Dates are good dietary sources of iron, as they have 0.9 mg of iron per 100g. A serving of 4 dates provides 5% of the DV. However, there are date varieties with a much higher iron content, which can help us meet our daily needs.
How much iron is in dates?
The most common date variety is Medjool. Medjool dates have 0.9 mg of iron per 100g, or 5% of the Daily Value (DV). 4 pitted dates provide this amount of iron.
1/2 cup (3 medium dates) provides 0.65 mg of iron, or 3.6% of the DV. Just a medium pitted date has 0.22 mg of iron.
What’s the iron content of other date varieties?
There are many date varieties. The average iron content of most common date varieties is approximately 0.83 mg per 100g.
- Date varieties with a high iron content are Bushibal (1.5 mg per 100g), Gash Gaafar (1.4 mg), Ruzeiz (1.4 mg), Naghal (1.1 mg), and Khasab (1.1 mg).
- Date varieties with a low iron content are Khalas (0.6 mg per 100g), Fard (0.6 mg), Lulu (0.5 mg), and Barhi (0.2 mg).
Dried black dates have the highest iron content, though. They have the extremely high amount of 166.5 mg of iron per 100g! Just a dried black date provides approximately 40 mg of iron, or 220% of the recommended daily intake!
Can dates help us meet our daily iron needs?
Actually, dates can help us meet our daily needs, protect us from iron deficiency and increase iron levels. According to a 2019 study, published in the Pediatric Health Medicine and Therapeutics journal, the regular consumption of dates increased hemoglobin, hematocrit, and serum ferritin levels in primary school girl students with iron deficiency anemia.
However, we should eat moderate amounts of dates, as they’re particularly high in calories and sugars. Overconsumption of dates can make us gain weight. Even people with diabetes can consume reasonable amounts, though.
Dates, raisins, or plums have more iron?
Dates, raisins and plums (dried prunes) are favorite dried fruits. All are great dietary sources of iron!
Raisins have between 1.8 and 2.6 mg of iron per 100g, whereas plums have between 0.4 and 3.5 mg of iron per 100g. The iron content highly depends on the variety and the cooking method.
So, raisins have a much higher iron content than common dates. In fact, raisins have 2-3 times more iron than dates.
Common plums have a similar iron content to dates.
Do dates have more iron than other dried fruits?
Most dried fruits contain decent amounts of iron. They can help us meet our daily needs.
Goji berries are the richest dried fruit in iron, though. A handful provides 11% of the DV! Dried figs, currants, apples, and bananas are great dietary sources of iron as well.
Dates have a relatively medium iron content as compared to other favorite dried fruits.
per 1 oz
Do we absorb the iron of dates?
As a rule of thumb, we absorb only a small percentage of iron from plant-based foods. Plants contain compounds, like phytates, which inhibit iron absorption. The bioavailability of iron from vegetarian diets is between 5% and 12%.
On the contrary, the bioavailability of iron from mixed diets is up to 18%.
Thus, vegans, vegetarians, or people who follow a plant-based diet should consume 1.8 times more iron than people who follow mixed diets.
Dates have a low bioavailability of iron. They’re particularly high in phenolics (3,942 mg per 100 g) and antioxidants (80,400 μmol per 100 g). Phenolic compounds contribute to the low iron bioavailability. They make the iron and other minerals less available for absorption. On the other hand, phenolic compounds are beneficial for health.[6,7,8]
How to increase the absorption rate of iron in dates?
Above all, try to consume lots of foods high in vitamin C with foods high in iron. Vitamin C can increase nonheme iron absorption up to 270%.
Kale and spinach are both high in vitamin C and iron!
Dates contain negligible amounts of vitamin C.
Furthermore, honey consumption could increase iron levels by 20%, despite its low iron content.
Moreover, you can soak iron-rich seeds, nuts, and grains, such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa, to increase iron solubility. The germination process eliminates their phytate content.
What foods inhibit the absorption of iron in dates?
As a rule of thumb, we shouldn’t consume foods high in calcium with iron-rich foods, such as dates. High amounts of calcium may negatively affect the absorption of iron. Thus, better avoid consuming too much milk and dairy with dates, or iron supplements.
Furthermore, you should avoid drinking too much coffee, tea, or red wine when consuming foods rich in iron. These beverages contain high amounts of polyphenols, which bind to iron in the intestine, inhibiting its absorption.
Other foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, potatoes, chocolate, and many vegetables.
Beans are particularly rich in iron. They can really boost our daily iron intake. For instance, a serving of green peas, soy, lentils, and chickpeas provides between 25 and 50% of the DV!
Furthermore, you could consume fortified foods to skyrocket your iron intake. In fact, many cereals are enriched with iron.
How much iron do we need a day?
Adult men and women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.
But, the recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women of reproductive age, and 27 mg for pregnant women. As women require high dosages of iron, they may have a hard time to meet their daily needs from food. They may benefit from taking an iron supplement. You’ll find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.
You can’t possibly get too much iron from food. Only supplements provide high amounts of iron that could lead to side effects. We shouldn’t consume more than the maximum safe dose of iron.
Always consult your health care provider before taking a dietary supplement or changing your diet.
Health benefits of iron
Iron is a key component of hemoglobin. This protein of red blood cells transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. In addition, iron is involved in energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.
However, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. It may lead to serious adverse effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, low body temperature, premature delivery, and miscarriage.
Other health benefits of dates
Dates have many health benefits, due to their great nutritional value. They’re packed with antioxidant compounds, and many more minerals than iron, which can prevent and treat fatigue, chronic cough, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, diarrhea, kidney stone, and peptic ulcers. Also, dates have anticancer properties!
For instance, dates have also a decent amount of calcium!
Furthermore, dates are particularly high in fiber. A high-fiber intake may lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Also, it may reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol, enhance immune functions, and improve insulin sensitivity.