Reasons To Eat Dates
It's Mother's Day and I'm thinking about my mom who lives 2,637 miles away from me in Leesburg, Virginia. My mom loves, loves dates so this blog is for her. A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated my 37th anniversary with my husband. We went to Palm Springs, California, and discovered Shields Date Farm, est. 1924. Dates were presented in so many different varieties and foods that I was blown away by the incredible way you can use dates. I bought dates rolled in coconut and nuts, date jam, and date coffee to ship to my mom for Mother's Day, and then bought a bunch of date sugar for myself. I also had a date shake (which inspired my kefir date shake - see below) and walked around the gardens, and I wished my mom was there to share the experience. So here is what I've learned about dates and why date sugar is my favorite sweetener to use for baked goods. Dates are nature's healthy treats!
"From little date seeds, great things are born."Namibian Proverb
Health Benefits and Dates
Dates Have an Excellent Nutrition Profile
Dates contain some important vitamins and minerals in addition to a significant amount of fiber.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving provides the following nutrients
- Calories: 277
- Carbs: 75 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Potassium: 20% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
- Copper: 18% of the RDI
- Manganese: 15% of the RDI
- Iron: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI
Fiber is one of my favorite things about dates and even date sugar. Getting enough fiber is important because it feeds your microbes which will in turn create greater wellness for you. Feed those microbes and they take care of you!
With almost 7 grams of fiber in a 3.5-ounce serving and 2 grams in 1 teaspoon of date sugar, including dates in your diet is a great way to increase your fiber intake.
Fiber can help the colon by promoting regular bowel movements since fiber contributes to the formation of stool.
In one study, 21 people who consumed 7 dates per day for 21 days experienced improvements in stool frequency and had a significant increase in bowel movements compared to when they did not eat dates.
Dates and Blood Sugar Control
Dates have the potential to help with blood sugar regulation due to their low glycemic index, fiber, and antioxidants.
Plants and their components play a significant role in the management of diabetes and show significant effects to manage the function of pancreatic tissues via an increase in insulin production and inhibit the intestinal absorption of glucose. The exact mode of action of dates in the control of diabetes is not fully understood, but it might be due to increases in the output of insulin and the inhibiting of the absorption of glucose. 
Eating dates may benefit diabetes management as the fiber in dates may be beneficial for blood sugar control. Fiber slows digestion and may help prevent blood sugar levels from spiking too high after eating. 
Dates and Your Brain
Eating dates may help your brain and lower inflammatory markers like interleukin 6 (IL-6) in the brain. High levels of IL-6 are associated with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, animal studies have shown dates to be helpful for reducing the activity of amyloid-beta proteins which can form plaques in the brain.  This is important because plaque accumulation in the brain may disturb communication between brain cells. This can ultimately lead to brain cell death and Alzheimer’s disease.
One animal study found that mice fed food mixed with dates had significantly better memory and learning ability, as well as less anxiety-related behaviors, compared to those that did not eat them. 
However, human studies are needed to confirm the role of dates in brain health.
I love date sugar and although most people don't use it as often as I do, here are the reasons I do. Date sugar tastes more like brown sugar and has a caramel taste. Date sugar is a different product than date palm sugar, despite the fact that both come from the same tree. Date palm sugar is made from the sap of the date palm tree while date sugar is made from the tree’s fruit ground up into small particles. Date sugar is as sweet as brown sugar and can be used as 1:1 substitute for it in recipes. In every teaspoon you get two grams of fiber and it is one of the lowest sugars on the glycemic index coming in at 50 whereas regular sugar is 67. Because date sugar is simply ground whole dried fruit, it contains all the fruit’s nutrients — vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. It has ten calories per teaspoon which is about one-third lower calories than regular sugar. It also has a surprising amount of potassium with 1 percent of the Daily Value of potassium per teaspoon. I love it in baked goods but one note - it doesn't melt like regular sugar but rather stays creamy.
Date Paste For Non-Dairy Kefir
One of my readers, Fran, posted a comment explaining how she has kept her grains alive while making non-dairy sesame seed milk for over a year by feeding them sugar made from date paste. Here is what she said: "I am vegan and I used to make my own kefir with non-dairy homemade sesame milk that I added homemade date puree (thinned down) to in order to feed the (milk kefir) grains. I started out by dunking my grains into cow's milk once a fortnight to keep them alive but then one day I had enough grains and I decided that I was going to test how long the grains would live if I only used them in my sesame milk. A year and a half later they were still happily culturing my “milk.” I am guessing that my grains converted to the date sugar quite happily as they showed no signs of either dying or slowing down. If you make non-dairy kefir, I have 16 recipes for you. Check out my date paste recipe to give them food. Non-dairy kefir is low in carbohydrates so they will need some extra food.
Second Ferment Your Kefir With Dates and Vanilla
After you have made kefir, second ferment it again and get even more probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Add a date and a splash of vanilla to your kefir and let it ferment for an hour on the counter, then place in the fridge with the date still in the jar. (You can even make your own homemade vanilla with just two ingredients.) Only use one date per quart or, even better, two quarts of kefir. Dates have lots of sugars and they will feed your kefir like crazy. You'll love the flavor and dates can last a long time in your kefir so as you drink some kefir add some more to the jar and place it in the fridge to let it keep fermenting slowly.
Listen To My Podcast
I love dates and so do my microbes since they're loaded with fiber and lots of nutrients. Here is what I've learned about dates and why date sugar is my favorite sweetener to use for baked goods. Dates are nature's healthy treats! Check out the podcast and article.