Dates are a sweet, chewy fruit produced by the date palm tree, native to North Africa and the Middle East (1).
There are more than 200 hundred varieties of dates available worldwide, but the deglet noor and medjool varieties are the most common in the United States (1, 2).
These unique fruits are known for their caramel-like flavor and sticky texture, which makes them ideal for use in granola bars, baked goods, and other snacks.
You may have heard that eating dates will give you healthy, glowing skin. But is that really true? Keep reading to find out!
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualified purchases.
What nutrients do dates provide?
Dates aren’t just a sweet, delicious treat — they’re also packed full of health-promoting minerals and fiber.
A 50-gram serving (about 7 deglet noor dates) provides the following nutrients (3, 4):
- Calories: 140
- Carbs: 37 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Calcium: 19 mg (1% DV)
- Iron: 0.5 mg (3% DV)
- Magnesium: 21 mg (5% DV)
- Phosphorus: 31 mg (2% DV)
- Potassium: 326 mg (7% DV)
- Zinc: 0.1 mg (1% DV)
- Copper: 0.1 mg (11% DV)
- Selenium: 1.5 mcg (3% DV)
- Manganese: 0.1 mg (6% DV)
- Vitamin C: 0.2 mg (<1% DV)
- Pantothenic acid: 0.3 mg (6% DV)
Medjool dates have a very similar nutrition profile. The main difference is their larger size, which means you’ll only get about 2 dates per 50-gram portion (5).
Benefits of dates for skin health
Unfortunately, there isn’t a TON of research showing the effects of dates on skin health, but I’ve listed a couple of potential benefits below.
1. May help improve acne
Dates have a glycemic index of 42, which is considered low (6).
The glycemic index is a ranking system that classifies carbohydrate-containing foods by their effect on blood sugar levels (7).
Low glycemic foods are slowly digested and absorbed, resulting in a steady rise and fall in blood sugar levels (7).
High glycemic foods, on the other hand, are quickly absorbed, causing blood sugars to spike suddenly and then quickly drop, kind of like a rollercoaster (7).
These dramatic changes in blood sugar levels can leave you feeling exhausted, and can potentially contribute to the development of acne (8, 9).
Research shows that a diet providing mostly low-glycemic foods can reduce the number of acne lesions (AKA, pimples) in people with moderate or severe acne (10, 11, 12, 13).
This happens because a low-glycemic diet reduces levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is thought to be one of the main causes of acne (9, 14).
If you’re struggling with acne, try replacing high-glycemic snacks, like granola bars and bananas, with a few dates and a handful of nuts (6).
Just remember to keep your portion size small — dates are still high in sugar and carbohydrates, so it’s easy to overdo it.
2. May reduce wrinkles
There’s some VERY limited evidence suggesting that skincare products made with date extract might help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
An older (2002) study of 10 middle-aged women found that an under eye cream made with 5% date palm kernel extract (DPKE) significantly reduced wrinkles when applied twice a day for 5 weeks (15).
A 2019 trial involving 43 healthy volunteers showed similar improvements in wrinkles, skin hydration, and elasticity when a 5% DPKE cream was applied to the entire face for 8 weeks (16).
These results are promising, but I wouldn’t recommend rushing to buy a bunch of expensive date skincare products anytime soon. More research is needed.
It’s also unlikely that eating dates would have the same effects.
3. May protect against skin damage
Dates are a rich source of antioxidants, such as flavonoids like quercetin, apigenin, and luteolin (1, 17)
Antioxidants protect the body against free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells and increase the risk of many chronic diseases (18, 19).
Currently, there aren’t many studies showing the effects of dates on skin health, but we do know that a diet rich in antioxidants can help protect the skin against damage caused by sunlight (20, 21).
Do dates have any other health benefits?
1. Helps relieve constipation
Dates are very high in fiber, with 4 grams per serving — that’s about 14% of the daily value (DV) (3, 4).
Over 90% of the fiber in dates comes from insoluble fiber, a type that helps add bulk to stool and acts as a laxative (22).
In a 2015 study, people who ate 7 dates everyday for 3 weeks had more frequent bowel movements compared to those who didn’t eat any dates (23).
More research is needed to confirm these effects, but so far the results are promising!
2. Promotes natural labor
There’s some evidence that eating dates during pregnancy may help to naturally induce labor (24).
In one clinical trial, women who consumed one serving of dates every day for 4 weeks leading up to their due date were less likely to require labor-inducing drugs like oxytocin (25).
Researchers aren’t sure why dates seem to have this effect, but for now it seems there’s no harm for pregnant women to snack on dates as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
3. May protect against Alzheimer’s
Research in animals suggests that dates may protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s (26, 27).
