Dates are a prime example of why fruit is often called nature’s candy. Just a few can satisfy your sweet tooth, which is why they are a healthful alternative to Halloween treats. Have a few on hand next week when the kids are gobbling up candy and you are looking for a sweet alternative. Find out here why they’re so good for you and which ones to choose…


Native to the Middle East but now grown around the world, dates in the US are classified by their texture—from soft to very dry. They can be eaten dried or fresh (although dried is most popular). Dates are loaded with antioxidants…trace amounts of at least a half-dozen vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and K…and an almost perfect 1:1 ratio of calcium and magnesium.


One good choice is Deglet Noor, a type of semidry date that is smaller than other dates and has about 20 calories per piece. For dessert or a snack, six Deglet Noor dates provide 29 grams (g) of natural sugar (making them as sweet as candy)…a reasonable 120 calories…a very respectable 3.6 g of fiber…1 g of protein…a bit of calcium and magnesium…and a really nice 282 mg of potassium. Or, as a treat, savor a different type of date—two juicy, large Medjool dates (about 132 calories).

In addition to eating them whole, you also can chop up dates and put them in trail mix…chop and blend with warm almond or rice milk…or stuff with a piece of cheese. Caution: If you have blood sugar problems, including diabetes or metabolic syndrome, avoid dates altogether because they are high in sugar.

Dates are available in the produce section of most grocery stores and are labeled by type. Buy organic dates, if possible.

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