Medjool Dates: Nutritional Value and Benefits
Dates are a sweet fruit that comes from the wild date palm tree. There are many different types of dates, but Medjool dates are one of the most popular types.
Medjool dates are large and have a caramel-like flavor and they are also very nutritious too.
In this article, we will discuss the nutritional value and benefits of Medjool dates and also provide some tips on how to eat them and where you can buy this delicious and healthy snack.
What are Medjool dates?
Medjool dates are a large, plump variety of dates that are often sold dried.
They are a popular type of date and are grown in many different countries with warm climates but are originally from Morocco.
Medjool dates have a high sugar content and are very sweet.
Dates come from the date palm trees, also known as Phoenix dactylifera, and are often found for sale in grocery stores dried which helps to prolong their shelf life and sweetness.
Compared to other dates, they are often considered to be a more premium product due to their large size and sweetness.
They are a stone fruit, meaning their fleshy fruit part surrounds their stone, also known as a seed or pit, as seen in peaches or plums, which are usually removed.
What are other varieties of dates?
Medjool dates are not the only type of edible dates as there have been hundreds of different varieties, also called cultivars, throughout history.
Most cultivars of dates were specific to certain regions, with the most popular cultivars being from North Africa or the Middle East.
Other popular cultivars of dates besides the Medjool date include:
- Deglet Noor, which is originally from Algeria
- Yahidi, which is originally from Iraq
- Hallawi, which is also from Iraq
- Mazafati, which is originally from Iran
Different cultivars of dates provide different textures and sweetness levels, with Medjool dates often being considered to be some of the sweetest dates.
What is the nutritional value of Medjool dates?
Medjool dates are a good source of dietary fiber as well as potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and copper.
The nutritional value of one Medjool date according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) includes:
- Carbs:18 grams
- Fiber:1.61 grams
- Protein:0.43 grams
- Sugar:16 grams
- Fat:0.04 grams
- Calcium:15.4 milligrams
- Iron:0.22 milligrams
- Potassium: 167 milligrams
- Copper:0.09 milligrams
- Vitamin B6: 0.06 milligrams
- Magnesium:13 milligrams
Please note that these numbers correspond to eating 1 date whereas a serving usually consists of 4-5 dates.
If you are concerned about calories or sugar content, eat less than the normal serving size.
What are the benefits of Medjool dates?
Due to Medjool dates being a great source of different vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they offer many different potential health benefits. These health benefits of dates include:
Aiding in digestion
Foods that are high in fiber, like Medjool dates, can aid in healthy digestion by helping to add bulk to stool, prevent constipation, prevent colorectal cancer, and promote regularity.
Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and can also help you feel more full.
In one study where people were fed 7 dates per day, the participants experienced more regular bowel movements.
Being high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are important for preventing oxidative cell stress, which is damage due to exposure to oxygen, and chronic diseases by reducing the number of free radicals in your body, which damage your cells.
They also have anticancer properties and help protect your eyes, brain, and heart from damage.
When your body is exposed to oxidative stress, it can lead to inflammation, which is a risk factor for chronic diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
Examples of antioxidants in dates include vitamin A, flavonoids, and carotenoids. In one study, dates were found to have higher levels of phenolic antioxidants than other dried fruits like figs and plums.
Improving brain function
The antioxidants in Medjool dates can help to improve brain function by reducing brain plaques which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
One study involving dates and mice found that mice who were fed dates had better memory and learning ability, most likely due to their high levels of antioxidants.
Due to this being an animal study, no firm conclusions can be drawn until there are more extensive human studies.
Improving heart health
Fiber, antioxidants, and potassium all can help with your heart health.
Fiber helps your heart by reducing your blood pressure due to lowering the amount of LDL cholesterol, with LDL being considered the "bad" cholesterol, which helps prevent heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Antioxidants also help to reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps to lower blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium. All of these factors together make dates a great fruit for improving heart health.
Helping with diabetes
Although high in sugar, the fiber in dates can help with blood sugar control by slowing down the digestion of food and absorption of sugar into your bloodstream which is especially beneficial if you have diabetes.
Dates also are very low on the glycemic index, which is a measure of how much a food raises your blood sugar levels.
A food with a high glycemic index will raise your blood sugar levels more than a food with a low glycemic index. Lastly, the antioxidant content in dates has also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels.
Promoting bone health
There is a minimal amount of calcium dates, less than 1% of your daily value per date; however, eating dates is a better source of manganese, copper, and potassium, all of which help promote bone health.
Manganese and copper can both help with the formation of your bones while potassium may help with bone density.
Providing a natural sweetener and energy boost
Dates are a great alternative to refined sugar because they are a natural sweetener and provide you with fiber, essential vitamins, and they contain good amounts of minerals too.
They also can increase your energy levels due to their natural sugars like fructose, glucose, and sucrose.
You can add this sweet, healthy energy booster to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and baked goods for natural sweetness.
From around the web: Dates
What is the best way to eat Medjool dates?
The best way to eat Medjool dates is to simply remove the pit and enjoy the fruit; however, most dried dates are already pitted dates, so if there is no seed, you can enjoy them right away.
Medjool dates can be enjoyed fresh or dried, and are a great addition to many dishes.
You can stuff them with nuts or cheese, add them to salads, use them as a natural sweetener in baked goods, or even make date syrup.
If you are looking for a nutritious and delicious snack, Medjool dates are a great option.
Where can I get Medjool dates?
Medjool dates are available at many grocery stores, either in the produce section or the dried fruit aisle all year round. You can also find them at health food stores and online retailers.
Medjool dates are a type of date that is delicious and nutritious.
They are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and potassium, which all have the health benefits listed above.
Medjool dates can be enjoyed fresh or dried and make a great addition to many dishes and you can find them at most grocery stores all year round.
If you have any more questions regarding Medjool dates or adding them to your diet, please talk to your doctor, dietician, or health care provider.