Refined sugar is proving problematic for our health. But what are the natural alternatives? Well how about dates!
What’s not to love about dates? They’re soft, sweet and sticky – perfect for adding natural sweetness to a superfood smoothie. But dates don’t just taste good, they have an impressive number of health benefits too. The world’s oldest cultivated fruit, the date palm has been used for millennia to prevent and treat a whole range of illnesses.
In this post, we’ve rounded up the top health reasons to say goodbye to refined sugar, and hello to dates.
What are Dates?
The dates you see in the health food store are dried fruit from the date palm tree. These sweet caramel-like nuggets are packed full of fructose, making them a superb replacement for the white stuff in smoothies and desserts. But unlike refined sugar, dates are also packed full of nutrients. Loaded with B and C vitamins, each date boasts an impressive amount of iron, calcium and potassium, making them heart and bone friendly.
From the plump Medjool to the syrupy Barji, there are plenty of date varieties to choose from. With varying levels of sweetness, each one is a little bit different – all the more reason to experiment until you find you favorite. Just remember not to go overboard. While dates might be a nutrient powerhouse, they’re also very sweet, so enjoy in moderation.
The Health Benefits of Dates Over Refined Sugar
1. Improve Digestive Health
Like most dried fruit, dates are known for their laxative effect. Boasting high levels of soluble fiber, they can play an important part in promoting healthy bowel movements and easing constipation.
To get the most of your dates, try soaking them in water overnight and eating two or three in the morning. Not only will the syrupy fruit kickstart your digestive system, but it makes a delicious topping for oatmeal or an acai bowl.
2. Strengthen Your Bones
Dates are packed full of magnesium, calcium, manganese and selenium – essential minerals for healthy bone development and strength. Not only that, but dates boast a high amount of phosphorus. Vital for the growth, maintenance and repair of all tissues and cells, phosphorus also helps strengthen bones. Just another reason to trade out the white stuff for dates.
3. Boost Your Energy
Dates are loaded with natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. While this means you should always enjoy these sweet treats in moderation, it also explains why they’re are so effective as a natural energy booster. So when you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, try munching on a couple of dates. The natural sugars will give you the instant boost you need, without having to reach for any sugar-packed snacks.
4. Reduce Triglyceride Levels
Low triglyceride levels are essential for a healthy heart, which is why it’s essential to eat food that helps keep these levels balanced. Enter the humble date. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the heart-healthy antioxidants in Medjool dates could play a part in reducing triglyceride levels. Researchers found that 10 healthy subjects who consumed 100 grams of dates daily, saw their blood triglyceride levels reduce by eight percent. While more research needs to be carried out, it seems that eating a date a day may well keep the doctor away.
5. Treat Allergies
Dates are special in that they contain organic sulfur – a compound that has a wide range of health benefits. One of these is the reduction of allergic reactions and seasonal allergies. While to date there have been no studies carried out on dates in particular, research has shown that organic sulfur compounds can help those suffering from SAR (Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis). By boosting the amount of sulfur in our diets, dates could well play a part in steering off those irritating allergies.
Still not convinced about making the switch to a natural alternative to sugar? Read more about some of the disturbing health risks posed by high sugar intake.