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On the long list of fruits and veggies your body needs before, during, and after pregnancy, Medjool dates reign supreme. Often called the “king of dates,” Medjools are larger, softer, and sweeter than other date varieties, which tend to be dry and tough. “Medjool dates have a sweet caramel-like flavor, but they are low on the glycemic index, making them an ideal everyday snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth,” explains Eliza Savage, R.D., in New York City. Not only are they incredibly nutritious, with all the right vitamins and minerals—such as fiber, protein, potassium, iron, magnesium, and more—but they’ve also been shown to offer several benefits that help during pregnancy and post-labor recovery. Here, we asked nutrition experts to reveal some of the most exciting perks of munching on Medjool dates throughout pregnancy.
They’re high in fiber
Medjool dates are an excellent source of soluble fiber, with about 1.6 grams in each one. “Fiber not only helps keep you full, but it also helps prevent constipation, which is common in pregnancy,” says Savage.
They may help ready the cervix for labor
Toward the end of pregnancy, the cervix goes through a process known as ripening to help prepare it for labor. A landmark study published in the 2014 issue of the Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health found that eating dates later in pregnancy is linked to cervical readiness. The researchers looked at more than 210 women presenting with healthy normal pregnancies, half of whom were given about six dates each day from the 37th week of pregnancy until delivery. “The results showed that cervical ‘ripening’ was highly significant, with the date-eating group scoring roughly a third higher for cervical readiness at delivery,” says David Feder, R.D.N., a nutrition journalist. “While the authors of the study noted the results, they could only point to the nutrients in dates they believed might have helped.”
They’re high in complex carbohydrates
When you’re exhausted and lacking energy due to morning sickness or even after giving birth, the complex carbohydrates in Medjool dates can come in handy. In addition, the sugar content of Medjool dates can help relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting, according to Savage. She recommends eating a pitted Medjool date stuffed with a teaspoon of almond or peanut butter before heading to work in the morning. And because they’re rich in carbs, eating dates could also help with post-labor recovery. That same 2014 study also found that eating dates could help reduce excessive bleeding after giving birth.
They may reduce the need for labor intervention
Even though labor and delivery are two of the most natural things to happen to a woman’s body, sometimes they both require some medical intervention. Women who eat Medjool dates throughout their pregnancy, however, may experience a decreased need for labor intervention, according to a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
They’re a great source of the prebiotic nutrient beta glucan
Beta glucan is a particular type of fiber known as a prebiotic nutrient—the food that some healthy gut microbes, known as probiotics, feed on, explains Suzanne Dixon, registered dietician. “Beta glucan, in particular, nourishes healthy strains of gut bacteria, improving the balance and numbers of these important residents of the gastrointestinal tract,” she says. “More and more research points to the importance of Mom having a healthy microbiome during pregnancy to bolster the health of her developing baby.”
They contain antioxidant phytonutrients
Antioxidants are another nutritional bonus of Medjool dates. “Medjool dates provide carotenoids, which offer some of the best dietary antioxidant protection available from commonly consumed foods,” says Dixon. “As with anti-inflammatory nutrients, protecting both Mom and her growing baby from excess oxidative stress is a positive.”
They may help lower blood pressure
Blood pressure is an important measurement for health, but especially during pregnancy, as high blood pressure can be an indication of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition for both mom and baby. Eating Medjool dates during pregnancy may help reduce a mom-to-be’s risk of high blood pressure, since they are a good source of potassium and magnesium, both of which are key for healthy blood pressure regulation. “Eating a balanced diet with plenty of potassium and magnesium, while keeping sodium intake low, is a standard recommendation during pregnancy—and dates are sodium free,” says Dixon.
Snack smart with Natural Delights® Medjool Dates.