In one study, mice that were fed a diet rich in dates for 4 months showed a reduction in the level of amyloid-beta proteins, which are thought to be responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease (28).
Dates may also help to lower inflammatory cytokines (chemicals produced by the immune system that promote inflammation) in the brain (26).
There hasn’t been any research in humans yet, so it’s unclear if eating dates would have any noticeable benefits in people with Alzheimer’s.
Ways to add dates to your diet
Dates are incredibly easy to include in your diet.
They can be enjoyed as a snack with little or no preparation, or you can purchase a variety of convenient date products listed below.
1. Fresh or dried dates
Some varieties of dates are available fresh, but most are sold dried, because removing the extra moisture helps extend their shelf life (29).
Whole, unpitted dates have a large seed in the center that can be easily removed before eating — simply cut a slit along the side of the date and pop it out.
Here are some simple ways to enjoy them:
- Blend into smoothies and sauces as a natural sweetener.
- Pair with a handful of nuts for a convenient, nutritionally balanced snack.
- Chop into small pieces and add to baked goods like muffins and cookies.
- Use them to make energy balls or bars, along with nuts and spices.
- Stuff with nut butter and dip in melted chocolate for an easy dessert.
- Make date caramel to drizzle on oatmeal or stir into yogurt.
Fresh or dried dates are available whole, pitted, or chopped in most grocery stores, or you can purchase them online here and here.
2. Date paste
Date paste is made by soaking dates overnight in water, then blending them with more water until smooth and creamy.
It’s a convenient, time-saving option that can be stored in the fridge and used in a variety of ways:
- Mix it with almond butter and spread on whole grain toast.
- Stir into dressings and marinades as a natural sweetener.
- Swirl a tablespoon into your morning oatmeal for an added caramel-like flavor.
- Substitute for granulated sugar in baked goods like muffins and cookies.
- Use it to make energy balls quickly, without a blender or food processor.
Make your own date paste at home with a food processor, or purchase some online here.
3. Date syrup
Making date syrup is a fairly complicated process. It involves boiling chopped dates, then pureeing them and straining out the pulp.
The remaining liquid gets returned to a saucepan and simmered until it reaches a thick consistency, similar to honey.
Here are some fun ways to use date syrup in the kitchen:
- Drizzle on pancakes, waffles, or French toast as a syrup replacement.
- Stir into hot beverages like tea and coffee for a natural sweetener.
- Mix with olive oil and salt, then toss to coat vegetables before roasting.
- Use in place of hot fudge as an ice cream topping.
Purchase date syrup online here — it’s even available in different flavors (blueberry, cinnamon, or cocoa).
4. Date sugar
Date sugar is made from dates that are blended to form a paste, then dried and ground into a very fine powder that resembles brown sugar or coconut sugar (30).
You can substitute date sugar in pretty much any recipe that calls for granulated or brown sugar — simply use one cup of date sugar for every cup of regular sugar.
Some people prefer to use 2/3 cup of date sugar instead, because it’s very sweet and has a stronger flavor.
Keep in mind that date sugar doesn’t dissolve well in liquids, so it’s not a great choice for sweetening beverages.
You can find date sugar in health food stores or online here.
5. Date seed powder
Need a caffeine-free replacement for coffee? Try date seed powder!
It’s made from date seeds that have been dried, roasted, and ground into a fine powder that can be used to make hot beverages, similar to coffee or tea.
Some people also add the powder to smoothies and baked goods as a supplement, due to its high antioxidant and fiber content (31, 32).
Purchase date seed powder online here, or make your own using this recipe — all you need is some leftover date seeds, an oven, and a coffee grinder.
6. Other date products
There are also plenty of convenient (and delicious) food products made from dates. I’ve listed some of my favorites below:
- Date Lady Organic BBQ Sauce
- Date Lady Organic Sweet Chili Sauce
- Date Lady Organic Chocolate Date Spread
- Date Lady Organic Coconut Date Sauce
- Larabar Original Fruit & Nut Bars
Do you have any favorite date products that aren’t listed here? Let me know in the comments!
Dates are delicious and nutritious — packed with fiber to keep you feeling full, and essential minerals for overall health.
Due to their low glycemic index, these tasty fruits may help improve symptoms of acne when substituted for higher-glycemic foods like granola bars and sugary snacks.
More research is needed, but they may help protect against skin damage and reduce wrinkles due to their high antioxidant content.
Other potential health benefits of dates include preventing constipation, promoting natural labor, and protecting against Alzheimer’s disease.
To add dates to your diet, try snacking on whole dates dipped in your favorite nut butter, or get creative with date products like pastes, sugars, syrups, sauces, and even date seed powder.