Dates are high in natural sugar, so many people think they may not be good for them. However, these sweet fruits are packed with plenty of nutrients, making them an excellent snack in moderation.
Dates grow on date palms in small clusters. The term date comes from the Greek word daktulos, which means fingers.
Five benefits of eating dates
In addition to tasting great, dates contain protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are also:
- High in polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds that can protect the body from inflammation. Dates contain more polyphenols than most other fruits and vegetables.
- Alternative to empty-calorie sweets. Dates can satisfy a person’s sweet tooth while also providing essential nutrients, such as vitamin B-6 and iron.
- High in fiber. Just ¼ of a cup of dates provides 12 percent of a person’s daily fiber requirement. Fiber helps a person feel fuller for longer.
- High in potassium. Dates are high in potassium, which is an electrolyte the body needs for good heart health. Potassium also helps to build muscle and proteins in the body.
- Great for substitutions. People can replace the sugar, chocolate chips, or candies in baking recipes with dates to ensure they are eating natural sugars instead of refined sugars.
How to eat dates
Dates can be eaten fresh or dried, much like raisins. People can also add them to a variety of sweet or savory dishes.
Some examples of dishes that incorporate dates include:
- Stuffed dates: People can stuff dates with almonds, pecans, cream cheese, or pistachios for a snack or finger food.
- Salads: Chopped, sliced, or pitted whole dates are an excellent addition to salads.
- Smoothies: Blending dates into a banana smoothie adds natural sweetness and extra nutritional value.
- Stews: Dates taste great in Moroccan stews or tagine dishes.
- Energy balls: People can blend dates with nuts, cranberries, oats, coconut flakes, or a variety of other ingredients to make no-bake “energy balls.”