The rumors are out there: eating dates during pregnancy can help you have an easier pregnancy and make delivery a breeze. But how much is truth, and how much is fiction?
We’ve dug into the nutritional science behind this potential pregnancy superfood, and we’re super excited to share how dates can benefit you during pregnancy. We’ll also discuss any negatives of this sweet and tasty fruit.
We’ll even reveal some of our favorite date recipes we discovered during this process so you can incorporate dates into your picky, craving-packed pregnancy diet.
- Eating dates during pregnancy is safe and provides important nutrients like potassium, vitamin K, fatty acids, and calcium.
- Consuming six dates daily in the last four weeks of pregnancy can help with dilation, intact membranes, and shorter labor.
- Dates can prevent anemia, improve energy, support baby’s growth, prevent birth defects, and ease digestive issues.
- Be mindful of high sugar content and too much fiber; consult your doctor before making significant dietary changes.
Are Dates Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes! Dates have been used for around 7,000 years and have been produced for agriculture for the past 5,000. Their history of being consumed for health benefits predates many other superfoods we have come to love, making them a reliable fruit choice.
Dates are an important part of a healthy diet, packed with tons of nutrients vital for helping your body thrive. This is amplified most significantly during pregnancy.
These are some of the nutrients in dates that make them incredibly important to expecting moms:
- Potassium: This electrolyte helps maintain an even balance between water and salt in your body.
- Vitamin K: This is one of the main vitamins a baby lacks when born. Eating dates gives your baby an advanced intake of vitamin K before their first breath.
- Fatty acids: Healthy forms of fatty acids do wonders for saving energy and distributing it throughout the day, helping you beat exhaustion.
- Calcium: During pregnancy, your body takes calcium from you for your little one. To keep teeth and bones strong, it’s key to consume calcium since your body doesn’t produce it.
These are only a few of the powerful aspects dates have that benefit your health and your baby.
Will Eating Dates Induce Labor?
While it may sound like an old wives’ tale, there is some scientific proof to this claim!
A study showed that 90% of women who eat six dates every day in the last four weeks of their pregnancy were more dilated upon their arrival at the hospital, had more intact membranes, and spent a shorter amount of time in the first stage of labor (1).
The women who ate dates were also less likely to have labor induced. Meanwhile, only 79% of the women who did not eat dates in the same study had the same simplicity in their experience.
Benefits of Dates During Pregnancy
Here are six ways eating dates during pregnancy may help your general health in the weeks leading up to your due date.
1. Prevent Anemia
Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a condition where your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to perform all its functions well.
When you’re pregnant, your blood demand increases, putting you at a higher risk for anemia and requiring you to supplement with more iron (2).
For help getting your daily intake of iron, look no further than the humble date.
2. Improve Energy
Snacking on some dried dates can give you a great energy boost. Healthy forms of natural sugar, when combined with the fiber in fruit, can provide your body with longer-lasting energy.
Processed foods, like candy bars and caffeine, may provide a momentary rush but will leave you with a heavy sugar crash.
3. Help Your Baby Grow
Magnesium — you guessed it, found in dates — is an incredible mineral, packed with many helpful qualities. These include making sure your baby has strong teeth and bones and preventing premature contractions.
4. Prevents Birth Defects
Folic acid has been proven to help prevent birth defects. Dates, along with oranges and grapefruit, have high levels of folic acid (3).
5. Helps Solve Digestive Issues
Constipation is a struggle that nearly every pregnant woman faces at least once, if not multiple times during her pregnancy. It’s a painful experience, but dates can help it from happening. This is because they’re high in fiber, one of the best nutrients to cure and prevent constipation.
6. Substitutes Sugar And Sweets
Dates are a healthy option to satisfy your sweet tooth! They can be made into delicious, healthier desserts or enjoyed on their own. But don’t overdo it, as they still contain sugar — even if that sugar is natural.
Disadvantages of Eating Dates During Pregnancy
Like anything, the results of eating dates will vary between women. Always discuss any major changes or concerns with your doctor.
There are two main things to remember if you choose to increase the number of dates in your diet leading up to your due date. Keeping these in mind will help you receive the benefits without problems.
- High Sugar Content: Keep portion sizes in mind, and don’t overdo it. High-glycemic foods, like dates and other products with natural sugar, can increase your chances of type 2 diabetes and encourage weight gain.
If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, be sure to limit your intake of sugary foods — including dates.
Editor's Note:Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN
- Too Much Fiber: Overeating dates can lead to diarrhea, cramping, and other unpleasant experiences related to your digestive tract. Drink a lot of water, and balance your diet with other foods to keep yourself in the clear.
5 Healthy & Delicious Date Recipes
Since few people want to snack on raw dates — even though the dried ones are pretty good — we’ll share a few easy and delicious date recipes, so you can incorporate this superfood into your diet.
1. Pumpkin Pecan Date Bars
A fun, tasty autumn snack! These nutritional bars are exciting to make and even better to eat — and they’re vegan, too.
2. Date and Hemp Seed Granola
This granola makes an amazing topper for yogurt, or you can eat it as cereal when paired with dairy or plant-based milk. It’s a superfood-packed granola that can be enjoyed by the whole family and is one of the easiest snacks to munch on during any activity.
3. Tomato Lentil Soup with Dates
Soup was my favorite food when I was pregnant, especially during chilly winter nights. It was a delicious and satisfying way to get a serving of vegetables. This unique soup combines spice and comfort for the ultimate winter warm-up — and we were surprised by how tasty it was!
4. Blueberry Stuffed Dates
There are tons of recipes for stuffed dates, but our favorite for a decadent vegan option combines blueberries and vanilla. You’ll love this super sweet treat!
5. Sugar-Free Macaroons
Since dates are naturally sugary, they make for a wonderful dessert. Why not up their health benefits by making tasty treats that don’t have more sugar than you need? These gluten-free, vegan cookies are a great choice for anyone looking for a sweet bite that’s also healthy.
6. Fruit and Nut Milkshake
Dates aren’t just for eating. You can get a quick date fix with this sweet and tasty banana date milkshake.
Other Foods To Help Ease Labor
So you tried dates, and they’re not your thing. That’s okay! If you’re still in the market for more foods to ease the birthing process, these are a few things you can add to your grocery cart:
- Coconut Oil: A couple of tablespoons of coconut oil per day can protect you against illness and fight off bacteria and germs.
- Almonds: These can be very tasty when paired with dates. Almonds also contain magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin E. Try them raw or in nut butter form.
- Orange Juice: Folate, potassium, calcium, and lots of vitamins are found in orange juice, so you can feel good about making it part of your breakfast habit.
- Beans: These fiber-packed superfoods come with a variety of incredible health benefits. Beans are a favorite option for pregnant women because of their versatility, as they make it easy to please everyone in your family with easy, tasty recipes.
Ready for Your Dates?
Introducing dates into your diet can make a world of difference during the birthing process because of all their vitamins and nutrients.
Whether you eat them raw or dried or use them for cooking up something delicious, it’s easy to add these to your kitchen and reap the benefits.