‘Why daily intake of date protects against preeclampsia, makes labour easy’

Many people have long believed that date is good for general health. There’s some evidence that shows that eating dates may help make labour and delivery easy, short, and healthy. What is more, experts say that eating dates during pregnancy is not only healthy but can contribute to preventing the development of preeclampsia.

In a study, researchers said daily consumption of 7 pieces of Ajwa dates in pregnant women with preeclampsia risk has the potential to prevent the occurrence of preeclampsia through improvement in mean arterial pressure (MAP) and roll-over test (ROT), the combination of measurement which can be used to predict preeclampsia in pregnant women.

Dates have been used for around 7,000 years and have been produced for agriculture. They are an important part of a healthy diet, packed with tonnes of nutrients vital for helping the body thrive. The fruits are commonly referred to within the Islamic tradition as beneficial to pregnant women.

The date fruit appears to be a reasonable food choice for pregnant women as a part of a well-balanced diet. It contains a high percentage of carbohydrate, fat, 15 types of salts and minerals, proteins, and vitamins.

A 2019 study in the journal, Biomedical Research International evaluated the effect of daily consumption of seven Ajwa dates on the prevention of preeclampsia in 40 pregnant women. They were randomly assigned to the control group and the intervention group which received a daily intake of Ajwa dates. The MAP and ROT were assessed before and after the 8-week intervention period.

Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure. It usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman whose blood pressure had been normal. It can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby. There may be no symptoms. High blood pressure and protein in the urine are key features. But the early prediction of preeclampsia in pregnant women is required to prevent the occurrence of preeclampsia.


The randomised controlled study was conducted in Indonesia from January through March 2019.  It included pregnant women having one of the preeclampsia risk factors. These risks are obesity, being pregnant for the first time, history of hypertension, preeclampsia history in a previous pregnancy, and family history of preeclampsia.

At the completion of the 8-week intervention group, the MAP decreased by 13%, while an 8.1% increase in MAP was observed in the control group. It indicates that the progressivity of preeclampsia was prevented in the intervention group, but not in the control group. Similar findings were shown on ROT values, in which a 66.4% of reduction was observed in the control group, while a 5.6% increase was shown in the control group.

The researchers suggested that the potential of Ajwa dates in improving MAP and ROT might be due to the presence of potassium and magnesium in the Ajwa dates. Potassium and magnesium are important minerals which play a role in controlling blood pressure, normal heart rhythm, and muscle contraction.

Previously, researchers had evidence to show that eating date fruit makes childbirth easier. One study at the Jordan University of Science and Technology involved 69 women who consumed six date fruits per day for 4 weeks prior to their estimated date of delivery and 45 women who consumed none.

A 2011 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reported that spontaneous labour occurred in 96% of those who consumed dates, compared with 79% of women in the non-date fruit consumers. The use of prostin/oxytocin was significantly lower in women who consumed dates (28%), compared with the non-date fruit consumers (47%). Also, the first stage of labour was shorter in women who consumed date fruit compared with the non-date fruit consumers.

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 labour.

In a 2017 study, a team of Iranian researchers in the journal of obstetrics and gynaecology were able to demonstrate that the duration of the 3 phases of labour was shorter in women who consumed dates late in pregnancy.  In addition, oxytocin use to speed up labour was significantly reduced in the group of women who consumed dates.

Furthermore, in 2020 researchers in the BMC Pregnancy Childbirth evaluated all clinical studies on the effects of date palm fruit on labour and delivery that were published from January 2000 to August 2019. They said the consumption of date fruit may reduce the frequency of cesarean sections. The most common causes of cesarean section are abnormal progress of labour and non-effective contractions of the womb.

Several mechanisms have been proposed for the effect of date fruit consumption on labour progression, including the influence on oxytocin receptors, better cervical preparation, and reinforcement of prostaglandin synthesis.  However, experts say that more research is needed to confirm that this practice would benefit all women. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to snack on a few a day until the due date.

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