Fun fact: Date palms can grow up to 75 feet high and are able to produce fruit for 40-50 years.

Background

  • Dates are the edible fruit grown on a date tree otherwise known as the date palm.
  • They are part of the Arecaceae botanical family. Other members of this botanical family include coconut, palm oil, sago, and heart of palm.
  • There are hundreds of varieties of dates cultivated around the world.
  • The most commonly grown date varieties in the U.S. are medjool and deglet noor.

Nutrition

  • Dates contain beneficial amounts of selenium, copper, potassium, and magnesium.
    • Selenium is an antioxidant involved in immune function, reproduction, and thyroid function.
    • Copper promotes bone formation, collagen and connective tissue formation, and iron metabolism.
    • Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, fluid balance, heart function, muscle contraction, and nervous system function.
    • Magnesium also supports blood pressure regulation along with bone formation and energy production.

How to Purchase, Prepare, and Store

  • Dried dates are available in the baking aisle at grocery stores year-round.
  • Fresh dates are typically available in the U.S. from September to March and can be found online or at specialty grocery stores such as Middle Eastern markets.
  • Choose dates that are plump and glossy.
  • Avoid those that are mushy or have crystalized sugar on their outer skin.
  • Dates with white spots on the skin signifies aging — these are fine to consume, but aim to purchase dates without white spots as they will be fresher.
  • The various varieties of dates differ in appearance including size, color, and shape.
  • Prepare dates by removing the inner pit. Slice the date down the middle and remove pit if not already pitted.
  • Store dates in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. Store in the refrigerator or freezer for up to one year.
  • Consume dates as a tasty sweet treat. Use them in side dishes, salads, dessert recipes, or smoothies. Puree and use as a spread, add them to oatmeal or yogurt or stuff them with your favorite ingredients.

Nutrition Facts

1 date, pitted (24 g)

  • Calories: 66.5
  • Protein: 0.4 g
  • Fat: 0.03 g
  • Carbohydrate: 18 g
  • Fiber: 1.61 g
  • Calcium: 15.4 mg
  • Iron: 0.2 mg
  • Magnesium: 13 mg
  • Phosphorus: 14.9 mg
  • Folate: 3.6 μg
  • Vitamin A: 1.6 μg

Via fdc.nal.usda.gov

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