Dates have been called “the world’s first energy snack.” Perhaps the first cultivated fruit (figs are the other contender), dates are as sweet as any dessert. But they’re energy powerhouses for any time, containing nutrients to jump-start the day and nourish us throughout it.
The date palm tree is believed to have originated in northern Africa. It was cultivated along the banks of the Nile River throughout the “fertile crescent.”*
*Also known as the “cradle of civilization,” this area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers comprised the lands we now know as Iraq, small portions of Iran and Turkey, the Levantine coast of the eastern Mediterranean (Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Syria and the West Bank) and Egypt’s Nile Valley.
Wild dates are not edible, but early horticulturalists discovered how to grow a version bearing sweet fruit. Whatever they did, a premium date has the sweetness of honey crossed with sugar syrup. The flesh is soft and easily digestible. Its simple sugars—fructose and dextrose—replenish energy quickly.
Why else should you snack on dates?
Dates are a succulent, sweet and healthful
substitute for cookies and other refined
sugar. Photo by Loooby | IST.
With only 24 calories per date (248 calories per 3.5 ounce/100 gram serving), dates are as satisfying as candy and baked goods stuffed with refined sugar and flour (empty calories). Yet dates are high in dietary fiber and contain more potassium than bananas. They are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free. And they contain an impressive number of vitamins.
The science behind dates is also impressive. The fruit is loaded with different antioxidants that help with cholesterol, inflammation, eyesight and various cancers.
As with any food, quality makes a big difference. There are luscious dates that are “food for the gods,” and sad, dried-out dates that at best should only be used for cooking and baking. If you can’t find good dates locally (we have this problem), you can buy them online. NutsOnline.com is a good source.
You can also find pitted dates and organic dates, plus delicious date confections: dates rolled in chopped nuts or coconut, or covered in chocolate.
TYPES OF DATES
Make it a date!
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