Dried dates are more than just a fruit or a natural sweetener. They are one of the oldest fruits grown by humans, and they add a decadent caramel flavor to everything they touch.
Dates are a powerhouse of benefits, with more antioxidants and anti-disease minerals than many other natural sweeteners. These tiny gemstones also contain the highest levels of antioxidants in nuts and have the power to fight inflammation.
In fact, the nutritional content of dates is comparable to that of manuka honey. Both contain B vitamins and minerals like copper, iron, and potassium. Dates can even fight bacteria like staph and E. coli faster than manuka honey! This makes it a forgiving sweetener that can make you feel really good about yourself.
Let’s dive into the ancient history of dates as well as the delicious ways to include this mineral-rich fruit in your diet.
Dates: An Ancient Cure
When you indulge in one of these chewy fruits, you know you indulge in an ancient part of history too. The date palm is one of the oldest man-made plants, and researchers estimate that dates have been used as food for over 6,000 years.
The exact origin of the data is still uncertain, but the general consensus is that it came from the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. Ancient texts and dating tools narrowed it down to the region of what is now Iraq, but other texts suggest that it may have come from prehistoric Egypt or even the West Indies.
Regardless of their precise origins, dates have played an important role in all of these regions throughout history. They were used as a source of food, as well as in religious ceremonies and medical systems.
In Islam, dates are used to break a one-day fast during the holy month of Ramadan, while dates are one of the seven sacred fruits of the Hebrew Bible. Researchers have also found the date palm in Egyptian hieroglyphics, where it was used as a symbol for a year.
They also appear on ancient Assyrian and Babylonian tablets, including the Hammurabi Code, which deals with the laws of growing and selling dates.
Data were also estimated for their anti-disease effects. In Islamic culture, they were hailed as a cure for stomach problems, sore throats, colds, fevers, edema, and even as hangover cures.
Where Do You Find Dates?
Dates grow on the date palm, which is similar to a coconut palm but a different type of palm with smaller fruits. They are mainly found in deserts and arid regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, but also in American deserts such as southern California.
You’ve probably seen Medjool dried dates in your health food store, but there are actually over 200 varieties around the world. Many remain important staples in and around the Middle East, where they are a concentrated food source of many vitamins and minerals.
Medjool and Deglet Noor are the most common varieties here in America and are always sold dry on the way to our shelves to protect nature. They’re sweet and chewy, with a caramel flavor that, depending on the variety, can be fat and chocolatey or light with a hint of vanilla.
The 10 Most Important Benefits of Dates
What does the research say about this beloved fruit? It turns out that many of the ancient benefits can be supported by modern science, and other benefits are regularly discovered by researchers.
1. Dates Are High in Nutrients
Data provides a high dose of many essential nutrients. Many of these nutrients are usually the cause of deficiencies. Dates include moderate doses of potassium, magnesium, copper, fiber, manganese, and iron.
Interestingly, many of these minerals are lost through sweat, which may be one of the reasons dates were so popular in desert regions. They provide a concentrated source of these minerals to help keep your balance, which also makes them a great pre or post-workout snack.
2. Dates Pack in Antioxidants
Dates are extremely rich in antioxidants. These are compounds that help neutralize free radicals. These are molecules that we are exposed to from pollution, stress, or poor diet that damage our DNA and cause aging and disease.
Studies show that data has one of the highest concentrations
3. Dates Can Improve Digestion
Appointments can also help shake things up on your stomach. They are a rich source of fiber that helps maintain regular bowel movements.
One study found that a group of people who ate seven dates a day for 21 days saw improvements in bowel frequency. They also had a significant increase in bowel movements compared to before starting dates.
4. Dates Fight Inflammation
Research shows that chronic inflammation is the leading cause of many diseases such as colitis, asthma, and even cancer. Antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols in dates help fight widespread inflammation by neutralizing free radicals and repairing damaged DNA.
Flavonoids in particular can even help protect against diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, in which inflammation can play a role.
5. Dates Promote Brain Health
If you want to keep a good memory and nourish your brain cells, make a couple of appointments a day.
Studies show that the antioxidants in dates can reduce markers of inflammation in your brain, which can contribute to brain disorders and affect memory.
Other animal studies also show that mice that eat dates have significantly better memory, better learning skills, and less anxiety than mice that do not eat dates.
6. Date Might Help Induce Labor
Interestingly, dating can also help women with childbirth. Research shows that dates can promote widening of the cervix in the final weeks of pregnancy, which can help reduce work hours and the need to induce labor.
One study found that women who ate six dates a day four weeks before their due date were 20% more likely to begin labor naturally. They were also much shorter on the job than women who didn’t eat them.
7. Date Improve Blood Sugar
Although dates are high in natural sugar, they have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much a food increases blood sugar. In general, and especially if you have blood sugar problems, you want to eat foods with a low index.
The high content of natural fiber in dates helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream and keep the glycemic totem low.
8. Dates Help Fight Cancer
The data is rich in polyphenols, a class of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables that can slow and even stop cancer cell growth.
This is because they not only help fight the damage caused by cancer-causing free radicals, but they also interact with enzymes and membranes on cancer cells to prevent them from spreading.
9. Dates Boost Eye Health
You can also improve your eyesight by indulging in this sweet fruit. Dates contain another class of antioxidants called carotenoids. In particular, they are rich in two carotenoids, lutein and beta-carotene, which are known to be great for protecting and maintaining eye health.
10. Dates Are Truly Naturally Sweet
Dates are very sweet, of course, with a rich caramel flavor. You can easily use them in place of sugar and get all of your minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
While they’re still high in sugar, they contain far more nutrients than regular table sugar. They even outperformed natural sweeteners like agave and maple syrup, which are still somewhat processed.
How to Enjoy Dates
There is a saying that goes, “There are as many uses for data as there are days in a year.” With the multitude of date products available today, you know it’s true.
The best thing about date products is that they can be used as nutrient-rich sugar substitutes. Here are a few options:
Dried dates are a classic way of consuming the fruit. They can be eaten on their own as a sweet snack or even added to smoothies or cut into paleo goodies.
This sugar made from dried dates can replace normal sugar with a booster full of vitamins and minerals. It is best used as a substitute for sugar in baking because, unlike regular sugar, it does not melt or dissolve in water when heated.
Date syrup, or silane, is one of the best alternatives to sugar. It contains the same minerals and antioxidants as whole dates but also mixes and dissolves well in recipes because it’s liquid. This makes date syrup a great antioxidant-rich substitute for maple syrup or cooking sugar. You can even add a touch of syrupy, mineral-rich goodness to your coffee without having to deal with granulated date sugar.