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The Benefits of Medjool Dates
We’re bombarded with news about “superfoods”...the culinary superstars that promise to deliver more than their normal counterparts. Everyone knows by now about kale, olive oil, and green tea. Brace yourself, because the seductively sweet, brown Medjool date is on the list. From lowering blood pressure to increasing metabolism, they’ve got more going for them than their caramel-like flavor might lead you to believe. Read on to learn about the benefits of Medjool dates.
Dates come in many shapes and sizes. Medjools are the darlings of the date world with their massive size, sugary flavor, and soft, chewy texture. Bigger isn’t always better, but in this case, their size also comes with higher nutrient content and lower fat levels. If you love dates but consider them more of a treat than a healthy snack, prepare for a surprise. Medjool dates are an easy snack that can help you lose weight, control cravings, and meet your daily nutritional needs. Brands, such as Snack Less, already have you covered for natural fruit bars that contain these dates.
Health Benefits of Medjool Dates
Feeling of Fullness
One problem with sticking to a strict diet is the feeling of deprivation can lead to “cheating” or binge eating. Dates are packed with nutrients, minerals, and insoluble fiber. A single serving or less can leave you with a feeling of fullness. That feeling can suppress your appetite for hours, making it easier to avoid unhealthy snacking. What’s more, their sweetness can satisfy a craving for candy or desserts that might throw you off your weight-loss game.
Medjool dates outdo most fruits when it comes to dietary fiber. A single serving provides nearly twenty-five percent of your required daily intake. Why is this a big deal? A diet high in fiber helps your digestion run smoothly, which in turn enables you to absorb more nutrients. Dietary fiber lowers cholesterol levels and has been shown to reduce the formation of fatty deposits in arteries.
Medjool dates are high in B complex vitamins (niacin, pantothenic acid, and folic acid.) These vitamins help regulate your metabolism and support metabolic functions. Significant levels of copper also help you absorb the iron found in dates, which in turn boosts your energy levels. By offering high, sustained energy and a booming metabolism, this is one on-the-go snack that can keep you going strong all day.
Bone and Brain Boosting A recent clinical study shows mice that ate Medjool dates daily have a better memory function and learning ability. Chock full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, Medjool dates offer nutrients essential for growth and development. These same minerals also increase bone density, which means these easy, healthy snacks can make you smarter and stronger.
Rich in Anti-aging Antioxidants Antioxidants
give superfoods their reputations. They protect your body from unstable molecules that cause aging and disease. This variety of dates contain a greater amount of flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid than other dried fruits. These antioxidants are known to reduce inflammation and the risk of diabetes. They also promote heart health, support good vision, lower the risk of Alzheimer's, and protect against cancer and heart disease.
Blood Sugar Stabilizing
Despite a high sugar content, Medjool dates have a low glycemic index. They don’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes like other foods high in sugar. This makes them an excellent sugar substitute in recipes and a healthy snack alternative to other dried fruits.
History of Medjool Dates
People have been cultivating this mouth-watering fruit for thousands of years, dating back to the Middle East since at least 4000 BC. There are hundreds of varieties of this sticky, sweet fruit, but none so prized as the “king of dates.” Medjool dates come from
Growing a true-to-variety tree requires date palms to be cloned, or cultivated with offshoots taken from a “mother’ plant. That means every single Medjool date palm in America is a descendant of the original nine specimens that were imported to Nevada in the 1900s. Medjool date palms can grow up to one hundred and twenty feet tall and can live one hundred years.
Growing Your Own
You'll often see date palms in residential landscapes. If you have the right climate and a suitable sunny area, you could grow these dates at home, but the flowers often need to be hand pollinated. The trees are dioecious, meaning you need both a male and female to ensure you get fruit. A single tree in a date plantation can produce hundreds of pounds of dates a year. It's unlikely your trees will be that prolific. (commercial growers use artificial pollination to maximize yields.) Your palms will benefit from having
some neighboring plants that attract pollinators. Aloe Ferox works well since it attracts pollinating birds and bees and thrives in warmer environments.
Before you run out to buy some Medjool date palms, make sure your site meets a few criteria. You'll need a spot that receives full sun for most of the day. Your soil must not be too heavy: date palms prefer well-drained soil and enjoy sandy conditions. They also thrive in hot climates and fruit best when exposed to temperatures above ninety-five degrees. Mild winters are best for these trees since a freeze of fifteen degrees will damage the leaves. But with a little TLC, your palm can fully recover.
When planting a Medjool date palm, make sure to water it well for the first few months while it's getting established. Gardening always carries some risk, but you will want to exercise extra caution when placing these large, heavy trees in the ground. For very large trees, hire a professional. Fertilize three to four times a year during warm months, and you'll have a Medjool date factory in your yard in no time.
Incorporating Dates into Your Diet
On their own, dates make an all-natural snack you can enjoy anywhere. Stuff dates with nuts or nut butter for a blast of protein, and you’ve got a fitness snack. Three to four dates make up one serving, so it won’t take much to fill you up
Perfect in desserts or savory sauces, the sweetness of dates makes them a healthy alternative to sugar. To substitute dates for sugar in a recipe, measure the same amount of dates as the amount of sugar called for. Use a food processor, blender, or grinder to mix it in seamlessly.
Drink your Dates
Drop a date or two into a smoothie for a sweet, nutritious addition to your pre-workout meal. Blend up a date with your morning mocha for a delicious, sugar-free morning cup of Joe.
A Touch of Sweetness
Garnish a savory salad or a dollop of hummus with finely sliced dates for a flavor sensation. Toss some chopped dates into your hot oatmeal along with some berries for a superfood breakfast.
These are just a few ideas for bringing Medjool dates to the table in your everyday life. As you can see, the benefits of Medjool dates are so great and the possibilities vast (and delicious). If you prefer to simply to have an emergency snack box handy, Snack Less will be the solution. Once you get started there is no stopping you.
Kath Johnson is a writer, self-claimed nutritionist, and CrossFit junkie. She spends most of her time meal prepping and actively trying to beat personal records in the gym, but always enjoys a meditative walk through a nearby woodland area or near a lake.