THE FOOD SERIES: Dates

Nature’s candy at its best. Anyone else like to eat them by the bowl? No? Just me?

DESCRIPTION:

There are more than 1500 varieties of dates that are grown around the world. Medjool dates are among the most popular as they are large, caramel-like, soft in texture, rich in flavour and the sweetest as well.  Although they are the hardest to grow and therefore the most expensive to purchase, the are the only variety of dates that can be picked and eaten fresh.

Colours of dates range from honey yellow, to red, and of course brown. When you are able to purchase fresh dates, they should be plump with a rather glory and moist skin. Most of us find dates that are seem dried, however they have actually just lost water content and thus their plumpness. Instead these dates may look wrinkly however should still be rather plump and glossy with an even colour.


PRODUCTION:

Grown in warm climates, dates are produced primarily in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and many more of the Middle East regions.

Other parts of the plant is also used, such as the seeds which are soaked and ground up for animal feed, date seed oil is also used in soaps and beauty cosmetics. The sap from the plant is used for palm wine, and the leaves are used for Palm Sunday in the Christian religion and used for making huts as well as other products such as mats, baskets and fans.


NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:

1 Medjool date:

66.5 kcal
18.0 g Carbs
1.6 g Fiber
0.0 g Fat
0.4 g Protein
0.1 mg Vitamin B6
0.1 mg Copper
13.0 mg Magnesium
0.1 mg Manganese
167.0 mg Potassium

Ahhhh potassium, a mineral we have not discussed! Potassium is an electrolyte (meaning it conducts electrical impulses throughout the body) that is needed for proper function in all of our tissues. Potassium regulates blood pressure and our heart rate, involved in muscle contraction, regulates the water and acid base balance, aids protein synthesis and glucose metabolism. It is not produced naturally in the body so it is important to consume the appropriate and right amount foods with potassium. A deficiency can result in weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, constipation, depression, hypertension, and congestive heart failure.

With the presence of a variety of other nutrients, there are also many other benefits. Dates being a fresh fruit that contains natural and simple sugars like fructose, allows for easy digestion and also rich in dietary fiber. As many of us know, dietary fibre helps create bulk and move wastes, prevents LDL cholesterol absorption, keeps us fuller for longer and much more. Consuming dates in moderation can help protect us against damage to cells from free radicals, beneficial to the cardiovascular system such as decreasing risk of strokes and coronary heart disease, as well as reducing the risk of cancers.


WAYS TO ENJOY

Sweetener

If you’ve watched any of my recipe videos on Youtube, you would know how much I love using dates as a sweetener. It honestly is nature’s candy and can instantly sweeten up any dish you are making. Here is my chocolate date sauce recipe. Add this to literally anything such as cookies, bars, oatmeal, on top of pancakes, or simply blend with plant-based milk and make a deliciously sweet chocolate milk. YUM!

Snack

If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out. Simply de-seed a Medjool date, and add a spoonful of your favourite nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew…), close it up like a sandwich or taco and enjoy. Yup, so simple, so delicious, so filling, did I just blow your mind?

Recipes to try!


FUN FACTS

  • The word “date” comes from the Greek word daktylos, meaning finger.
  • Their shelf life lasts much longer than most fruits, because of their low water and high sugar content.
  • When they are first harvested, Medjool dates are around 20% water and dry naturally as they age.
  • Both the tree and fruit has a variety of uses, as a result, the date palm is known as the “tree of life” in the Middle East
  • Even though they are high in sugar content, many varieties still remain low on the glycemic index.
  • Like coconuts on palm trees, dates grow on date palm trees.
  • Dates are actually FRESH fruit, and not dried.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES 

 

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