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Catherine began eating about six to seven dates every day as soon as she entered the ninth month of her pregnancy. The result – she had a smooth labor and a normal delivery. But how could dates help in an easy labor? What secrets do they hold for pregnancy? If you are fond of dates but not sure if you can eat them during pregnancy, then you must read this post by MomJunction.
Is It Safe To Eat Dates During Pregnancy?
Yes, dates are safe and beneficial to the mother and baby. The fructose sugars in dates break down quickly offering energy without altering blood sugar levels in the body. They also have laxative properties, which stimulate contractions in the uterus and shorten labor (1).
What Does Research Say About Dates During Pregnancy?
“Consuming dates during late pregnancy affects labor and delivery positively without causing any risk to the mother and the child.” — Pubmed journal (2).
So, why are dates good during pregnancy?
Nutrition Facts About Dates:
The quantity of essential nutrients per 100g of dates (3) are:
Benefits Of Dates During Pregnancy:
Now we know that dates are highly nutritious as they are high in proteins, fiber, and vitamins, which aid in easy and healthy 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 without adding extra calories.
- Keep constipation away: As dates are rich sources of fiber, they keep the digestive system healthy and treat pregnancy-related constipation. They make the tummy full, reduce cholesterol levels, and help maintain a healthy weight.
- Proteins produce amino acids: Dates provide sufficient amount of proteins required by your body to build amino acids, which are essential for body growth.
- Helps in preventing birth defects: Dates are a good source of folate. Folate prevents birth defects related to the brain and spinal cord.
- Vitamin K boost to the baby: Babies are born with low Vitamin K. If the mother consumes dates, they meet the requirement of the vitamin when the baby breastfeeds. Vitamin K aids in clotting and bone development.
- Prevents anemia: Dates can provide you with the iron content required during pregnancy to keep anemia at bay. 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. Deficiency of this mineral could lead to kidney related issues.
- 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 which may otherwise cause liver and kidney abnormalities.
How Does Eating Dates Help In Labor?
Dates boost the oxytocin effect (contraction of the womb), which increases the sensitivity of the uterus. The saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in the fruit supply energy and produce prostaglandins required for labor (4). Also, the serotonin, calcium, and tannin present in dates help in the contraction of uterine muscles (5).
How To Eat Dates During Pregnancy?
Dates can be eaten in many ways.
- Smoothie: Dates with yogurt can 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 a great 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 are not eaten raw. Dry, soft, or any other texture, dates make healthy and delicious snacks.
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, that is four weeks before the estimated due date.
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.
Harmful Effects Of 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
- Risk of developing gestational diabetes
- Tooth decay in case of poor oral hygiene
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Are Medjool dates safe during pregnancy?
Medjool dates have all the nutrients and vitamins essential for pregnant women. They are an excellent source of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, and fiber, and have low fat content. They are rich in vitamins including niacin, folate, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamins A, C, and K. All of these play a vital role in metabolism and aid in the baby’s growth and development. The iron content reduces bad cholesterol and thus reduces the risk of cardiovascular issues. They are rich in antioxidants and prevent cancerous growths.
2. Can you eat Chinese red dates during pregnancy?
Chinese red dates 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 could find more details on Chinese red dates in Chinese Dates: A Traditional Functional Food (6).
Though dates are a storehouse of goodness, do take your doctor’s opinion on how, when, and how much to consume.