The Delectable Date

We take a look at the nutritional value that dates, both dried and raw, can offer to our health and why these fruits that sometimes get a bad rap for being high in sugar may offer greater benefit to our health than we could have ever imagined



Published: Sat 13 Jul 2013, 3:30 PM

Last updated: Mon 11 Oct 2021, 2:05 PM

Traditionally many Muslims choose to break their daily fast during Ramadan by eating dates.

Enjoyed by many as a sweet treat, dates are most commonly eaten dried but can also be eaten raw. There are said to be in excess of 600 different varieties to choose from. A great alternative to desserts and treats that are laden with added sugars, dates are for many one of nature's most delicious natural fruits. A taste not dissimilar to toffee - chewy, yet they melt in your mouth.

An energy bullet rich in carbohydrate content and a fantastic source of fibre dates may just be the perfect food to break the fast.

Nutritionally raw dates and dried dates differ somewhat.

Raw Dates Vs Dried Dates

Here are a few comparisons below based on the composition of dates ascertained by the Food Standards Agency (FSA):

Water: Raw dates have much higher water content than the dried variety and therefore is considered a good source to up your hydration levels especially in the hot summer months.

Sugar: The sugar content is lower in raw dates as opposed to dried ones. If you are watching your weight or are diabetic raw dates may be a better choice due to the lower sugar content.

Vitamin C: While only a trace of Vitamin C is found in the dried variety, the content is higher in raw dates.

Calories: For those watching their waistline raw dates prove to be of less calorific value with 100gms providing 124Kcal. In contrast 100gms of dried dates provided 270kcal.

Fibre: Raw dates have lower dietary fibre when compared to the dried variety which is loaded with insoluble and soluble fibre which helps to keep you full for longer. It is also known to support a healthy colon when taken with adequate water.

Dates are also low in fat and contain many more vitamins and minerals which support our health and wellbeing including; iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, iodine, Vitamin E, B vitamins, tryptophan and biotin.

Dates provide a small amount of Vitamin K which is great for breast feeding mothers to pass to their babies as they do not have the ability to produce this vitamin in their guts at a young age.

Who would have known that something this tasty could have such an abundance of nutrients that are good for our health? They say good things come in small packages and this is certainly true when we are talking about the humble date. As you can see nutritionally dates provide a wide array of nutrients and do it all whilst tasting delicious. However dates should be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet. Portion control is paramount.

Sharon Scott's passion for good health through proper nutrition led her to complete a home study course in nutrition. She is now studying fir a diploma in Nutritional Therapy. (svscott@hotmail.co.uk)

Tasty ways to enjoy dates

  • Served alongside your coffee; you may like to try this instead of adding refined sugar to your coffee. My favourite place to enjoy a coffee with delicious organic dates is at Café Bateel where they have a large selection of gourmet dates.
  • Chopped up into tiny pieces and tossed into your salad it adds a sweet twist while delivering a powerhouse of nutrients.
  • Experiment with stuffing dates using a variety of raw nuts for a tasty snack such as cashews, almonds or walnuts. Melt some dark chocolate (70% + cacao content) and dip half the date and leave to set on a sheet of baking paper. Serving them stuffed with raw nuts is a great way to add a protein source which can reduce the impact on blood sugar levels.


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