You’re a mom to be and you might be a little confused in what you should eat and what you shouldn’t. Its also true that you might start having weird cravings while you’re pregnant whether you’re craving spice or sweets or any dessert in general. Going through the internet and searching through all the nutritious foods and foods that you should avoid during pregnancy is also something you shouldn’t be embarrassed about, it good that you’re educating yourself.
Now let’s talk about having dates during pregnancy, sounds slightly unfamiliar right? Did you know that eating dates during pregnancy is a good and rich source of some nutrients that your body requires for you and your baby’s nourishment. Dry fruits may not be a part of your diet but a handful of dates can benefit you a lot. Let’s discuss.
What are the Health Benefits?
Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits and has a history of thousands of years. They come in varieties with a few being quite common. Dates provide the body with vital nutrients and many health benefits; these are the following:
Preventing Cell Damage:
Dates are rich in antioxidants and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants play an essential role the body protecting the body’s cell from damage. You need to provide all the required nutrients for your growing baby and so your body shouldn’t face deficiency in them. Eating dates as a part of your healthy diet can help with these problems and make up to the nutrient requirement.
In the body, the regular cell functioning and the fluid balance is maintained by potassium. The culprit for lower potassium levels in pregnant women is due to the vomiting or the morning sickness that occurs in the first trimester. 4 dates contain about 670mg of potassium so its consumption in the first trimester is essentially helpful for you and your baby.
Dates are a great source of dietary fibers and only 4 pieces can complete 25% of your daily fiber requirement. Due to the hormonal fluctuations, the GI tracts slows down which causes constipation, consumption of dates help relieve constipation. The likelihood of constipation can be increased by the iron supplements that women take during pregnancy.
Substitute for Sugar:
If you’re craving some sweets, you can always eat some dates, it would satisfy your cravings and also provide you with the health benefits. Apart from that, you can also use it as a substitute for sugars. You can find some date sugar in grocery stores which is actually made up of ground up dry dates. Although it is lesser in calories compared to regular sugar that you use, do remember that date sugar would taste like dates so it won’t work as a substitute everywhere.
Dates contain vitamin B folate, an essential nutrient which helps in preventing birth defects among pregnant women such as spina bifida. Folic acids supplement is prescribed for pregnant women by doctors to avoid such birth defects. Consumption of dates can help you lower the chances of such birth defects.
Low GI Food:
Dates have a low glycemic index, this means that it won’t cause your blood sugar levels to increase rapidly due to the slow digestion. Some women can have gestational diabetes and may have high blood sugar levels, this can cause birth complications such as preterm labor and high birth weight of the baby.
During pregnancy, more blood is required for the mother and the baby and this can lead to a higher risk in iron deficiency anemia. Such women require double the amount of iron as prior to pregnancy and for this, doctors often prescribe iron supplements. If one has severe iron deficiency, there’s a higher risk of postpartum depression, preterm labor and low birth weight.
Precautions to take when Eating Dates during Pregnancy:
There’s almost no evidence that could prove that dates could cause any sort of harm during pregnancy in any of the three trimesters. That being said, dates are in fact very helpful and beneficial for the body. If you are feeling constipated or general weakness, dates are there to rescue.
There are some rumors that dates help in ease labor and first-time mothers may start taking them around near delivery. One precaution that you should take is make sure that you’re not allergic to dates. Although rare but some people may be allergic to it and can cause allergic reactions such as itching, tingling sensation and swelling around the mouth and oral cavity. If you happen to observe any of these symptoms, immediately stop eating dates.
Dates are also high in calories and carbs and if you’re advised not to consume too much carbs, you shouldn’t over eat them and ideally, limit the intake to 6 dates per day.
Dates and its Role in Labor:
Other than its benefits in pregnancy, dates have been used for other health benefits for a very long time. They have been used for anti-tumor, as a source of antioxidants, anti-inflammation etc. talking about labor, dates have been known to help in labor. As we said before, dates playing a role in labor had initially been a rumor and now according to the medical evidences, it is said to naturally induce labor.
A research shows that women who had 6 dates every day for 4 weeks gave birth on their estimated dates and had a shorter first stage of labor. Their membranes were more intact when arrived to the hospital and had higher mean cervical dilatation. In simpler words, we can say that their cervix was riper to give birth. More women who consumed dates had spontaneous labor compared to those who did not.
Women who have dates on a regular basis don’t really need labor induced while those don’t eat, may or may not need labor induction.
Eating Dry Fruits During Pregnancy:
Apart from dates, there are many other options that you can choose from among the dry fruits. Fruits in general are very beneficial as they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber that is essential for your body during pregnancy. They’re fulfilling and can keep you satisfied for longer periods of time.
You should add dry fruits in your diet as they lack water and hence a small portion contains larger amounts of calories and carbohydrates. If you’re trying to limit your carbs and calories intake, try not to have more than half to one cup of dry fruits per day. Dry fruits can be consumed in different ways and not just alone, you can add it to your milkshakes, smoothies, salads or simply have it as a side dish.
Since you’re a mom to be, you should take good care of your diet and your body. Its not just your baby but you as well, if you’re healthy, your baby would also be healthy. Eating dates can provide you with the required nutrients and can also make up for many of the needed nutrients that you may face deficiency in during pregnancy.
Apart from that it can also help you during labor and your membranes are more intake and furthermore, dates can also help induce labor which many women try for during the last few weeks. Make sure that you eat them in just adequate quantity and not too much since they’re high in calories and carbohydrates.