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.
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 date, 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).
Fresh and Dried Dates Nutrition Facts
1. Dates are a good pre-workout energy source.
How many carbs in dates, you ask? One ounce of organic medjool dates (28 grams) contains 21 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include 1.9 grams of dietary fiber and 18.6 grams of naturally occurring sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose. Many plant-based long-distance athletes use dates before or even during workouts for energy, says Fitness Coach and Lifetime Daily contributor Karina Inkster.
2. Dates are lower on the glycemic index than bananas and grapes.
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.
3. Dried dates come with lots of good nutrients.
Namely fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6 and iron. The insoluble fiber in dates (a type of fiber 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 fiber 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.
5. Dried dates may help reduce chronic pain.
Dried dates are also a source of polyphenols (antioxidants that lower inflammation) and may help reduce chronic pain.
6. Dates are a source of potassium.
One ounce of dates provides 195 milligrams of potassium, or 6% of the recommended daily intake. The American Heart Association has written extensively about the health benefits of potassium. Foods like dates are sources of potassium which are important for managing high blood pressure and hypertension. This is because potassium lessens the effects of sodium commonly found in processed foods. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine, the Association says.
7. Dates are a natural sweetener.
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 bulgur.
3 Recipes With Dates We Particularly Like:
1. Chocolate Tahini Energy Bars (Gluten Free) from Fraiche Nutrition
Be mindful that portion control is important here. If you’re making 18 bars each bar has around 190 calories, 6.5 g protein, 10 g fat and 28 g of carbohydrate.
2. Noni’s Bran Muffins with Date Puree from Just a Taste
In the words of professionally trained chef and food blogger Kelly Senyei, “Toasted bran. Pureed dates. Whole wheat flour. Probably tastes like cardboard, right? Think again!”
3. No-Bake Almond Butter Oatmeal Bites from Love & Lemons
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