Medjool Dates-Healthy Sugar Alternative

Medjool Dates-Healthy Sugar Alternative

It’s widely known that fruits provide many health benefits, so when something is referred to as “nature’s power fruit” it SHOULD get our attention, right?  Well, Medjool dates are referred to as just that–NATURE’S POWER FRUIT!

Packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, the health benefits are remarkable. These edible sweet fruits of the date palm tree make great natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives, but they’re not just delicious. They’ve also been proven to decrease cholesterol and boost bone health and who doesn’t want that?

What exactly are Medjool dates, and what makes them so beneficial?  Read on to find out.

What Are Medjool Dates?

There are many varieties of dates available worldwide, but the Medjool date is one of two of the most commercially produced varieties within the U.S. The other most commonly produced is the Deglet Noor (or Nour) date, but Medjools are larger, softer and sweeter. Medjool dates can be consumed fresh or dried, and it’s common for them to be dried, which lengthens their life span and prevents early spoilage.

Medjool dates have a deep brown skin color with a flavor that can be described as caramel-like. When holding a dried Medjool date in your hand, you first feel its firm yet wrinkled texture, but don’t make any quick judgments because, upon biting into a Medjool date, you will see that the inside is actually moist and meaty.

Medjool dates vary greatly in size, and at present there are no industry standards for size. You will sometimes see Medjool dates described as “large,” “jumbo” or “super,” which is a general reference to their length as well as their circumference.

Once you get a hang of how to incorporate Medjool dates into your daily diet and recipes (see below for some great recipes on this site!), they will quickly become one of your favorite raw food kitchen staples!

6 Health Benefits of Medjool Dates

1. Decrease Cholesterol
Medjool dates are a wise choice when it comes to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. When you eat them, you increase your insoluble and soluble fiber intake, which in turn can significantly lower cholesterol naturally, particularly LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. As we know, LDL cholesterol is a major contributing factor to heart attacks, heart disease and stroke, making these tasty dates a great heart-healthy option.

2. Prevent & Relieve Constipation
If you’re reading a list of top foods for constipation relief, don’t be surprised if you see dates on the list. The high fiber content of Medjool dates make them a smart choice when it comes to keeping yourself regular.  Dates have high levels of soluble fiber, which keep bowel movements regular by adding bulk to stool and helping it move faster through the intestines. Next time you’re looking for a natural constipation relief remedy, try having a few Medjool dates.  

3. Boost Energy
Need a new go-to for your pre-workout snack or a healthy post-workout option? Try Medjool dates!  Once you try a Medjool date, you won’t be surprised to learn that dates are higher in sugar than many other fruits. However, dates are high in natural sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars are easily processed and utilized by the body for energy.

Consuming a few Medjool dates or including them in a snack is an excellent idea when you’re looking for a healthy surge of energy. Worldwide, dates are used for an afternoon pick-me-up to ward off tiredness. Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, try a smoothie recipe that includes some Medjool dates! (See link below for Coconut Banana Date Shake.)

4. Reduce Triglyceride Levels
Medjool dates can give your heart a healthy boost. A  study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found Medjool dates are high in antioxidative properties in vitro. Ten healthy subjects consumed 100 grams daily of either Medjool or Hallawi dates for four weeks. According to the study, the consumption of Medjool dates reduced blood triglyceride levels by 8 percent among the participants.

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. Having a high level of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease so it’s important to keep your triglycerides at a normal level (less than 150 milligrams per deciliter).

5. Sweeten Naturally
If nature had an actual candy store, Medjool dates would be front and center. When you eat a Medjool date, it can be hard to process that it really is a piece of fruit because it has such candy-like qualities.

Medjool dates are undeniably sweet, but in a completely unprocessed sort of way—so, as long as you don’t overdo it, there is no guilt associated with these caramel-like gems.

Research has shown that there is a direct link between increased sugar consumption in food and increased diabetes rates. We all should aim to keep our sugar intake down and be mindful of our sources of sugar. A delicious fruit, like a Medjool date, provides a truly satisfying alternative to eating those refined sugar treats.

