(First published on The Contented Calf website on Wednesday 20th May 2015.)
Why are dates such a great top 10 lactogenic food for breastfeeding mums?
Dates contain Tryptophan. Tryptophan is one of the 10 essential amino acids that the body uses to create the proteins it needs. In particular, tryptophan serves as a precursor for serotonin (our feel-good neurotransmitter). Seratonin supports the chemistry of lactation.
Serotonin counter-acts Dopamine, which suppresses Prolactin (needed for milk production). So anything that keeps Dopamine levels low, in turn keeps Prolactin levels high; thus making them lactogenic and helping to combat low milk supply.
High tryptophan = high seratonin = high prolactin.
Tryptophan is particularly plentiful in dates, hence dates being great for breastfeeding mums.
100g of Dates provide 6.5% calcium RDI. Some women who are continuing to breastfeed after they have re-started menstruating have noted that they experienced lower milk production prior to their periods.
Although this link has not formally studied, Patricia Gima (IBCLC) has reported calcium/magnesium supplements have helped several of her clients, often within 24 hours.
The history of dates as a Top 10 lactogenic breastfeeding food
The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is a tree of western Asia and northern Africa that is cultivated also in the United States, South Asia, and Australia. It bears clusters of edible sweet fruit – dates.
Have dates always been considered a top 10 lactogenic food?
In her book Mother Food, Hilary Jacobson tells us that dates were amongst some foods revered as the sacred plants of women in ancient times. She goes on to say that milk production removes sugar from the blood, which we need to replenish. (Which is why, mamas, we crave sweet things so much, and can’t stop eating chocolate bars!)
However, we should stay away from refined sugars, and revert back to traditional systems of medicine from India and China. These say that naturally sweet food is particularly lactogenic and healthful, such as dates.
What else is great about this top 10 lactogenic food, as well as being great for breastfeeding?
They are generally all-round nutritious
They are a good source of various vitamins and minerals; a good source of energy, sugar and fiber; essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc; and finally vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
They are an excellent source of iron and potassium
Dates are an excellent source of iron – about 11% of RDI in 100g. They are also an excellent source of potassium. 100 g contains 16% RDI. Potassium helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
An in-depth analysis of the nutritional value of medjool dates per 100 g, with thanks to ‘Nutrition And You’ www.nutrition-and-you.com/dates.html – source: USDA National Nutrient data base.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.15 g||<1%|
|Dietary Fiber||6.7 g||18%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.805 mg||16%|
|Vitamin A||149 IU||5%|
|Vitamin K||2.7 µg||2%|
happy and healthy
As you would expect, these super-nutritious sweet-treat fruits provide numerous health benefits such as help with: constipation, bone health and strength, intestinal disorders, anemia, allergies, weight gain, energy boosts, nervous system health, heart health, sexual health and stamina, night blindness, intoxication, diarrhoea and abdominal cancer.
To get your fix of this top 10 lactogenic food – dates, The Contented Calf Cookbook includes, amongst others, the following recipes containing dates:
- Date, Coconut & Cardamom Porridge
- Papaya, Mango & Coconut Salad (including dates)
- Lamb & Date Tagine
Top Lactogenic Foods for Breastfeeding Mums
- Top 10 Lactogenic Foods for Breastfeeding Mums: Almonds
- Top 10 Lactogenic Foods for Breastfeeding Mums: Apricots
- Top 10 Lactogenic Foods for Breastfeeding Mums: Barley
- Top 10 Lactogenic Foods for Breastfeeding Mums: Dates
- Top 10 Lactogenic Foods for Breastfeeding Mums: Fennel
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As ever, with love from our family to yours,
references & further reading
 Mother Food: A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Foods and Herbs for a Mom & Baby’s Best Health (Rosalind Press – 2007)