The Nutritional Power of Dates

The Nutritional Power of Dates

Zachari Breeding, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND

Dates are a native fruit to the Middle East, where they have been part of the region’s cuisine for thousands of years. They can be enjoyed anywhere from fresh to partially dehydrated, though American culture typically knows them to be dried. At first glance, dates may just seem like another dried fruit. Though this is technically true, dates offer a much greater nutritional one-two punch compared to other dried fruits.

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room and state the obvious – the sugar content in dates are high, the flavor of which becomes more intense the longer dates dry and moisture leaves the fruit. The flavor is caramel-like, with a chewy and rich texture. But does this mean that dates are bad for you? Not exactly.

The most notable difference between dates and other dried fruits is the fiber content. The importance of fiber is multifactorial. The primary type of fiber found in dates is insoluble fiber, which can help promote bowel motility and colon health. Fiber is not only healthful, but it balances out the sugar content. Let’s put it this way: 1 serving of dates generally have more fiber than that of whole grains. This high amount of fiber helps delay the absorption of sugar found in the dates, allowing for a slow and easy release of energy over a period of time. Furthermore, we know that high fiber snacks are beneficial for those with diabetes as they prevent sugar spikes and promote satiety. When the sugar absorbs slowly into the body, insulin has more time to utilize the sugar for energy. Compared to say, a candy bar (high in sugar without fiber), the sugar absorbs so quickly that the body’s insulin doesn’t have enough time to grab it all to support basic metabolic needs and lasting energy. Because of this, dates are great as a pre-workout or midday snack, especially when your hunger pang can no longer be ignored.

Dates join the ranks of bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, and avocados as being considered a high potassium food. Potassium is an important mineral that serves as an electrolyte and helps support heart health, muscle contractions, nerve impulses, and blood pressure. Because our body doesn’t make its own potassium, we need to consume it through healthful food choices.

An increasing area of interest in the world of nutrition are phytonutrients, which include flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants and are a natural component of dates. Phytonutrients such as flavonoids are useful in reducing the amounts of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are often associated with disease and inflammation; the more free radicals in our body, the more likely we are to develop a certain disease or condition. Inflammation is the cornerstone of most disease states, so consuming a diet rich in phytonutrients can reduce the risk of certain conditions - such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

7D VARIETY packs these little guys up for your convenience – each serving is packed with nutrition, enough fiber to allow that unexpected sweetness to give you sustained energy, and the potential for long-lasting health benefits.