10 REASONS TO LOVE DATES
1. Dates have history.
Dates have been ‘In’ with commoners, Kings and Queens since 3000 BC! Dates are rich in vitamins and minerals, which was important to desert people who relied on this dietary staple.
2. They can help control sugar cravings.
Dates are very high in fiber and protein, both of which can curb sugar cravings. Craving candy? Try a Medjool date, one of the sweeter variety.
3. Dates are good on the go.
Dates are both naturally sweet, naturally dry and portable, making them an ideal alternative to artificial and processed snacks.
4. They can go the distance.
Energy-dense, dates are an ideal fuel for endurance activities, such as hiking or cycling. Almost 90 percent of the carbohydrates in a serving of Medjools, or approximately 66.5 grams, are sugar. However, nearly all of this sugar is in the form of glucose and fructose. Both are easily digested simple sugars, or monosacharides. For an energizing and delicious pre or post-workout treat, try mixing dates with coconut and nuts to make raw bars, such as Coconut Cashew Date bars.
5. Dates can replace refined sugar in baked goods.
Dates are naturally moist, sticky and may have hints of carmel, brown sugar and often vanilla flavor. This makes them an excellent, unprocessed alternative to processed sugar in baking. Use them chopped or make a date paste by soaking 20 Medjool dates in water for 30 minutes to two hours. Process in a blender with one tablespoon of water at a time until smooth, then store refrigerated.
6. They have a naturally long shelf life.
Dates have a shelf life of 90 days refrigerated in an airtight container and 30 days when stored at room temperature or cooler. Buy in bulk and stock up!
7. Dates CAN be eaten in moderation without raising blood sugar.
Studies have shown that dates do not send blood sugar skyrocketing! The May 28, 2011, issue of “Nutrition Journal” reports a study in which a serving size of 7-10 dates was tested on both healthy and diabetic individuals. This study showed that while dates contain high amounts of natural sugars, they are actually a low-glycemic index food. They did not significantly raise participants’ blood sugar levels.
8. They are an excellent source of fiber.
This is why, despite the high concentration of sugar, they have a low-glycemic index. It’s almost a ‘have your date cake and eat it too’ situation. Just one pitted date contains 1.6 g of fiber, or 6 percent of the recommended daily intake. So, they are not only sweet and filling, but also help you stay full longer and support healthy elimination.
9. Dates are heart healthy.
According to a study published in the Sept. 9, 2009, issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,” dates help lower triglycerides. The study showed that consuming dates may lower triglycerides by 8 to 15 percent. Keeping triglyceride levels in a healthy range lowers the risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health. Dates also help lower blood pressure! They are dense in potassium, copper, Vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, iron and Vitamin K, micronutrients known to lower blood pressure.
10. Antioxidant All-Stars!
According to researchers, dates have the highest concentration of polyphenols among dried fruits. Polyphenols, potent antioxidants, help protect the body against the oxidation and inflammation of cells that can lead to cancer. In fact, the Medjool variety contains more antioxidants than blackberries, plums and apples.
RESOURCE: Guide to Baking with Dates from the Kitchn
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Dates, Medjool
- Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Juma M Alkaabi, et al. Nutr J. 2011;10:59-59.
- Nutritional and Functional Properties of Dates: A Review Al-Farsi, Mohamed Ali; Lee, Chang Yong Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Volume 48, Number 10, November 2008, pp. 877-887(11)