common among the elderly. Potassium is an essential component of cell and body fluids, assisting in the regulation of heart rhythm and blood pressure, and so protecting against stroke and coronary heart disease.

Dates have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral characteristics, as well as the ability to prevent chronic inflammation and other disorders, due to their high phenolic content. Due to their high fiber and phenolic content, dates can aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and immune system regulation.

Due to their anti-allergic immunomodulatory properties, phenolics produced from dates can reduce the hypersensitive immunological response. Anti-inflammatory reactions are induced by the regulation of proinflammatory pathways, which is one of phenolics’ immunomodulatory properties.

Dates can serve as an important food in the human diet and, they can play a significant part in human health and nutrition due to their unique nutritional content. Dates include a variety of functional and bioactive substances such as carotenoids, anthocyanins, phenolics, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, all of which have anti-tumor, anti-ulcer, anti-microbial, and immuno-modulatory characteristics.

Furthermore, dates are regarded as a nutraceutical and functional food. When compared to the regular diet, a few dates can satisfy our daily nutrient needs. As a result, date consumption is strongly encouraged.


  • Amira A. Ayad, Leonard L. Williams, Deiaa A. Gad El-Rab, Raphael Ayivi, Heather L. Colleran, Sulaiman Aljaloud & Salam A. Ibrahim | Fatih Yildiz (Reviewing editor) (2020) A review of the chemical composition, nutritional and health benefits of dates for their potential use in energy nutrition bars for athletes, Cogent Food & Agriculture, 6:1, DOI:10.1080/23311932.2020.1809309
  • Nasir MU, Hussain S, Jabbar S, Rahid F, Khalid N, Mehmood A. (2015). A review on the nutritional content, functional properties and medicinal potential of dates. Sci Lett,3(1):17-22.
  • Jain, M., S. (2013). Health Benefits of date palm: phytochemicals and their functions. [online] University of Helsinki. Available at: https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/42985/Jain._Health_benefits.pdf?sequence=2

The heart of a bio-circular economy: Date palm

Dr Zaid, Secretary-General of Khalifa International Award for Date Palm & Agricultural Innovation and Dr Sandra Piesik, Founder of 3 Ideas B.V.


We are now in a new age for sustainability. This year marks a shift in how we view sustainability and our individual actions to becoming more sustainable have been welcomed with open arms. It’s the year that the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) has finally begun, with high profile countries and business putting the issue back on the world stage. And, as vaccines continue to be rolled out and lockdowns ease, we remain hopeful that it is the year where all countries finally emerge from COVID-19.

Focusing on the last point is vital. With the World Economic Forum branding it as ‘The Great Reset’, there is an urgent need for global stakeholders to cooperate in simultaneously managing the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis and shining a light on a green recovery. We can’t go back to how it used to be.

Economic growth and the fight against climate change need to go hand in hand. The key to achieving this is a bio-circular economy. Building a bio-circular economy, where everything that is extracted from nature returns to nature, will ensure that national economies and industries have the ability to rebuild in a green and more sustainable way. At the heart of this is date palm.

Returning nature to nature

Over the last twelve months, we’ve seen global economies come to a grinding halt as a result of the pandemic. With this, we’ve seen dramatic drops in COlevels. In 2020, global COemissions dropped by 6.4%. These are positive statistics, but they’re not sustainable if we return to ‘business as usual’ once we are able to. We’ve already seen carbon dioxide levels creep back up as cars return to the roads, employees to the office and factories start functioning at full throttle once more.

As the world continues to return to normal, the traditional ‘manufacture, use and dispose’ economy must be replaced by a bio-circular model, where everything that is extracted from nature returns to nature. This will allow the global economy to rebuild, but in a sustainable way.

The date palm industry has huge potential to lead the way in this shift to a bio-circular global economy. Cultivation and preservation of date palm can have a positive global impact, across an array of industries and from both a socio-economic and environmental perspective.

Unlocking the true potential of date palm

Global date palm production is estimated at eight million tonnes annually. Owing to its health benefits, stemming from nutrients such as fibre and antioxidants, date palm is used in a variety of products around the world. As such, it is already a booming and lucrative industry. However, its true potential is yet to be realised.

Currently, the date palm industry creates a huge amount of unnecessary waste. Per tree, there is an average of 23 kilos of waste per year, which contributes to environmental pollution. This can be cut down to zero, as second-class dates can be used in consumer products such as chopped dates, date paste and date honey. Meanwhile, date palm fibre can be used to make ropes, thermal insulation and evaporative cooling equipment. Its industry-wide usage means that the waste currently created by the date palm industry can be turned into sustainable business, profit and jobs across the world.

Its impact will be felt most keenly in the MENA region, though, where 90% of date palm production takes place. Minimising and ultimately eliminating waste from the date palm industry will require skills, technology and new jobs. This will bring both wealth and investment to the region and, most importantly, to lower-income countries. In turn, this will help to tackle systemic issues such as poverty and food poverty.

