Eating Dates During Pregnancy

Eating Dates During Pregnancy
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Many readers are interested in the following topic: Is Eating Dates During Pregnancy Safe — and Can It Help Labor. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.

While dates are safe to eat during pregnancy, there are some things to keep in mind:

Eating Dates: Health Benefits While Pregnant?

Dates are considered the world’s oldest cultivated fruit, with a history going back thousands of years. There are many different varieties of dates but the two most commonly grown in the U.S. are Medjool and Deglet Noor (also known as Deglet Nour).

Dates offer a number of health benefits — especially for pregnant women.

Health Benefits of Eating Dates

Dates are full of vitamins and minerals. They’re also rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body from cell damage. During pregnancy, it’s important to eat a balanced diet with the key nutrients needed for you and your baby.

Here are some of the health benefits of eating dates during pregnancy:

Dietary Fiber. Dates contain a lot of dietary fiber, which helps with bowel movements. Four dates have about 6.7 grams of dietary fiber, equaling about 25% of the recommended daily intake of 20 to 35 grams.

Dates can help relieve constipation. This is a common symptom during pregnancy, because hormones cause the gastrointestinal tract to slow down. Iron supplements, which many pregnant women take, can also increase the likelihood of constipation.

Potassium. Your body needs potassium to maintain fluid balance and support regular cell functioning. Less than 2% of adults in the U.S. meet the daily recommended amount of 4,700 milligrams of potassium.

Many pregnant women experience vomiting in their first trimester, which can lead to lower potassium levels. Dates have 696 milligrams of potassium in a 100-gram serving (about 4 dates).

Folate. Dates also contain the B vitamin folate, an important nutrient during pregnancy as it prevents serious birth defects such as spina bifida. Doctors recommend that pregnant women take folate in a folic acid supplement to reach the daily recommended amount of 600 mcg. Dates provide 15 mcg of folate per 100-gram serving.

Iron. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of iron-deficiency anemia, and need twice the amount of iron as those who aren’t pregnant. Severe iron-deficiency anemia can raise your chances of having a preterm or low-weight baby and developing postpartum depression.

Low GI food. Dates are a low glycemic index (GI) food. This means that they’re digested more slowly and won’t cause a rapid increase in your blood sugar levels. Some 10% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, which involves high blood sugar levels. This can lead to complications such as a higher birth-weight baby and preterm labor.

Sugar substitute. Dates can also be used as a substitute for sugar. Date sugar, which can be found in some grocery stores and health food shops, is made of ground-up dried dates. It has about 30% fewer calories than regular sugar. Keep in mind that date sugar tastes like dates, so it won’t always work well as a sugar substitute.

Are Dates Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

There’s no evidence showing any negative effects of eating dates during pregnancy.

In fact, dates are great snacks to help curb sugar cravings. Eating a few dates instead of ice cream or candy can help satisfy your sweet tooth. A study of mothers and their children found that high-sugar diets during pregnancy can affect a child’s brain function. However, eating natural sugars from fruits, like dates, was associated with higher intelligence scores.

While dates are safe to eat during pregnancy, there are some things to keep in mind:

High in calories. Dates are high in calories and carbohydrates, so be aware of the number you’re eating per day. A 100-gram serving of dates, or about four pitted dates, is roughly 277 calories. This is just under the additional 300 calories needed in the second trimester.

Potential allergen. Some people may have an allergy to dates and should avoid them.

Can Dates Induce Labor?

Many people have long believed that dates help induce labor. There’s some evidence that shows eating dates may help shorten labor, but it won’t necessarily kick-start it.

One study of more than 200 pregnant women in 2013 showed that eating dates can help with the softening of the cervix or cervical ripening for labor.

Another study showed that pregnant women who ate 6 dates a day for 4 weeks before their due date had a shorter first stage of labor and their cervix was softer before delivery. Eating dates in late pregnancy has also been shown to lessen the need for oxytocin, the medication used to start or speed up labor.

Show Sources

Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: “Dates.”

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American Journal of Preventive Medicine: “Associations of Prenatal and Child Sugar Intake with Child Cognition.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Folic Acid,” “The Role of Potassium and Sodium in Your Diet.”

Chicago Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics: “Nature’s Candy.”

European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “ Allergy to date fruits: characterization of antigens and allergens of fruits of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.)” “Healthy Eating and Pregnancy.”

Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health: “The Effect of Late-Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Cervical Ripening in Nulliparous Women.”

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology: “Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery,” “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery.”

Mayo Clinic: “Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy: Prevention tips,” “Low potassium (hypokalemia).”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Antioxidants: In Depth.”

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The Washington Post: “The sweet truth about coconut and date sugar — there are some benefits.”

