Dates are tasty and sweet and offer a nutritious alternative to processed sweets. Here are five things you need to know...
The fruits of date palms pack a nutritional punch. The most common dates in the United States are the Medjool and Deglet Noor varieties, which boast relatively equal nutritional values. Dates boost your energy while pacifying your hunger, and your body benefits from their health-promoting nutrients. Dates are delicious and nutritious, here’s what you need to know.
Date palms, were brought to America's Western coast by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s. Medjool dates, one of the most prominent varieties, originated in Morocco and were introduced in the US in 1927 when just 11 shoots were planted. Medjools are the only variety that can be picked and eaten fresh. Don’t expect to plant a seed and get some sweets immediately! Date palms begin to bear fruit after three to five years, and are fully mature at 12 years. Cultivated in arid regions of the world, wild populations can still be found around Jordan and the border between Iran and Iraq.
Potassium Powerhouse. Potassium isn’t just necessary for blood pressure balance, your body needs this essential mineral for normal repair, to build proteins and muscle, to metabolize carbohydrates and more. A cup of chopped Deglet Noor dates contains 964 milligrams, or 20.5 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for adults.
Magnesium aids protein synthesis, blood sugar control and muscle and nerve function in your body, and it helps regulate blood pressure. Consuming a cup of chopped dates provides your body with 63 milligrams of magnesium. That amounts to at least 15 percent of the RDI for men and 20 percent for women.
Dates are an excellent source of fiber, providing 11.8 grams per cup. Your digestive system requires fiber to function well and fiber in dates helps to move waste smoothly through your colon and helps prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol absorption.
Dates are also a good source of vitamin B6. B6 is one of several B vitamins required for proper production of neurotransmitters - our brain chemicals and messengers. GABA, dopamine, and serotonin, arguably the three most wellknown neurotransmitters, all require B6 for synthesis. A cup of Deglet Noor chopped dates contains 0.24 milligrams, or at least 14 percent of the RDI.
Look for dates that are fresh without additives or preservatives, they can be found in bulk and prepackaged.