This impact has already been felt in some regions, such as in Namibia. Recognising the potential of date palm, the Namibian Government started a project which ended with 75,000 date palm trees being planted, with many of these going to lower-income families. For these families, and for the country, the project helped to increase food security and generate income.

However, to make this a reality, the knowledge of local farmers and technicians had to be improved, which was done through training courses and study tours. By offering these courses, and bolstering the date palm industry in Namibia, employment levels also rose in the region. This was a long project, which took place between January 1998 and December 2016. It’s a process that could be much faster with the assistance of modern technology, though.

An example of how technology can speed up the process is in India and Myanmar. In both of these countries, there has been a dedicated effort to plant more trees to tackle deforestation. Between the two countries, there is an aim of planting one billion trees by 2030. So far, there have been 15 million trees planted. This has been done with the help of AI-powered drones which can plant 100,000 trees per day. This technology could similarly be used to plant date palm trees. This would help to bring modern technology such as AI and machine learning to these regions and create more jobs. This would also help to discourage migration away from these countries, which can lead to what’s called ‘brain drain’ in economics. This, in turn, would help lower-income countries to boost their economies.

Linking the rural with the urban

 As urban populations continue to grow across the world, rural spaces are coming under increasing pressure. Within cities themselves, green spaces are becoming increasingly sparse, often being replaced by industrial buildings or housing. Meanwhile, urban areas are growing outwards and into traditionally rural areas. In too many cases, this is resulting in deforestation.

Moving forward, there must be a greater connection between rural and urban. This is particularly true given the dependency cities have on rural areas and vice versa. Therefore, as cities continue to grow, there must be greater consideration into how rural areas can be preserved and integrated into the development of urban areas. Green buildings are a great example of this. This is when new builds, such as office spaces, are built with nature infused into them. Nature can then be leveraged to create more natural heating and cooling methods, which benefits the planet and reduces costs for businesses.

Date palm oasis ecosystem emphasises the importance of linking the rural with the urban. Date palm trees can absorb huge concentrations of CO2. In fact, every tree can absorb 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide every year. That means, in the MENA region alone, the 100 million date palm trees could absorb 28.7 megatons of COper year. Naturally, this will help to keep carbon dioxide levels down and turn the tide on climate change. However, they need to be preserved and protected if this is to be a continued reality. Focusing all efforts to link rural, peri-urban and urban areas will ultimately produce new jobs with a clear aim towards protecting the planet and building out the bio-circular economy. However, this shouldn’t be solely adopted in the MENA region and needs to be rolled out internationally to achieve fundamental change. As societies continue to grow and economies slowly rebuild, there needs to be a constant link back to nature. This is the only way we can create a more sustainable, healthier and wealthier society. To accomplish this, North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation will be essential, as well as acknowledging and enacting the Agenda 2030 objectives.


Date palm key to climate revolution

BY : Susan Robertson

On 22nd February 2021


The conservation of date palm is critical to reducing global inequality and creating a more sustainable world, according to a new report.

The Khalifa Award report‘Bridging boundaries: how can bio-regional collaboration convert the date palm industry into a successful model of the bio-circular economy?’ is ‘framed around ‘the five Ps’: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships, which shape the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. And is a call to action for political and industry leaders to prioritise the importance of date palm ecosystems, particularly in the MENA region, as a driver for positive change for people and planet, as well as a range of business sectors.

The genetic diversity of date palms means they are resistant to extreme weather conditions like intense heat, droughts and floods, which can hit harvest yields and destroy natural resources, especially in lower income countries. Properly managed date palm ecosystems are also critical in reversing desertification in desert regions, due to their role in providing habitat, shade and protection from wind and heat for other species. And by scaling up restoration efforts their social impact can help alleviate the scourge of poverty and food insecurity, as well as create jobs.

With input from 46 contributors spanning 21 countries, including renowned adaptation experts like Dr Youssef Nassef, Director of Adaptation Programme UNFCCC, this report can function as a guidebook for leaders facing major climate challenges: ‘COemissions, biodiversity, desertification, drought and land degradation’.

One of the report’s co-editors, Dr. Abdelouahhab Zaid, FAO Goodwill Ambassador in UAE, and Secretary General of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation said: “It may not be widely recognised yet, but date palm is essential to sustainable living. Through the conservation and growth of date palm trees, we can overcome environmental, societal and economic challenges. As mentioned in the report, each date palm tree can absorb around 200 kilograms of CO2 per year. This means that the 100 million trees in the MENA region have the capacity to absorb around 28.7 megatons of CO2 per year.

Reflecting on the post-pandemic Green Recovery opportunities, Dr Sandra Piesik, who co-edited the report alongside Dr. Zaid, added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed unresolved pre-pandemic challenges involving the national food security of individual countries during national lockdowns. Therefore, the pursuit of a self-sustainable developmental model serves both planetary and human health.

“To achieve this, North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation will be crucial, in line with SDG 17, which aims to enhance international cooperation when implementing sustainable initiatives. As a result, we urge governing bodies and industry leaders across the world to read the report, work together and take the appropriate action. It will save lives, livelihoods and fundamentally, our planet.”