Dates are delicious, very sweet fruits, packed with numerous nutrients, vitamins, and nutrients, as well as antioxidants, easily digestible sugars, micronutrients, that improve health in various ways.
They are small and cylindrical-oval in shape and grow in clusters on the date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera). A date palm can produce between 400 and 600 kg of dates annually.They grow in countries around the Mediterranean, North Africa, and in Asia, and most dates sold in Western countries are dried dates. The best types of dates are Medjool, Khalas, and Deglet Noor, with Medjool dates being the most popular.
Dried dates are richer in sugar and phenolic compounds (plant-based antioxidants) than fresh dates.
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that a Medjool date without the pips has 66 calories, so 5 pitted Medjool dates contain 330 calories and 8 grams of fiber.
A 1-oz (28 g) serving of dates contains 21 g of carbs, and 18.6 g of sugar, which is mainly glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
Dates are rich in B-group vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin K, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. They also contain elemental fluorine which protects teeth and selenium. They are abundant in protein and contain 23 different amino acids.
Just one Medjool date contains 1.6 g of fiber which is 6% of your recommended fiber intake. These fruits also have a low glycemic index and are high in polyphenols.
Therefore, these fruits have a plethora of health benefits, as follows:
- Dates have been found to prevent various neuro-degenerative diseases in men and women, due to the high antioxidant content that fights inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. They prevent Alzheimer’s disease and reduce memory impairment;
- Dates have powerful anti-inflammatory effects that prevent infections and various chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes;
- Dates are rich in fiber so they improve digestion, treat constipation, and boost the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, improving colon and bowel health;
- The numerous phenolic compounds in dates manage cholesterol and triglycerides levels and improve vascular health;
- Dates are rich in potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants, so they boost heart health and lower the risk of various cardiovascular heart diseases. Also, extracts from date palm fruit were found to repair heart tissue after a heart attack;
- The antioxidants in dates improve liver health and function and repair liver damage caused by toxins;
- The numerous phytochemicals and other bio-active compounds in dates protect against various types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer;
- Dates can be consumed by diabetics, as they do not increase blood sugar levels after meals, and their antioxidants increase insulin output and inhibit glucose absorption;
- Dated also protect against nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), which is a complication of diabetes which damages the peripheral nerves, and causes pain and numbness or weakness in the hands, feet, and the extremities;
- Dates are high in fiber and healthy sugars that energize the body, keep you full and boost weight loss;
- Medjool dates can be used as natural and healthier alternatives to sugar, as 100 grams of pitted Medjool dates contain just over 66 grams of sugar which are mostly fructose and glucose and about 277 calories;
- Dates have been found to ease childbirth, as they lead to higher cervical dilation and reduce the labor length before labor if consumed regularly.
As they are rich in sugar, it is recommended that you consume dates in moderation, which is about 2-3 larger dates, or up to 4 smaller dates daily.
Store them in a glass container with a sealable lid or in a resealable plastic bag to preserve their freshness. You can also store them in the refrigerator or freezer for a year or more.
You can consume dates in various ways, you can chop them and sprinkle them on salads, desserts, and oatmeal, add them to muffins, cakes, cookies, and breads, or eat them dried.
You can soak them in water and add them to your smoothies, or make date paste and use it instead of sugar in baking.
Make sure you try the following delicious date recipes:
- 1/4 cup pitted dried dates, such as Medjool
- 2 cups almond milk
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds, soaked
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 medium lime, juiced
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- 4 ice cubes
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
Mix all the ingredients in the blender and blend them until smooth, for about a minute, on high speed. Then, divide the mixture between two cups, sprinkle with salt and cinnamon, and serve it.
Tahini-Date Salted Caramels
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/8 teaspoon fleur de sel or some other type of finishing salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
In a blender, mix the dates, coconut oil, tahini, and cardamom, and blend until you get a very smooth, creamy, and thick paste. Then, transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined loaf pan, and press it evenly using a spatula.
Sprinkle with salt and leave to freeze until firm. Next, remove the mixture from the pan, cut into bite-size pieces, and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.
Vegan Chocolate-Date Smoothie
- 4 dried dates, pitted
- 2 medium frozen bananas
- 2 cups unsweetened nut milk
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix the dates and nut milk in a blender on high speed, for about half a minute. The, add the bananas, cocoa powder, almond butter, and cinnamon, blend again for about a minute, until completely smooth and creamy.