Sweet Foods: Dates, Fruits, and Vegetables

  • Many popular foods contain high levels of added sugars which can lead to the development of chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Fruits and vegetables provide a source of natural sweetness in addition to providing the body with healthy vitamins and minerals.
  • Dates are our top recommendation for a natural sweetener because they have high levels of fiber and other important vitamins and minerals, which allows them to have a high sugar content while maintaining a low glycemic index and providing the body with healthy nutrients.

Carbohydrates are an important fuel source for the human body. In fact, it gets broken down into sugars as the main source of energy. However, many sweet foods are loaded with artificial sugars and sweeteners. These added sugars are mostly found in popular sweets such as ice cream and sugary sodas. Unlike natural sugars, they are associated with chronic health conditions. These include obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Because of this, finding naturally sweet foods is important. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of this. The most notable out of all of them are dates. Not only are they naturally sweet. They are also loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins and minerals. This makes dates an excellent natural sweetener to incorporate into your diet. You will be able to satisfy your sweet cravings. All the while, you’ll also be providing your body with a healthy source of nutrients.

The Importance of Sweet Foods

We often seek out sweet foods because, well, let’s face it, they are delicious. But did you know that sweet foods actually serve an important role in our body? Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in human diets. They are broken down into sugar by our body. This sugar is stored in the form of glycogen, which is kept in reserve. They will eventually get used up once we perform activities that require energy. This glycogen can be used to power everything from basic metabolic functions to athletic activities.

You wouldn’t water a plant with Diet Coke. In the same way, it’s important to provide our bodies with naturally sweet foods that are high in quality. This will help us feel, look, and move our best. Naturally sweet foods contain simple carbohydrates (simple sugars) such as fructose, glucose, and lactose. These include many delicious whole fruits and vegetables.

What Are The Most Popular Sweet Foods?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular sweet foods tend not to be the best for us. This is because they mainly use synthetic sweeteners, also known as “high potency sweeteners.” These are used for their intense sweetness, and they have been added for centuries to processed goods. Some of the most popular sweet foods include:

  • ice cream
  • fast foods
  • apple pie
  • chocolate
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • cupcakes
  • brownies
  • sugar-sweetened beverages

These products, while popular, contain a high amount of added sugar. Added sugars are sugars that are added during the processing of foods. These include sucrose, which is our table sugar, or dextrose. They may also include sugars from added sweeteners. These are your honey and fructose. Some concentrated fruit and vegetable juices may also contain added sugars.

The biggest problem here is that it becomes very easy to over consume sugar in this way. For example, the FDA recommends less than 3 tablespoons of added sugar per day. This is for someone on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. This only comes out to about half a cup of ice cream or chocolate milk. Many people go way above this with just one snack!

When you consume high amounts of added sugar regularly, it can lead to large swings in your blood glucose. This has been shown to lead to overconsuming food. This will eventually become a pathway to obesity. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to an increase in weight. Obesity, among higher consumption rates of added sweeteners, is a top risk factor. It might lead to developing diabetes and certain cancers. These include pancreatic, colorectal, and endometrial cancers.

The good news is that there are naturally sweet foods available. They can help satisfy your sweet craving. At the same time, they will also provide high-quality nutrients for your body.

What are Naturally Sweet Fruits and Vegetables?

Our society is starting to understand more about health and the effect added sugars have on our bodies. Because of this, more people are looking for ways to incorporate naturally sweet foods into their daily diet. Fruits and vegetables contain total sugars. These are natural sugars, rather than artificial additives. It is not like the popular sweet foods mentioned before, such as ice cream and cookies. In fact, there is no recommended limit for natural sugars! They are mainly found in fruits and vegetables. Some of our top picks include:


  • Dates
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Pears
  • Peaches


  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Squash

However, one naturally sweet food takes the best spot – and that’s dates

Why Do Dates Make Excellent Sweeteners?

For those that don’t know, dates are fruits that are grown on date palm trees. These are grown in tropical regions around the world. Dates can be sold fresh or dried. In Western countries, they are typically sold dried. They are commonly identified by their wrinkly skin.  Dates are about the size of a large chestnut. They also typically have a dark maroon or purple color. The most common types sold in the United States are Medjool and Deglet Noor dates. 

One of the things that set dates apart is their natural sweetness and high sugar content. Unlike many other whole fruits and vegetables, they have a high fiber content as well. This makes them low-glycemic, which means your body digests dates more slowly. This means that the release of energy from dates will not make your blood sugar levels spike. This also helps regulate your blood pressure. All of these make dates a safe natural sweetener for diabetics. As mentioned earlier, sugar spikes often trigger overeating.  The rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar make you crave too much food. This can eventually lead to the development of diseases such as diabetes. Therefore, dates are a great choice to satisfy your sweet tooth while treating your body well!

Dates make excellent sweeteners. In addition to their low-glycemic index and high natural sweetness, they are fat-free and cholesterol-free as well. Dates are also sodium-free and gluten-free. In spite of that, it is still loaded with nutrients! Dates are high in important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B-6, magnesium, and calcium. They also contain important micronutrients like iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Dates are high in antioxidants. This is important in protecting your cells and preventing the onset of disease.

Dates are one of the best choices for naturally sweetest foods. Because of this, we highly recommend incorporating them into your everyday diet. You’ll be able to enjoy a sweet snack while providing your body with healthy nutrients. There are many easy ways to incorporate dates into your diet plan. This includes removing the pit and eating them with a little bit of yogurt or peanut butter. You may also blend them into a protein smoothie, or bake them into cakes or tarts. You can use them in place of added sugar! Dates can also be stuffed with cream cheese, pistachios, or almonds. You can even wrap them in bacon or prosciutto.

There really are so many ways to eat dates. No matter how you choose to incorporate dates into your diet, you can feel confident with your health.  You are choosing a form of natural sweets that won’t hurt your body in the long run. Talk about being a power food!


Sweet foods provide the body with a natural energy source–sugar. However, it’s important to get this energy from a high-quality source rather than added sugars and sweeteners. These harmful sweets have been linked to the development of chronic diseases. Meanwhile, whole fruits and vegetables are naturally sweet without containing added sugars. The most notable of these are dates. They are a naturally sweet food that maintains a low glycemic index. This means they do not lead to blood sugar spikes. Dates are an excellent natural sweetener. They have the ability to provide your body with long-lasting energy. They’ll also give you high levels of nutrients and disease-fighting properties. 

Scientific Information

  • Glycemic index – The Glycemic Index (GI) is a way to measure the effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels. When carbohydrates cause large blood sugar spikes, they are considered to have a high glycemic index. When carbohydrates are able to be digested and absorbed more slowly, they have a low glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods have been shown to be beneficial for maintaining healthy body weight, maintaining stable energy levels throughout the day, and preventing the development of chronic diseases. Dates are considered to have a low glycemic index.
  • Antioxidants – Antioxidants help prevent cells from being damaged by these free radicals and help the body stay healthy. Antioxidants are found in many fruits and vegetables, including dates.
  • Free radicals – Free radicals are naturally formed in the body when you exercise, convert food to energy, or are exposed to environmental free radicals such as pollution and sunlight. These free radicals can lead to cell damage which plays a role in the development of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Written by:
Josie Burridge
Nutritional Epidemiology and Biochemistry



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