When Is the Best Time to Eat Dates?


Dates are delicious and nutritious fruits that grow on the date palm tree.

They’re widely consumed throughout the world and hold high value in many cultures and religions.

Widely touted for their high fiber and sugar content, many people wonder whether there’s an ideal time to eat dates.

This article discusses the best and worst times to eat dates.

Dates are highly nutritious. The most popular varieties include Medjool and Deglet Noor dates. Though fresh dates are edible, dates are most often consumed dried and easily identified by their dry, bumpy skin.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of dates provides (1):

  • Calories: 282
  • Protein: 2.5 grams
  • Carbs: 75 grams
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Sugar: 64 grams
  • Calcium: 3% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 6% of the DV
  • Potassium: 14% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 10% of the DV
  • Copper: 23% of the DV
  • Selenium: 6% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 10% of the DV
  • Folate: 6% of the DV

Dates are typically dried and small. This makes eating multiple dates very doable. As a result, it’s easy to eat large quantities of calories, fiber, and natural sugar in one sitting. Therefore, be sure to eat dates in moderation.

Summary

Dates are an excellent source of fiber, natural sugars, and many vitamins and minerals. However, dried dates are high in calories and easy to overeat in one sitting.

Regardless of the food you’re thinking about eating, the best time to eat is when you’re hungry or want to eat.

Though many health gurus claim that there are best times for the body to digest food — and that eating outside of these times will result in poor digestion — there’s little scientific proof to support these claims.

The human body is ready to digest food before it even touches your mouth. It releases specific digestive enzymes in the mouth and continues to release them throughout the entire course of digestion (2, 3).

In fact, your body is able to identify the type of enzymes needed based on the food’s macronutrient ratio — its carb, protein, and fat composition — and can do this at any time of the day (2, 3).

However, there are times when eating dates may be ideal, such as (4, 5, 6, 7):

  • At breakfast. Dates can be an excellent way to add natural sweetness and fiber to your diet in the early morning. What’s more, their high fiber content can keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning.
  • As an afternoon snack. Dates are a good source of fiber and high in natural sugars. This pairing of fiber and sugar allows for a slower rise in blood sugar to help you feel energized without crashing soon afterward.
  • When you’re hungry. They’re a concentrated form of calories and very filling due to their high fiber content. If you’re feeling hungry but aren’t ready for a full meal, pair dates with some peanut butter for a good source of fiber, carbs, and protein.
  • Before a workout. Though dates are naturally high in sugar, they don’t spike blood sugar quickly. Rather, they provide a type of slow-releasing carb that allows for a steady stream of energy to fuel your workout. Try having 2–4 dates 30–60 minutes before a workout.
  • As a nighttime snack. They’re an excellent bedtime snack due to their high fiber content. Fiber takes longer to digest, which can help you stay full and keep midnight hunger pangs at bay.

Summary

You can eat dates at any time of the day without any digestive issues. They also make for an energy-rich snack that will keep you full and satisfied.

Though your body can digest food whenever you need it to, there are a few situations in which eating dates isn’t the best idea (8, 9, 10):

  • You have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Those with IBS may be sensitive to foods containing FODMAPs, which are small-chain carbs that some people have difficulty digesting. As a significant source of fructose, they can lead to bloating and stomach upset.
  • After a large meal. Dates are high in fiber, which takes longer to digest. As a result, eating a large number of dates after a large meal may make you feel extremely full and uncomfortable.
  • If you have an allergy. Though rare, some people can be sensitive or even have an allergy to dates. If you think this may apply to you, speak with a healthcare professional first.
  • If you’re experiencing diarrhea or loose stools. Dates contain a sugar alcohol known as sorbitol, which may increase bowel movements in some people. Therefore it’s best to limit or avoid dates until your bowel movements have normalized.

Beyond these occasions, there are no “bad” times to eat dates. In fact, they’re highly nutritious and lend themselves well as a snack or part of a meal. Remember that your body is very capable of digesting food 24 hours a day.

Summary

Dates are high in a sugar alcohol known as sorbitol, which can increase bowel movements and should be avoided if you’re experiencing diarrhea. Those with IBS or sensitivities may also wish to avoid dates due to their high fructose content.

Dates are a nutritious, delicious, and convenient snack.

They’re high in fiber, calories, and natural sugars, and they serve well as a sweet snack or part of a meal.

Due to your body’s ability to digest foods no matter the time of day, you can enjoy dates whenever you like. They make a great snack in the morning, afternoon, or evening due to their high fiber and sugar content, which helps keep you full and energized.

However, if you have IBS, are sensitive or allergic, or are experiencing diarrhea, you may want to avoid dates or consult a healthcare professional first.

Go ahead and enjoy dates whenever and however you please.



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