The Health Benefits of Dates: An Excellent Source of Insoluble Fibre

Prominently featured in both the Bible and the Koran, dates are a delicacy from the Middle East and have gained popularity worldwide. Offering your guests a bowl of dates is a sign of hospitality taken from ancient times, and continues today in many cultures.

The Health Benefits of Dates

There are over 3,000 types of dates. They’re usually classified based on their moisture: soft, hard and semi-dry. One of the most common dates in the US is the Deglet Noor, a semi-dry date with medium sweetness. Other popular types include Honey Dates, which are soft and melt in your mouth; soft and sweet Barhi dates; and Medjool dates, which are firmer sweet dates (and tend to be the most expensive).

Why Dates Are Good for Older Adults

Like other dried fruit, dates are high in sugar and calories. Half a cup of chopped dried dates has 207 calories and 47 grams of sugar. Even though they’re high in sugar, dates are lower on the glycemic index than bananas and grapes, and don’t raise your blood sugar levels as high. Choosing foods that are lower on the glycemic index may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Dried dates come with lots of good nutrients, namely fibre, magnesium, vitamin B6 and iron. The insoluble fibre in dates (a type of fibre commonly found in the seeds and skins of fruit) provides great roughage to clean out your digestive tract. This is particularly good for mature adults: as people get older, they’re at higher risk for colon cancer. Including plenty of insoluble fibre in your diet can lower your risk.

The magnesium in dates can also help manage blood sugar levels and is wonderful for bone strength, while vitamin B6 converts food into energy, and iron. Iron is needed for your red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body and to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Dried dates are also a source of polyphenols (antioxidants that lower inflammation) and may help reduce chronic pain.

Why We Love Dates

Dates are a natural sweetener that provide a wonderful way to sweeten recipes without using processed sugar or artificial sweeteners. Try them in homemade granola bars, brownies or other baked goods. Or add chopped dates to green salads, your favorite smoothie bowl, or grain dishes such as quinoa or bulghur.

Or, continue the lovely culture of offering your guests a bowl of dates when they come over; they’re wonderful with other appetizers like cheeses and nuts.

Editor’s note: Are you aging actively in a unique and inspiring way? Are you interested in sharing your experience with us? We love to be inspired. We have a goal to bring more diverse points of view and lifestyles to Lifetime Daily this year. Send in your details or recommend a friend. You can reach us at editor@lifetimedaily.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

About the Writer

Christy Brissette

Christy, MSc, RD, is a registered dietitian and nutrition communications expert. She is the President of 80 Twenty Nutrition, a nutrition and food media and consulting company. She specializes in healthy eating for disease prevention and management, with a focus on older adults.

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