Date Varieties: Medjool

Dates are a sweet, high-energy food traditionally grown in the warm climates of the Middle East and North Africa. While you may have eaten dates before, you may not have realized that there are hundreds of varieties of dates. Each date type has specific growing, taste, and nutritional content characteristics. A popular type of date is the Medjool date.

MEDJOOL DATES AND ITS DIFFERENCE TO OTHER VARIETIES:

Medjool dates are of the semi-dry variety. Compared to other dates, Medjool dates are very sweet and moist with a chewy texture. They are often larger than other date varieties, as well. Because of these reasons, they are wonderful for stuffing or using in shakes, smoothies, or energy bars.

Additionally, Medjool dates have some unique characteristics when harvesting them. For example, it is a common practice with these dates to collect the dates that fall to the bottom of the net, which covers each cluster at each picking. Many are also harvested while they are immature and then ripened using the required temperature and time. In general, the aim is for a moisture content of 20-26% when fresh. Harvesting methods ensure that dates have the correct texture and quality for stores and customers. 

MEDJOOL DATES AND THEIR HEALTH BENEFITS:

Medjool dates contain essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B6. For example, a 100-gram serving of dates contains almost 7 grams of fiber and about 15% of your daily potassium requirements. These nutrients have been shown to provide a wide array of health benefits and may help to prevent many chronic diseases.

Studies showed that Medjool dates have significant antioxidant properties that may help prevent cancerous activity in the body. Studies also reported the high amount of phenolic compounds, known for their antioxidant properties, in Medjool dates. 

SHOPPING FOR AND STORING MEDJOOL DATES:

Look for Medjool dates that are soft and moist. They are often found in clear packaging, refrigerated in the produce section. Since Medjool dates are semi-dried, they last longer than fresh fruit. Dates can last up to 6 months in the refrigerator and one year in the freezer. Keep them in an air-tight container. 

HOW TO COOK WITH MEDJOOL DATES:

As mentioned, Medjool dates can be used in a variety of recipes. While they are often used in desserts, they can also be used in savory dishes or healthy snacks. One common recipe is using dates to make energy balls. In this application, dates are mixed with nut butters, oats, and other mix-ins in a food processor. They are then formed into balls to create an easy, nutrient-dense snack for on the go!

Of note, Medjool dates are not always the best date choice for baked goods, like scones. This is due to their higher moisture content. 

CONCLUSION:

While there are different types of dates to choose from, Medjool dates are an option you may want to try. They have a unique, chewy texture that allows versatility in many recipes. Additionally, they contain many important nutrients, including fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6! They also may help to reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases. Next time you are at the grocery store, be on the lookout for this tasty date variety!

Summary

Medjool dates are a specific semi-dried date from the Middle East and Northern Africa. They have many unique features, from how they are cultivated to how they taste. They are very sweet and chewy and often used in desserts. They are also nutrient-dense and may provide many health benefits if consumed. 

Scientific Information

Phenolic compounds: compounds that are  not nutrients but provide health-protective effects when consumed

Written by:
Leah Goebel, RDN
Registered Dietitian
Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian

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