Dates are pretty trendy in culinary circles right now — but are they good for you? Yes! And you don’t need to be a fancy chef to reap the benefits. Even drugstores like Rite-Aid and Walgreens sell boxes of dried, pitted dates, making them a convenient and economical way to get a healthy dose of fiber, B vitamins and minerals while satisfying your craving for something sweet.
People have been eating dates—a type of stone fruit that comes in many varieties—for centuries. In the United States, the most commonly available types of dates are Deglet Noor and Medjool dates, the former slender and chewy and the latter plumper and softer.
Dates’ sweetness gives them more of a candy than fruit feel, making them a great sugary-snack alternative for those with a sweet tooth. But don’t let their sweetness fool you: Dates are a nutrient powerhouse, high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese and B vitamins. They also contain a good amount soluble and insoluble fiber, which keeps you feeling full. And they’re almost entirely free of sodium, cholesterol and fat.
Dates Nutrition Info
Serving size: 10 dates
Fat: < 1 gram
Carbohydrate: 61 grams
Dietary fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 2 mg
You can totally eat dates on their own; I like to combine pitted dates (“pitted” means the pit has been taken out), dried apricots, dried figs and raw nuts for a weird take on trail mix. I’ve also used them in making raw desserts, which I used to be really into; their sticky, chewiness makes them good for binding nuts and seeds together.
Pitted dates (also called “stoned dates”) can be stuffed with various fillings, like almonds, lemon peel or tahini. It’s common in Medditerranean cuisines to use chopped dates in savory dishes. In Spain, dates are stuffed with fried almond and wrapped in bacon.