6. Boost Bone Health
The significant amounts of key minerals found in Medjool dates make them superstars when it comes to strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating bone diseases like osteoporosis. Dates are high in calcium and phosphorus, which work closely together to build strong bones and teeth.  Phosphorus is also required to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium, and zinc. Calcium also keeps the heart, nerves, muscles and other body systems working properly.  As people begin to age and their bones start to become weaker, maintaining a diet high in both calcium and phosphorus can ward off unpleasant bone degradation. Eating Medjool dates regularly is one way that you can up your intake of calcium and phosphorus.

Medjool Dates Nutrition Facts

One Medjool date contains 66 calories, 15.95 grams of sugar and 0 trans fats. Since dates are naturally rich in carbohydrates (17.99 milligrams in a single date), they are an excellent source of energy. Medjool dates are also loaded with many vitamins and minerals.

One serving (100 grams) of Medjool dates contains:

  • 6.7 grams fiber (26.8 percent DV)
  • 696 milligrams potassium (19.9 percent DV)
  • 54 milligrams magnesium (13.5 percent DV)
  • 0.25 milligrams vitamin B6 (12.5 percent DV)
  • 1.61 milligrams niacin (8 percent DV)
  • 64 milligrams calcium (6.4 percent DV)
  • 62 milligrams phosphorus (6.2 percent DV)
  • 0.06 milligrams riboflavin (3.5 percent DV)
  • 0.05 milligrams thiamine (3.3 percent DV)
  • 149 IU vitamin A (3 percent DV)
  • 0.44 milligrams zinc (2.9 percent DV)

Where to Find & How to Use Medjool Dates

Medjool dates can be found in your local grocery store in the fresh and/or dried fruit aisle. Dried Medjool dates are also likely to be found at your nearest health store, often in the bulk section, which will give you the greatest amount of dried dates for the lowest price.

Medjool dates come with the pit inside of them because the fruit is too soft to put in a mechanical pitter. While having to deal with pits is not ideal, the pit can be removed very easily. Simply make a small, lengthwise slice into the date with a knife, pull out the pit and that’s it you have a delicious Medjool date ready for consumption! It’s also extremely easy to remove the pit with your fingers.

Last but not least, when Medjool dates are made into a paste, they become an awesome, nutrient-dense sugar substitute. Date paste can be used one-to-one in most recipes, unlike stevia, and it adds bulk for baking.

How to make date paste:
1. Soak Medjool dates in hot water until soft. If the water reaches room temperature and the dates aren’t soft enough, soak in hot water again.
2. Reserve the soaking liquid, as it’s integral to making a good paste!
3. Add the soaked dates to your food processor, along with one tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Blend until smooth. Add more water as needed to create a thick rich paste.

You’re looking for the consistency of peanut butter. Use the paste in your favorite cookie or cake recipe to cut out refined sugar and boost the nutrients.

Possible Side Effects of Medjool Dates

As with any fruit, it’s important not to overdo it when consuming Medjool dates due to their high natural sugar content. Pay attention to serving sizes, and monitor your blood sugar if you are a diabetic. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a half cup of dried fruit like Medjool dates equals one serving of fruit. A half cup of Medjool dates is a very satisfying serving whether you consume them alone or within a recipe. 

It’s possible to have a food allergy to Medjool dates. If you experience any symptoms of a food allergy such as a runny nose, tongue swelling, itchy eyes or facial redness, then discontinue consumption of Medjool dates and seek medical attention.

RECIPES USING MEDJOOL DATES

PECAN COCONUT BALLS

APPLE CRISP

COCONUT BANANA DATE SHAKE

ALMOND DATE TRUFFLES

COCONUT CREAM FRUIT TARTS

SHAVED PARSNIP SIDE SALAD

COCONUT DATE BITES

 

Comments

  1. Hi Jackie Davis,
    I love your blog. I’ve noticed that you use medjool dates in a lot of your recipes. Can you recommend the best places to purchase these as they appear to be very expensive?

    • Hi Melissa — Thank you! I get mine locally at HEB. You can also get them in the “bulk” bins at a pretty good price at Whole Foods, as well.

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