Need a smart way to relieve your sugar cravings?
Look no further than dates, a naturally sweet treat that has become a trendy ingredient in bars, power balls, and dessert squares.
Read on to learn more about dates nutrition information and some simple ways to eat more of them.
What Are Dates?
Dates are the fruits of date palm trees. They’re one of the oldest cultivated foods known to man, with a history dating back to 4,000 BCE.
For centuries, people in the Middle East consume dates as a staple food and during religious ceremonies.
While you can eat dates straight from the tree, it’s more common to buy them dried.
Of all the date varieties, Medjool dates are the largest and easiest to find at the grocery store.
Dates Nutrition Facts
The first thing you’ll notice when eating a date is how sweet it tastes, which is reflected in its nutrition facts.
Are dates high in sugar?
Absolutely. Just one Medjool date contains 66.5 calories and 16 grams of sugar, meaning 96% of a date’s calories come from sugar!
Still, you can enjoy dates as part of a balanced diet, but because of their high sugar content, be conscious of how you incorporate them.
We highly recommend you not mindlessly snack on dates.
The Benefits of Eating Dates
1. Dates are rich in fiber
A half-cup of dates provides 6 grams of fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber forms a gel in the intestine, which binds to bile salts, saturated fats, and cholesterol, thus preventing it from entering the bloodstream.
This helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and overall heart health.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and is great for staying regular.
Because fiber can also help you feel fuller for longer, dates may be a helpful food for weight loss.
But make no mistake: You’ll still need proper portion control to create the calorie deficit for weight loss.
2. Dates are a natural sweetener
Despite the high sugar content, dates usually don’t contain added sugar, which is the stuff you should eat less of.
If you’re looking to boost your diet’s nutritional quality, dates can be a substitute for refined regular sugar, especially in baked goods.
How does this work?
Natural sugar is still sugar and will be metabolized the same way as added sugar.
But foods with natural sugars often contain fiber, which can help prevent a spike in blood sugar.
According to Brittany Crump, M.P.H., R.D., “You can also pair dates with a protein source like peanut butter to create a more balanced snack.”
3. Dates are a source of vitamin B6 and minerals
A half-cup of dates (approximately four) gives you 14% daily value (DV) for potassium, 12% DV for magnesium, and 12% DV for manganese.
You’re also getting 14% DV for vitamin B6, which plays a key role in metabolism.
FYI: Percent Daily Value (%DV) shows how nutrients in servings of food contribute to your daily diet. This helps you know if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient.
How to Add Dates to Your Diet
Dates are a calorie-dense, high-sugar food that you should consume in moderation.
There’s no specific recommendation for how many dates you should eat a day.
If you really enjoy them, it’s OK to eat dates every day, especially if you’re pairing them with other foods to create balanced meals.
Here are a few ways to add dates to your diet:
- Sweeten up your smoothies with dates. Blend a few dates along with veggies to create a naturally sweet smoothie.
- Slice dates into salads. A flavorful way to eat dates is sliced into a leafy green salad along with ricotta, feta, goat, or blue cheese.
- Enjoy dates with oats. If you typically start your day with high-fiber oats (good for you!), adding chopped dates can liven your meal with a burst of sweetness.
- Eat dates as a post-workout snack. Simple carbohydrates like the sugar found in dates can help replenish your muscle glycogen stores after a challenging workout. Pair dates with a protein, like a hardboiled egg or string cheese, to incorporate protein for muscle building and repair. Crump adds, “Dates can conveniently be carried and enjoyed during a long workout, especially outdoors.”
- Take your dates for a hike. Mix chopped dates with nuts to make a simple trail mix.
- Enjoy dates in energy balls. Make yourself a sweet snack in under 20 minutes by rolling dates into these Birthday Cake Energy Balls or No-Bake Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes.