Dates are regarded as a superfood because they provide a wide range of essential nutrients and potential health benefits. Due to these, they are becoming increasingly popular among health-conscious individuals.
Since they are naturally sweet, dates are often used to improve the taste of stews, salads, juices, nutrition bars, baked goods, and smoothies, or they can just be eaten directly. Regardless of how they are ingested, dates are good for you. But do dates cause diarrhea? Read on to find out!
Dates: Background Info
Dates are the sweet rich-tasting fruit of the date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera) that are said to originate from Iran through Egypt. Each date can contain from 60 to 70 percent sugar which makes it an ideal energy booster. Dates can be found in many tropical areas around the world and have become quite popular in Western countries in recent years.
Dates are said to be the oldest cultivated fruit in the world having been grown for 6000 years in the Middle East. There has even been fossil evidence of date palm trees going from as far back as 50 million years ago! The fruit of the date palm tree has been part of the ancient people’s diet since 5000 to 6000 B.C.E. They called the date palm ‘the tree of life’ and all parts of the tree from the trunk to the leaves are utilized.
Here are the nutrition facts of a 160-gram (approximately one-third of a cup) serving of dried dates with the respective recommended daily values based on a 2000-calorie per day diet:
Total Fat 0.6g (1% of DV)
Total Carbohydrate 120g (44% of DV)
Dietary Fiber 16g (46%)
Protein 3.9g (8% of DV)
Cholesterol 0mg (0% of DV)
Sodium 3.2mg (0% of DV)
Calcium 62mg (5% of DV)
Phosphorus 99.2mg (8% of DV)
Iron 1.6mg (9% of DV)
Copper 0.33mg (37% of DV)
Magnesium 68.8mg (16% of DV)
Potassium 1050mg (22% of DV)
Zinc 0.46mg (4% of DV)
Vitamin D 0mcg (0% of DV)
Folate 30.4mcg (8% of DV)
Selenium 4.8mcg (9% of DV)
A 2008 study conducted by Cornell researchers Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi and Chang Yong Lee and published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition revealed that over 15% of the daily requirement of essential minerals potassium, magnesium, copper, and selenium can be attained by consuming around 4 pitted dates (100 grams) per day.
In addition, you may not need to take multivitamin supplements when you eat dates frequently. This is because dates are chock-full of highly beneficial vitamins so they can give you sufficient quantities of vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate, and vitamin K, to name a few.
Dates are often eaten as desserts because of their naturally sweet and rich flavor. But what most people do not realize is that dates, especially dried dates, offer an impressive array of health benefits. Here are some ways that dates can be good for you:
- Loaded with antioxidants
- Have anti-inflammatory properties
- Detoxifies the body
- Good source of energy
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve constipation
- Promotes bone health
- Regulates blood sugar
- Increases iron for blood supply
- Prevents heart disease
- Reduces cancer risks
- Boosts brain health
- Helps induce natural labor
It is important to take note that dates are quite high in sugar and calories so excessive consumption may well result in weight gain and other health issues. Therefore, you must keep your intake in moderation and incorporate them as part of a healthy balanced diet to maximize their potential health benefits. For the same reason, too many dates can lead to digestive discomfort.
Do Dates Cause Diarrhea?
One of these discomforts is diarrhea. Diarrhea is the uncomfortable, unformed, watery stool that we experience every now and then. Sometimes, they occur due to an underlying health condition, as a side effect of medication, but mostly because of something you have eaten.
In this regard, do dates cause diarrhea? Dates are a natural laxative that helps treat constipation. Therefore, eating too many dates can make you go the other way and give you diarrhea. Here are some reasons why:
Dates are high in sugar.
Sugar is a type of soluble carbohydrate that is used to sweeten food. Dates have high sugar content and sugar, like any carbohydrate, is processed by the body and used for fuel and energy. In fact, a review published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition suggests eating dates whenever you need a quick energy boost as positive results can be gained in as little as 30 minutes!
However, excessive intake of sugar, whether natural or artificial (sugar substitutes like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose) can cause you to develop diarrhea. Sugars trigger the gut to pull in water and electrolytes which, in turn, loosen bowel movement.
But how much sugar is acceptable? The American Heart Association suggests the maximum daily limit for sugar at 100 calories (24 grams or 6 teaspoons) for women and 150 calories (36 grams or 9 teaspoons) for men. A 160-gram serving of dates contains 101 grams of sugar.
The natural sugars contained in dates include glucose, sucrose, and fructose. One of the main culprits that cause diarrhea is fructose, which is naturally found in fruits like peaches, cherries, apples, and watermelon. Many people who consume more than 40 to 80 grams of fructose daily are bound to experience bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea especially if they suffer from fructose intolerance.
Dates are high in potassium.
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps to support good heart health, maintain fluid balance, and build muscle and proteins in the body. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, the adequate daily intake for potassium is 3400 milligrams for men and 2600 milligrams for women. However, nearly 98% of adults in the US do not meet these requirements.
Surprisingly, when you consume more than the recommended amounts of potassium per day, it doesn’t seem to give any extra health benefits, but one thing you may get is diarrhea. Excessive potassium can irritate the GI tract. When this happens, the intestinal muscles contract too hard so that the digested food passes through faster than normal which results in gas and diarrhea.
Dates are rich in magnesium.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for certain parts of the body such as the heart, muscles, bones, and nerves to function properly. The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements’ recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium is 400 to 420 milligrams for men and 310 to 320 milligrams for women.
Magnesium neutralizes stomach acids and helps with digestion, but it has laxative properties because it stimulates the intestines to draw in water and encourages bowel motility. In fact, consuming magnesium in excessive amounts may make you end up with diarrhea.
The Downside Of Dates
Just as there are a lot of reasons why dates can offer many benefits to the body, they also have accompanying disadvantages. Here are some of the potentially harmful effects of dates:
- Stomach issues
- Weight gain
- Dental issues
- Skin rashes
- Asthma attacks
Dates are considered to be a superfruit because of their impressive list of nutrients and benefits to the body. However, most people are not aware of the potentially harmful side effects. Excessive intake of dates can even cause serious health problems. It is best to eat them in moderation to ensure a safe margin.
On the other hand, do dates cause diarrhea? The answer is yes, but the potential health benefits that this delicious fruit offers more than make up for a little discomfort.