Halloween is coming up, and if you’re looking for treats, I recommend trying dried dates, one of nature’s most delicious candies! There are literally hundreds of different varieties of dates, the most popular in the US being Deglet Noor and Medjool dates. These can be found easily in most grocery stores, health food shops, and for the best prices, in international or middle eastern grocery stores.
I call dates nature’s candy because they are 80% pure sugar! But don’t let this scare you. Despite being mostly sugar, dates are a low glycemic food, meaning they don’t raise blood sugar. When eaten in whole fruit form, the sugar in fruits doesn’t affect your body the way cane sugar and other high glycemic foods do. Research has shown that the consumption of dates has no adverse effects on blood sugar or weight because the fiber and phytonutrients in these foods slow down the absorption of that sugar in your body.
In other words, dates are amazing. Not only are the incredibly sweet and delicious, they are fat free and full of tons of amazing vitamins and minerals. The following are only a few of the benefits of including dates as a part of your diet:
- Help lower cholesterol (by preventing the absorption of LDL cholesterol) and triglyceride levels.
- Great source of potassium. Potassium helps prevent vascular diseases like heart disease and stroke. Additionally, potassium also helps keep your nervous system healthy and may even boost brain function.
- High in fiber, which makes them great for digestive health and for controlling blood sugar.
- Great source of vitamins A and K and other antioxidants that help reduce oxidative damage in the cells.
- Boosts immune system.
- Rich in calcium, so good for bone health.
- Rich in iron and therefore great for those with anemia.
- Good source of copper, magnesium, manganese, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.
There are many, many ways to include dates in your diet. Dates are a great sweetener for baked goods, a wonderful energy boost before a workout, and can be incorporated into granola, oatmeal, and other breakfast foods. My favorite way to eat dates? Straight out the box and dipped in cacao powder or natural peanut butter (or both!).
Diana Ruiz is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach in training. She is a spiritual activist, reiki practitioner, and has a passion for healthy plant-based food. You can follow her Instagram @datesanddimples and check out her website dianacruiz.com.
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