Eating medjool dates satisfies your sweet tooth while providing energy, vitamins and minerals needed to maintain overall health. Medjool dates have been cultivated for thousands of years for their sweet, rich flavor. They're a type of fruit that grows on date palm trees in hot, dry climates such as the Middle East, Africa and California. You may be able to find fresh dates if you live in an area where they grow. Otherwise, they are available dried, either pitted or un-pitted, year round in grocery stores.
Calories, Protein and Fat
Dried fruit, such as dates, contain more calories in a smaller volume than fresh fruit because a large amount of water has been removed. Eating just two small dates, which average about 1 to 2 inches long, gives you 133 calories. Be mindful of your portion size because it's easy to overeat these sweet fruits, which may lead to weight gain over time. However, they are a fat-free food, making them a good alternative to high-fat desserts when trying to limit your daily fat intake. As with most fruits, dates are not a good source of protein with less than 1 gram per serving.
Most of the calories in dates come from the carbohydrates they contain. You'll get 36 grams of total carbohydrate from eating two dates. Three of these grams come from dietary fiber, which helps regulate digestion and may aid in lowering cholesterol. Sugar accounts for 32 grams of the total carbohydrate in dates. Even though these are natural sugars found in fruit, dates are still considered a high-sugar food. You can use them to sweeten desserts or eat them to satisfy a sweet craving. If you have diabetes or problems with blood sugar control, be careful not to overeat dates.
Dates contain small amounts of almost every essential mineral. The ones of note are potassium, manganese and copper, which are present at 8 to 10 percent of the daily value. Your body relies on potassium to regulate fluid balance, heart beat, blood pressure and nerve impulses. Copper is used for the synthesis of connective tissues and helps maintain proper brain and red blood cell function. Manganese plays a part in forming bones, blood clotting factors and sex hormones, regulating energy metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar level and maintaining brain and nerve function.
The vitamins present at the highest percentage of your daily needs are vitamin B-6, niacin and pantothenic acid. Eating two dates provides you with 6 percent of the daily value for B-6 and 4 percent of the daily values for pantothenic acid and niacin. These nutrients play a role in red blood cell production, energy metabolism, growth and development and skin health, the nervous system and the digestive system. Eating dates as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet helps you meet your daily requirements for these vitamins.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Dates, Medjool
- Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used; Jean A. T. Pennington and Judith Spungen Douglass
- American Cancer Society: Vitamin B Complex
- National University Hospital: Vitamins and Minerals Chart
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Manganese