Dates nutrition. Dates are a common food in Africa and the middle east, where they originated (around the cradle of civilization, near the Nile and Euphrates), but they haven't caught on that strongly in the United States. Which is a shame, because they're a really tasty little treat. They are an oval-shaped fruit, several centimeters long, whose color can range from red to brown to yellow. They grow on palm trees. They have a flesh part surrounding a hard shell, and hold one brown seed inside, which is usually not eaten. They kind of remind me of raisins. Very sweet tasting.
One serving of dates, about 25 grams, has about 70 calories. Which isn't too much, if you eat a typical 2,000-calorie diet. However, keep in mind that most of the calories in dates come from simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. This makes them a source of quick energy (which is why they're used to break fast during Ramadan), but can also make them a gut-buster if you go hog-wild and eat ten pounds of dates in a day. Don't do it! Resist the temptation!
They do have a decent amount of fiber, though—2 grams of fiber for every 16 grams of sugar. This makes them good for lowering your LDL cholesterol levels (read up on more cholesterol info if you need to learn why that's good for you!). It also makes dates a mild laxative. They can help if you're experiencing constipation. (Their laxative effect can also help prevent cancer cells from binding in the colon. Good to know; because nobody wants colon cancer!)
Another dates nutrition fact is that dates are good for friendly gut bacteria (probiotic bacteria). These good bacteria help to keep your digestive system healthy, so you can absorb the right nutrients from your food.
Dates Health Benefits: More Vitamins? Yes!
Dates contain tannins, which are anti-inflammatory, anti-hemorrhagic, and anti-infective. That's a lot of anti's, but they're all good anti's.
Dates contain vitamin A (an antioxidant, good for your skin, mucous membranes, and vision); beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein (antioxidants that help protect against those nasty free radicals); iron (which helps your blood carry oxygen); magnesium (good for bone growth); copper (helps produce red blood cells); manganese (antioxidant); potassium (which helps regulate your heart rate and blood pressure); calcium (good for your bones and teeth, in addition to blood clotting and muscular contraction); B vitamins including pyridoxine, riboflavin, panthothenic acid, and niacin; and vitamin K. Phew. That was a mouthful. (Unlike dates!)
How to Eat Dates
Dates can be eaten raw, or stuffed with fillings—look up some recipes or experiment! My favorite is to stuff them with Brazil nuts, which are a great source of selenium. (Not to mention a way to increase the health benefits of dates.)