If you’ve been following me for a while, you know dates are a staple in my diet. I have them every single day for so many reasons. I truly believe dates are one of the healthiest sweets out there and they are so versatile!
So what is a date? Dates are sweet stone fruits that grow on date palms in small clusters and they are harvested around fall or early winter. They lose most of their moisture while still on the tree during the hottest months of the summer. Most people are familiar with dates at this stage and consider them nature’s candy due to their sweetness. You can actually enjoy some date varieties before they naturally lose their moisture on the tree, and this is something that is extremely popular in the Middle Eastern cultures. I grew up eating dates this way and they are just as good!
There are over 30 kinds of dates, but the most common types are:
Deglet noor dates
I know there are so many people who come to me worrying that dates are high in sugar and if they should avoid them, but dates are packed with tons of nutrients that will benefit your health. Sugar coming from fruit and whole food sources is different from sugar coming from processed foods. Remember to not fear an entire food group such as fruit and carbohydrates because they contain so many nutrients and minerals that your body needs to thrive.
Let’s get into why dates should be incorporated into your diet!
Dates are a high source of energy, as 100 grams of flesh can provide an average of 314 calories. Ten minerals were reported, the major being selenium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. The consumption of 100 grams of dates can provide over 15% of the recommended daily allowance from these minerals. Vitamins B-complex and C are the major vitamins in dates. High in dietary fiber, insoluble dietary fiber was the major fraction of dietary fiber in dates. They are also a good source of antioxidants, mainly carotenoids and phenolics.
Date seeds contain higher protein and fat as compared to the flesh. It is also high in dietary fiber, phenolics and antioxidants. This detailed information on nutritional and health promoting components of dates and their seeds will enhance our knowledge and appreciation for the use of dates in our daily diet and their seeds as a functional food ingredient.
What are the health benefits of dates and why should you be incorporating them into your diet?
High in fiber: This supports healthy digestion and bowel regularity
High in potassium, iron, B vitamins, copper, and magnesium
They have a low to medium glycemic index which is contributed from the high fiber content meaning they won’t give you a sugar rush
Great for baking substitutions: It is a source of fructose which is a natural type of sugar in fruit
Contains antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid: This is important to protect your cells from oxidative damage that may lead to chronic diseases
May promote natural labor: A study was done on 69 women who consumed 6 dates per day 4 weeks before their due date. Results showed that these women were 20% more likely to go into labor than those who did not consume dates.
The Date Lady is the best date company I have found and there is not one product of theirs that I don’t like! Every single product uses organic dates and high quality ingredients, which is crucial when it comes to consuming produce. I actually use their date sugar and date syrup as sweetener replacements when baking. My code “krissy” gets you 15% off any of their products!
I use both their date sugar and date syrup so much that I am sharing how I use BOTH of these to make homemade jam below! I love putting this jam on homemade sourdough bread or on top of my yogurt bowls!
Place all ingredients into a saucepan
Bring to a boil while stirring and mashing fruit with a potato masher
Lower heat to a simmer and stir often, until thickened for about 20 minutes
Take the pot off the heat and let it cool
Once cooled, place in a clean glass mason jar and store in the fridge for up to 1 month
Al-Farsi MA, Lee CY. Nutritional and functional properties of dates: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Nov;48(10):877-87. doi: 10.1080/10408390701724264
Eid N, Osmanova H, Natchez C, et al. Impact of palm date consumption on microbiota growth and large intestinal health: a randomised, controlled, cross-over, human intervention study. Br J Nutr. 2015;114(8):1226-1236. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002780
Alkaabi, J.M., Al-Dabbagh, B., Ahmad, S. et al. Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutr J 10, 59 (2011).
Rahmani AH, Aly SM, Ali H, Babiker AY, Srikar S, Khan AA. Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014;7(3):483-491. Published 2014 Mar 15.
Roleira FM, Tavares-da-Silva EJ, Varela CL, et al. Plant derived and dietary phenolic antioxidants: anticancer properties. Food Chem. 2015;183:235-258. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.03.039
Al-Kuran O, Al-Mehaisen L, Bawadi H, Beitawi S, Amarin Z. The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2011;31(1):29-31. doi:10.3109/01443615.2010.522267