Many people think that healthy food and tasty treats do not cross paths, but this is not always the case. The high sugar content of many dried fruits mean that the nutritious goodness of antioxidant-rich fruit is sometimes delivered in a tasty, convenient package.
Grown throughout the Middle East, date palm trees provide a staple fruit in many cuisines. The dark fruit of the date palm is high in natural sugars. Like more widely eaten fruits such as apples, dates come in several varieties with Medjool and Deglet Noor being the most common. Though regionally available at harvest time as fresh fruit, most people the world over who consume dates will encounter them dried to help provide a long shelf life.
Used as a natural sweetener for centuries, dates are now prized for their value in helping you maintain good heart health. Date fruits also have a role to play in helping you manage your cholesterol, and have been identified as having anti-inflammatory properties. A quick list of some of the major nutrients in these Mediterranean fruit include:
In addition to these vitamins and minerals, the high levels of dietary fiber in dates can help keep you healthy as well. By adding bulking fiber to your diet, dates can help fight constipation, improve gut motility, and help you eat less by making you feel full faster.
If you think of dietary changes that lower your risk of heart disease, you might initially think of bland diets free of salt and full of veggies. While a bit less sodium and some more greens are often a good thing, adding antioxidant-rich fruits high in tannins and anthocyanins such as dates can also help lower your risk of a heart attack.
One concern for many people as they age, especially women, is the area of bone health. Osteoporosis can severely harm your quality of life, and preserving bone health through your later years takes intentional diet and lifestyle choices. Packing your diet full of foods that provide calcium, and other nutrients like magnesium that help your body absorb it, can go a long way to ensuring proper bone health as you age.
There is even some evidence to suggest that dates could play a role in helping to fend off Alzheimer’s disease. As research continues to demonstrate the benefits of lowering the oxidative stress on your body over time, evidence is piling up that dark-colored fruits such as elderberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and even pomegranates can play a role in helping preserve cognitive function as you age. While a bowl of berries may not save your brain all on its own, every little bit counts when you are building a diet to help maintain physical and mental health into your later years.
One of the common side effects of eating any dried fruit is the high levels of dietary fiber they contain. This can sometimes catch people off-guard, as snacking on fruit can allow you to easily lose track of how much you are eating. Since dried and fresh dates carry roughly the same nutritional content, eating a handful of dried dates can mean the constipation-fighting power of these dates suddenly goes into overdrive.
Natural sugars like fructose are generally more healthy for you than artificial sweeteners, but for those on low-carb diets or individuals with insulin sensitivities may have some cause for caution when it comes to fruit like dates.
Very young children or pregnant women often have to take care with what they eat, but thankfully dates are generally considered safe for everyone to consume. The only rare exception to this rule is a small subset of people who experience an allergic reaction to dates.
Whether you are adding a little sweetness to savory dishes or just trying to add a little nutritional value to products like granola bars or smoothie blends, the choice to use dates is a wise one. In many parts of the world, dried fruit can be found at nearly every grocery store or supermarket. Even if the variety of dates on offer is not terribly wide, common varieties such as Medjool will likely be available.
One of the hidden strengths of this sweet fruit is the ability to use it to replace other sweeteners in all sorts of recipes. Swapping out chocolate chips, artificial sweeteners, or other natural sugars for dates are all opportunities to pack a little more nutritional punch in a recipe without losing the crave-able sweet taste we know and love.
This mixture of sweet taste and nutrition density is part of what attracts many home chefs to using dried dates in their recipes. Homemade nutrition bars and energy balls can be made with a mixture of nuts, granola, honey, and dried fruit like dates.
The sweet, nutritious date is also a go-to fruit for producing food at scale. With a relatively low glycemic index, dates are perfect candidates for inclusion in a variety of products where other sugars or sweeteners might be a concern.
When working with any fruit solid, flexibility is the name of the game. Getting the size and texture of every ingredient right is crucial to a delectable final product. This is why, at FruitSmart, we offer many different options from powders to pieces in our dry dates.
Flexibility, quality, and consistency are all part of the value FruitSmart offers to its partners. Our exacting production processes and commitment to sourcing quality ingredients from the best growers mean we can offer the brands we work with uncompromising flavors, colors, and nutrition to make their final products stand out in a crowded market.
If you have been looking to make a move in the clean-label direction by swapping sweeteners for natural ingredients, or if you are ready to learn more about our extensive line of products, contact FruitSmart today.