Since we just passed Valentine’s Day I thought it would be good for me to share my thoughts about dates. I have them regularly and genuinely find them to be spectacular in living a healthy lifestyle. OK I will fess up. I’m not talking about going on dates but rather the fruit grown on a date palm tree. Hang in there as there will be more interesting facts and how you can benefit from the fruit rather than discussing my dating life…
A Little Context
Over the past several years I have tried many of the over-the-counter energy bars. As I have learned more about reading labels and identifying what to look for, I have eliminated many from my grocery cart. In a nutshell, I look for the least amount of ingredients possible as there are numerous unnecessary and not so healthy ingredients in many bars. When I do buy in the store I really have narrowed it to a couple of the Lara Bars that have two or three ingredients maximum, the Cashew Cookie and Peanut Butter Cookie. The Cashew Cookie simply has cashews and dates and the Peanut Butter Cookie has peanuts, sea salt and dates.
They are really tasty and sweet. What makes them sweet? It’s the dates. Before turning my health around a few years back I didn’t know what a date was and if I had it I didn’t know about it. Dates provide a great source of fiber, 8 grams per 3.5 ounces, and phytonutrients which help protect us from cancers and cardiovascular disease while also promoting immune health. They do have high sugar content but it’s attached to the fiber which is the important part. Like other fruits containing sugar it’s like consuming a slow release pill as it releases into our blood stream over time versus consuming refined sugars (ex. table sugar) that can cause immediate blood sugar level spikes. In a link below in the blog you will see studies that show how they are proven to have no adverse effect on blood sugar level and weight.
Dr. Michael Greger has reviewed a vast amount of scientific peer reviewed research on dates. Here are some of the highlights:
- there is no adverse effect on blood sugar level and weight
- considered an “ideal food”
- classified as the healthiest sweetener (estimated antioxidant contribution from sweeteners)
- protects us from colon cancer (and others…)
- provides benefits when in labor and delivery
As I noted earlier I consume energy bars, mainly on long bike rides as they are convenient to store and provide a good pick-me-up. I have made several energy bar recipes over the last year or so and I have certainly found my favorite and the most healthy are those including dates. I now dabble with creating my own mixes and find the experiments fun to try and then share with friends and teammates.
I have found myself narrowing or eliminating some ingredients that I have found in other recipes including coconut oil, agave, maple syrup, and sugar. Dates also act as a great binding agent when making bars. I’m scratching the surface with my own concoctions and I’ll share one here that I think isn’t too bad.
You can purchase dates at most grocery stores and you can use Google, YouTube and books for recipe options. It takes me approximately 15 minutes to make a blend and then another 30 minutes of cooling in the refrigerator for the no-bake options which for the ones I make do not require baking. You can also speed up the process by placing them in your freezer. Just don’t forget to take them out or you will then find yourself adding time for thawing.
If you don’t have time and find yourself at the market looking at bars read the labels looking for added sugars, sodium (Engine 2 Diet Guideline – less than 1:1 ratio of milligrams sodium to calories), oils, and ingredients that are hard to pronounce. Eating as whole food as we can is a great guideline to promote health.
Please share with me any recipes you have found using dates.
– Add Health to Your Life