Medjool Dates: The Healthiest Natural Sweetener?

October 12, 2017
Medjool dates - Dr. Axe

We already know fruits provide many health benefits, so when something is referred as “nature’s power fruit” — as Medjool dates are — it must be the real deal, right?

Well, Medjool dates do not disappoint. Packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, the health benefits are remarkable. These edible sweet fruits of the date palm tree make great natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives, but they’re not just delicious. They’ve also been proven to decrease cholesterol and boost bone health — and these are just a couple of the many reasons to add Medjool dates to your diet.

What exactly are Medjool dates, and what makes them so beneficial? Read on.


What Are Medjool Dates?

There are many varieties of dates available worldwide, but the Medjool date is one of two of the most commercially produced varieties within the U.S. The other most commonly produced is the Deglet Noor (or Nour) date, but Medjools are larger, softer and sweeter.

Medjool dates can be consumed fresh or dried, and it’s common for them to be dried, which lengthens their life span and prevents early spoilage.

Medjool dates have a deep brown skin color with a flavor that can be described as caramel-like. When holding a dried medjool date in your hand, you first feel its firm yet wrinkled textured, but don’t make any quick judgments upon biting into a medjool date, you will see that the inside is actually moist and meaty.

Medjool dates vary greatly in size, and at present there are no industry standards for size. You will sometimes see medjool dates described as “large,” “jumbo” or “super,” which is a general reference to their length as well as their circumference.

Once you get a hang of how to incorporate Medjool dates into your daily diet and recipes, they will quickly become one of your favorite raw food kitchen staples!


6 Health Benefits of Medjool Dates

1. Decrease Cholesterol

Medjool dates are a wise choice when it comes to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. When you eat them, you increase your insoluble and soluble fiber intake, which in turn can significantly lower cholesterol naturally — particularly LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. 

As we know, LDL cholesterol is a major contributing factor to heart attacks, heart disease and stroke, making these tasty dates a great heart-healthy option.

When there is too much cholesterol circulating in the blood, it can create sticky deposits called plaque along the artery walls. Plaque can eventually narrow or block the flow of blood to the brain, heart and other organs.

Blood cells that get caught on the plaque form clots, which can break loose and completely block blood flow through an artery, causing heart attack or stroke. If you suffer from high cholesterol, experts recommend a diet that includes high-fiber foods such as dates. (1)

In fact, research out of Israel found that Medjool dates, along with a variety of other dates, “inhibited LDL oxidation, and most extracts also stimulated cholesterol removal from macrophages.” (2)

2. Prevent & Relieve Constipation

If you’re reading a list of top foods for constipation relief, don’t be surprised if you see dates on the list. The high fiber content of Medjool dates make them a smart choice when it comes to keeping yourself regular.

If you have constipation more than occasionally or have severe pain and/or bleeding, it’s important to check with your doctor because these symptoms can be a sign of a more serious digestive disorder. But before you freak out, if there is no pain or bleeding, in most cases constipation is just a sign that your diet needs more fiber. The average adult needs around 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day to prevent constipation, which is much less than most people typically consume on a daily basis. (3)

Dates have high levels of soluble fiber, which keep bowel movements regular by adding bulk to stool and helping it move faster through the intestines. Next time you’re looking for a natural constipation relief remedy, try having a few Medjool dates.  

3. Natural Energy Booster

Need a new go-to for your pre-workout snack or a healthy post-workout option? Try Medjool dates!

Once you try a Medjool date, you won’t be surprised to learn that dates are higher in sugar than many other fruits. However, dates are high in natural sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars are easily processed and utilized by the body for energy.

