You’ve heard of dates, the delicious little middle eastern fruits. You may have even eaten a few chopped up in a candy or perhaps a date shake. But did you know that dates pack a nutritional punch, and that many varieties are low-glycemic, suitable for those with diabetes and other diseases? Because of this, dates can be dried and ground, producing “date sugar” or “date syrup,” and used in place of regular cane sugar or agave in any food recipe.
Ten minerals have been found in dates, the major being selenium, copper, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The consumption of 100 g of dates can provide over 15% of the recommended daily allowance from these minerals. Vitamins B-complex, A, and C are the major vitamins in dates. High in dietary fiber (8.0 g/100 g), insoluble dietary fiber was the major fraction of dietary fiber in dates. Dates are a good source of antioxidants, mainly carotenoids and phenolics. Dates are an excellent source of iron, consisting of 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI).
Dates can also help to reduce blood pressure. High in potassium and containing no sodium, the dates naturally balance and reduce high blood pressure.
A single date averages 21 calories.
A Low-Glycemic Food
Although dates contain sugar, many varieties are low-glycemic . A recent study focused on several varieties of dates: Fara'd, Lulu, Bo ma'an, Dabbas, Khsab, and Khalas. According to reseachers, “The results show low glycemic indices for the five types of dates included in the study and that their consumption by diabetic individuals does not result in significant postprandial glucose excursions. These findings point to the potential benefits of dates for diabetic subjects when used in a healthy balanced diet.” Another study showed that the date pits of 18 different varieties of dates, “depending on the variety, contain significant but quite variable amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients, but all varieties are excellent sources of dietary fiber and may therefore serve as important constituents of functional foods.”
Additionally, because dates contain fiber, nutrients, and antioxidents, using date sugar will not cause the insulin spike that cane sugar or agave will.
Using Dates as a Sugar Replacement
Using dates to replace the sugar in your food is very simple. Just blend a few dates in a food processor, and add to you dish until you reach your desired sweetness. You can also purchase date sugar, which is simply dried and ground dates, and replace the white or brown sugar in your recipe, 1 cup per 1 cup. Date syrup is also available, which is a molasses-consistancy, perfect for more delicate recipes such as puddings, ice creams, frostings, and other “wet” items. Date syrup can also be used as icing on muffins or cakes- perfect for a sweet, but healthy, treat for your kids.
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