Aside being a power house for natural sugar, the fascinating golden yellow colour of date fruit makes it more irresistible to many people. Scientifically called Phoenix dactylifera, and commonly known as Dabino by the Hausa tribe, dates fruit belongs to the tree palm family Arecaceae.
Examining the nutritional benefits of this nourishing fruit to humans, scientists from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Federal University Dutse, Jigawa State, Nigeria, have found the multiple health benefits of the wonder fruit as a treatment substance for infertility in men, brain health booster and others.
The researchers, including I. S. Sadiq; T. Izuagie; M. Shuaibu; A. I. Dogoyaro; and A. Garba, found the importance of date fruit to the human system, as it contained vital phytochemicals such as sterols, triterpenes, saponins, proteins, carbohydrates, and glycosides and lack volatile substances.
Furthermore, another study published on biorxiv.org affirmed the potentials of the fruit in treating infertility in men. The investigation titled:”Effects of date fruit (Phoenix dactylifera) on sperm cell morphology and reproductive hormonal profiles in cypermethrin-induced male infertility” conducted by scientists from the University of Abuja, examined 42 Male Wister rats (180 – 220 g and aged 14 – 16 weeks) that were acclamatised to the study environment for 3 weeks prior to the commencement of the experiments. Standard plastic cages were used to house the animals and these were placed under 12:12 hour light: dark cycle. Food and water were provided ad libitum.
At the end of the study, it was established that the administration of combined date fruit extracts and cypermethrin on a separate group showed a consistently reduced percentage of anatomically abnormal sperm cells and a general improvement of sperm motility and mass activity.
In a recent publication by MedicalNewsToday other benefits and nutritional components of date fruit were highlighted as follows:
They may help treat infertility
In traditional African medicine practices, people have long used dates to treat male infertility. However, there is scarce scientific research to support their effectiveness for this purpose, according to one study. This study is yet to undergo peer review.
The researchers tested the effects of dates on the fertility of rats with neurotoxin-induced infertility.
The dates reduced signs of infertility in the rats, but they also reduced levels of the hormone testosterone, which is linked to fertility.
The researchers suggest that future studies should try to identify a safe amount of dates for treating infertility.
Scientists need to do much more research into the effects of dates on fertility in humans before they can make any recommendations about using dates for this purpose.
They may boost brain health
A scientific review from 2016 notes that some studies have linked regular date consumption to better thinking skills and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s impairs memory and the ability to think. The review suggests that long-term use of date fruit supplements in rodents was associated with reduced plaque formation in the brain. These plaques are characteristic in people with Alzheimer’s.
They may help alleviate chronic disease due to their antioxidants
Unstable molecules called free radicals can cause a process known as oxidative stress.
Scientists believe that oxidative stress plays a role in the development of certain chronic conditions. These include cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.
Dates have strong antioxidant properties with the potential to improve chronic conditions.
They may increase skin health
Topical creams containing dates may improve skin health.
Research suggests that the application of date creams to the skin can improve skin moisture content, elasticity, and brightness. The authors also note that dates in skin care may reduce the effects of aging on the skin.
None of the participants using the cream reported side effects, and the dates appeared to be safe for use on the skin.
They may help with diabetes
Diabetes involves reduced blood sugar control. A scientific review that analyzed the available research on the topic suggests that dates have the potential to treat diabetes due to their antioxidant content.
Some studies in the review indicate that dates can improve the function of the pancreas in secreting insulin, which is the hormone that helps maintain normal blood sugar levels. Other studies indicate that dates may help with the complications of diabetes.
In addition, dates are high in fiber, meaning that the body absorbs them slowly during digestion. This helps keep a person’s blood sugar levels stable. High blood sugar levels can be a chronic issue in people with diabetes.
The fiber in dates can also help with other conditions.
One study suggests that dietary fiber can help protect against diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, fiber may help reduce the risk of conditions involving the gastrointestinal tract, such as constipation, colon cancer, and ulcers.
Risks and considerations
Dates are a nutrient-rich type of fruit that may have various health benefits. The only possible drawback is that they are high in sugar, according to one study.
People who are trying to moderate their daily calorie intake may wish to limit their intake of dates because they are calorie dense.
Despite the fruit’s sugar content, the study authors say that low-to-moderate consumption is likely safe for anyone, including people with diabetes. This is because the fiber in dates causes the body to digest them slowly, helping prevent unhealthy blood sugar spikes.
However, a person wishing to take supplements containing dates should consult a doctor first. This is because supplements may not always provide the same health benefits as food.