Five health benefits of dates and a coconut date snack recipe

Satisfy your sugar cravings with nutrient-rich dates that help boost energy, while managing blood sugar levels

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dates in orange bowl
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All evidence points to the fact that to improve health, you must avoid sugary foods. Studies show that eating refined sugar causes energy depletion, also known as the dreaded “sugar crash” when empty calories use our body’s vitamins and minerals to turn it into fuel. Think of it like a credit card for your body. Instead of using your resources for building health, refined sugar uses your resources and creates a deficit!

The good news is that nature provides us with incredible nutrition in very sweet packages. One of my favourites is dates as they are an easy portable snack that pairs fabulously with nuts. Dates provide the nutrients you need, while satisfying your sweet tooth.

Here are five reasons to eat more dates:


1. Dates are a source of antioxidants.
All dates, fresh or dried, contain different types of antioxidants. Fresh dates contain anthocyanidins and carotenoids, while dried dates contain polyphenols – just like green tea. Experiments in food chemistry show that Khalas (aka Madina) dates are highest in antioxidants when compared to other date varieties.

2. Dates can be good for blood sugar balance. Diabetes researchers have shown that dates have a low glycemic impact. This means that eating dates alone, or with a meal, may help people with type-2 diabetes manage their blood sugar and blood fat levels. Six to eight Tamer dates can be eaten in one sitting without dramatic shifts in blood sugar.

3. Dates can help reduce blood pressure. A standard serving of five or six dates provides about 80 milligrams of magnesium, an essential mineral that helps dilate blood vessels. Research shows that supplementing with 370 milligrams of magnesium can reduce blood pressure. However, taking such a large dose all at once often causes diarrhea. Dates are a delicious way to increase your magnesium intake more gently.

4. Dates contain a brain booster. Each little date contains over two milligrams of choline, a B vitamin that’s a component in acetylcholine, the memory neurotransmitter. Higher choline intake is associated with better memory and learning, making it a key nutrient for children and older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s.

5. Dates help maintain bone mass. Research shows that bone loss in post-menopausal women with osteopenia can be reduced by increasing intake of potassium. One dried date provides nearly 140 milligrams of this valuable nutrient. Scientists believe that high potassium intake protects bone mass by reducing the amount of calcium excreted through the kidneys.


 

Coconut date roll snacks

I love making these for family get-togethers, long road trips, or picnics in the park. They are incredibly easy to make and great for fast energy on the run.

Ingredients:
2/3 cup (170 mL) raw sunflower seeds
2/3 cup (170 mL) raw macadamia nuts or brazil
1/2 cup (125 mL) raw walnuts or pecans
1 cup (250 mL) raw pumpkin seeds
½ tsp (2.5 mL) sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
4 tbsp (60 mL) vegan protein powder
1 tsp (5 mL) spirulina powder
16 whole Majool dates, pitted
2 tsp pure vanilla
¼ cup (60 mL) lemon juice
½ cup (125 mL) dried shredded coconut

Directions:
1. Combine all the dry ingredients into a food processor (sunflower seeds, macadamias, walnuts cinnamon, protein powder, pumpkin seed and sea salt) process until you get a crumb like consistency.
2. Add dates, vanilla, lemon juice and process again.
3. Take a small amount and squeeze to combine, then roll into a log. The mix should come together when squished with hands.
4. Roll in coconut and store covered in the fridge until needed.

Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet (OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network), a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation (Random House) is now available and will help people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
Makes 24 rolls.