Dates are the sweet fruit from the date palm. Originating in the desert oases of northern Africa and southwest Asia, dates are thought to be one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits.
Medjool dates are the most popular dates used in raw recipes, however if you have access to other varieties like deglet noor, halawi or honey dates, the varieties in flavors are subtle yet memorable.
Nutrition: Dates are rich in dietary fiber, which prevents dietary LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. It is also a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon. They contain many antioxidants known as tannins which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. They are a good source of Vitamin A which is good for vision and is cancer-protective. It is rich in the antioxidant flavonoids beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants have been found to be protective against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
Dates are an excellent source of iron, are high in potassium, and are rich in minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. The fruit has adequate levels of B-complex group of vitamins as well as vitamin K. It contains very good amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Vitamin K is essential for many coagulant factors in the blood as well as in bone metabolism.
Date sugar is made from dates that are dried and ground into crystals.
Uses: If you’re using dates that are not pitted, you’ll need to remove the large seed inside. You’ll also want to remove the small crown at the tip of the date. To use as a sweetener, soak the dates in water for 2-3 hours or overnight if you have time. Blend the dates and soak water and this mixture can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Date sugar is great for using in place of brown sugar.