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Everything You Need to Know About Medjool Dates

Health + Wellness
AnnaPustynnikova / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Medjool dates are a variety of dates enjoyed for their natural sweetness. They're larger, darker, and more caramel-like in taste than other common types like Deglet Noor.


As tropical stone fruits, they have a single pit surrounded by edible flesh.

Native to Morocco, Medjool dates come from the date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera) and are now grown in warm regions of the United States, the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.

They're often sold dried but not dehydrated, making them soft and sticky. Their sugars become more concentrated as they dry, which further increases their sweetness.

This article tells you all you need to know about the nutritional content, benefits, and uses of Medjool dates.

Medjool Date Nutrition Facts

Medjool dates are a concentrated source of healthy nutrients. Just 2 dates (48 grams) provide (1):

  • Calories: 133
  • Carbs: 36 grams
  • Fiber: 3.2 grams
  • Protein: 0.8 grams
  • Sugar: 32 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Calcium: 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 2% of the DV
  • Potassium: 7% of the DV
  • Copper: 19% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 6% of the DV

Dates offer a significant amount of fiber and variety of vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, B vitamins, copper, and magnesium.

Compared with other common varieties like Deglet Noor, Medjool dates contain significantly more calcium.

Calorie and Sugar Content

Dates are a concentrated source of natural sugars.

While people who monitor their blood sugar may need to moderate their intake of dates, one small study found that this stone fruit has a low glycemic index (GI) and shouldn't cause large increases in blood sugar.

Yet, Medjool dates pack many calories in a small serving. For this reason, you may want to keep your intake in check.

Dried fruits, which also include raisins, dried apricots, and prunes, contain more calories per serving than their fresh counterparts because they have less water.

Most of the calories in Medjool dates come from their sugars.

Summary

Medjool dates are rich in natural sugars, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals. Like other dried fruits, they pack a lot of calories in a small serving.

Potential Health Benefits

Medjool dates offer several health benefits.

May Protect Your Heart

The fiber and antioxidants in Medjool dates may help protect your heart.

Fiber can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and keep your arteries clean, reducing your risk of heart disease. Just 2 dates (48 grams) contains over 3 grams of fiber.

One test-tube study found that Medjool and other date varieties lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevented the buildup of plaque in arteries. Plaque accumulation can eventually block blood flow, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Medjool dates are also a rich source of antioxidants, which help fight damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Their carotenoid and phenolic acid antioxidants have both been studied for their beneficial effects on heart health.

Supports Healthy Digestion

Fiber is essential to promoting healthy digestion and bowel regularity. In fact, sufficient fiber in your daily diet helps form stool and prevent constipation.

Eating enough fiber may also reduce your risk of digestive diseases like colorectal cancer.

In a 3-week study, 21 people ate 7 dates (168 grams) per day and significantly improved their bowel movement frequency, compared with when they didn't eat dates.

High in Antioxidants

Medjool dates boast several antioxidants, which can protect your cells from oxidative damage that can lead to diseases like cancer, heart disease, and brain ailments.

Those in Medjool dates include flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids, which have been studied for their anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and brain-protective properties.

One study in dried fruit found that dates had the highest antioxidant content when compared with figs and prunes.

Other Potential Health Benefits

  • Natural fuel for your body. Medjool dates offer a high number of carbs in a small serving. Carbs are your body's main source of energy.
  • May support bone health. Medjool dates contain a small amount of calcium and are a decent source of potassium, manganese, and copper, all of which are important nutrients for bone health.
  • May protect brain health. Animal studies link dates' antioxidants to lower levels of inflammatory markers and reduced brain plaques associated with conditions like Alzheimer's disease.

Bear in mind that more research is needed on these benefits.

Summary

Medjool dates contain antioxidants and nutrients that may lower your risk of heart disease, promote digestion, and support heart health, among other benefits.

How to Add Medjool Dates to Your Diet

Medjool dates can be found year-round at most grocery stores. They're often sold with other dried or raw foods.

Some Medjool dates are pitted, but if you purchase ones with pits, you'll need to remove them before eating. Simply slice the date open lengthwise and pull out the pit.

These dried fruits make a great sugar alternative due to their sweetness, which comes from fructose, a natural sugar.

To substitute Medjool dates for sugar, make a date paste by blending 2 cups (480 grams) of pitted dates with 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) of water, then use this paste instead of sugar in your recipes at a 1:1 ratio.

You can also add this sweet fruit to smoothies, sauces, and dressings, or chop them in a food processor and use them for no-bake desserts like pie crusts, energy balls, and fruit-and-chocolate bars.

What's more, you can fill raw Medjool dates with peanut butter, cheese, nuts, or even cooked grains like rice.

Store your dates in a cool, dry place like a pantry or your refrigerator. Keep them in a sealed container to help retain their moisture.

Summary

Medjool dates are versatile and easy to add to your diet. You can eat them raw, in smoothies, stuffed, or as a natural sweetener in desserts.

The Bottom Line

Medjool dates are high in calories but full of nutrients and antioxidants that are linked to many health benefits.

In particular, their fiber may boost digestion and heart health while lowering your risk of several chronic diseases.

You can eat them as a snack, in smoothies, or as a natural sweetener in various dishes and desserts.

Reposted with permission from Healthline. For detailed source information, please view the original article on Healthline.

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