Is Eating Dates During Pregnancy Safe — and Can It Help Labor?

When it comes to sweet and healthy snacks during pregnancy, you can’t go wrong with dates.

If truth be told, this dried fruit might not be on your radar. Yet, eating a handful of dates is more nutritious than some realize.

Here’s a look at a few benefits of eating dates during pregnancy, including how this fruit may affect labor.

Dates offers many nutritional benefits during pregnancy.

One day you might feel energetic, and the next day you’re fatigued and can’t think clearly. (Thanks, pregnancy brain fog.) The more nutrients and vitamins you put into your system, though, the better you’ll feel physically and mentally.

Dates are a fruit from the date palm tree, which is a type of flowering plant. Dates are one of the sweetest types of fruits. But don’t worry, it’s a natural type of sugar.

Eating this dried fruit provides a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth than perhaps that traditional ice cream craving. And because it’s a good source of natural fructose, dates may give you energy to fight pregnancy fatigue — a win-win.

The nutritional benefits don’t stop here, though. Dates are also loaded with fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly. And as a result, you’re less likely to deal with pregnancy-related constipation.

Dates are also a source of folate, which helps reduce the likelihood of birth defects. They also provide iron and vitamin K.

Getting more iron in your diet can boost your energy levels and fight iron deficiency anemia. In addition, vitamin K helps a growing baby develop strong bones, and it can improve your muscle and nerve function.

Dates are also a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte mineral that helps keep blood vessels relaxed and blood pressure lower.

Dates are not only healthy, but also safe to eat during pregnancy. There’s no evidence suggesting that dates have a negative effect during the first, second, or third trimester of pregnancy.

Quite the opposite, actually: Eating dates can have a positive effect and help you feel better, especially if you’ve been dealing with low energy or constipation.

Because of the rumors about dates making for easier labor — more on that in a second — some people may try them for the first time while pregnant.

For this reason, one precaution is the (very unlikely) risk of having an allergic reaction to dates. Signs of a reaction include tingling, itchiness, or swelling around your mouth or tongue. If these symptoms develop, stop eating dates immediately.

Keep in mind that dates are also high in carbohydrates and calories, so don’t go overboard if your OB has told you to watch your calorie intake or blood sugar. Limit yourself to six dates a day.

The date palm tree is a native plant in the Middle East, so while dates aren’t a staple food in the United States, they are in that part of the world — and have been for millennia.

Dates have long been believed to have therapeutic benefits (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor). Another purported benefit is the ability of dates to improve labor.

Eating this dried fruit to enhance the labor experience may seem like an old urban (or, rather, ancient) myth, but according to researchers, there’s some evidence to back up this claim. So depending on how many dates you eat during pregnancy, your labor could start without the help of medication since dates are believed to promote natural induction.

In a 2011 study , researchers had 69 pregnant women eat six dates a day for 4 weeks leading up to their estimated delivery dates. The study also consisted of 45 pregnant women who didn’t eat any dates prior to their delivery dates.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers discovered that the women who ate six dates a day for 4 weeks had a shorter first stage of labor, a higher mean cervical dilatation, and more had intact membranes upon arrival at the hospital. (In other words, their cervix was more ripe for giving birth.)

Additionally, 96 percent of the women who ate dates experienced spontaneous labor compared with only 79 percent of the women who didn’t eat dates.

A more recent study of 154 women compared 77 who ate dates late in their pregnancy and 77 who didn’t. Researchers found that the date eaters had significantly less need for medical intervention to induce or expedite labor compared to those who didn’t eat any dates.

Based on these findings, researchers believe that eating dates could reduce the need for labor induction. More research is needed to confirm it would benefit all women. (But it sure wouldn’t hurt to nibble on a few a day leading up to your due date!)

Be mindful that dates aren’t the only dried fruits you can eat during pregnancy. Fruit in general is healthy due to its vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients. It’s also filling and can help you feel satisfied longer.

But it’s also important to eat dried fruits in moderation. Dried fruits go through a drying process (yes, we know that’s a bit obvious), which causes them to lose water. And as a result, these fruits tend to have more calories and sugar than their non-dried counterparts.

So eating a handful of your favorite dried fruit isn’t the same as eating the same amount of fresh fruit. So if you’re trying to control your sugar intake, stick to no more than a half cup to one cup of dried fruit per day.

You can eat dried fruit alone, add it to smoothies, or sprinkle it over a salad or side dish.

A healthy pregnancy is all about eating a healthy, balanced diet, which can include plenty of fresh and dried fruits. Dates are an excellent choice because they’re fiber rich and have other nutrients and vitamins.

And if research conclusions are accurate, eating dates while pregnant just might improve your chances for a spontaneous, natural induction.

Last medically reviewed on November 27, 2019