Consuming a few Medjool dates or including them in a snack is an excellent idea when you’re looking for a healthy surge of energy. Worldwide, dates are used for an afternoon pick-me-up to ward off tiredness. Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, try a green smoothie recipe that includes some Medjool dates! (4)

 

The Medjool dates guide - Dr. Axe

 

4. Reduce Triglyceride Levels

Medjool dates can give your heart a healthy boost. A  study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found Medjool dates are high in antioxidative properties in vitro. Ten healthy subjects consumed 100 grams daily of either Medjool or Hallawi dates for four weeks. According to the study, the consumption of Medjool dates reduced blood triglyceride levels by 8 percent among the participants. (5)

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. Having a high level of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease so it’s important to keep your triglycerides at a normal level (less than 150 milligrams per deciliter).

5. Alternative Natural Sweetener

If nature had an actual candy store, Medjool dates would be front and center. When you eat a Medjool date, it can be hard to process that it really is a piece of fruit because it has such candy-like quality to it.

Medjool dates are undeniably sweet but in a completely unprocessed sort of way — so as long as you don’t overdo it, there is no guilt associated with these caramel-like gems.

Research has shown that there is a direct link between increased sugar consumption in food and increased diabetes rates. (6) We all should aim to keep our sugar intake down and be mindful of our sources of sugar. A delicious fruit, like a Medjool date, provides a truly satisfying alternative to eating a candy bar or brownie loaded with refined sugar.

6. Boost Bone Health

The significant amounts of key minerals found in Medjool dates make them superstars when it comes to strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating bone diseases like osteoporosis — thus, add dates to your osteoporosis diet natural treatment plan.

Dates are high in calcium and a food high in phosphorus, which work closely together to build strong bones and teeth. About 85 percent of the body’s phosphorus is in bones and teeth. Phosphorus is needed for the growth, maintenance and repair of all tissues and cells, and for the production of the genetic building blocks, DNA and RNA. Phosphorus is also required to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium, and zinc. (7)

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. It’s essential for the development and maintenance of strong teeth and bones.

Calcium also keeps the heart, nerves, muscles and other body systems working properly, and it’s probably best known for helping prevent osteoporosis. (8) As people begin to age and their bones start to become weaker, maintaining a diet high in both calcium and phosphorus can ward off unpleasant bone degradation. Eating Medjool dates regularly is one way that you can up your intake of calcium and phosphorus.


Medjool Dates Nutrition Facts

One Medjool date contains 66 calories, 15.95 grams of sugar and 0 trans fats. Since dates are naturally rich in carbohydrates (17.99 milligrams in a single date), they are an excellent source of energy. Medjool dates are also loaded with many vitamins and minerals.

One serving (100 grams) of Medjool dates contains (9, 10):

  • 6.7 grams fiber (26.8 percent DV)
  • 696 milligrams potassium (19.9 percent DV)
  • 54 milligrams magnesium (13.5 percent DV)
  • 0.25 milligrams vitamin B6 (12.5 percent DV)
  • 1.61 milligrams niacin (8 percent DV)
  • 64 milligrams calcium (6.4 percent DV)
  • 62 milligrams phosphorus (6.2 percent DV)
  • 0.06 milligrams riboflavin (3.5 percent DV)
  • 2.7 µg vitamin K (3.4 percent DV)
  • 0.05 milligrams thiamine (3.3 percent DV)
  • 149 IU vitamin A (3 percent DV)
  • 0.44 milligrams zinc (2.9 percent DV)

 

Medjool dates nutrition - Dr. Axe

 


Medjool Dates History & Interesting Facts

Dates are derived from the date palm, (Phoenix dactylifera), a tree of the palm family, found in northern Africa, the Canary Islands, the Middle East, Pakistan, India and California. The date is a one-seeded fruit, typically oblong, but often varying in shape, size, color, quality and consistency of flesh. There are hundreds of named varieties of Phoenix dactylifera date palms, but one of the most famous is the large, soft Medjool date palm, which produces Medjool dates.

Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around what is now Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 B.C. The date palm is grown as an ornamental tree along the Mediterranean shores of Europe with its leaves used for the celebration of Palm Sunday among Christians and the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles among Jews. (11)

Medjool dates, specifically, originated in the remote Bou Denib oasis in Saharan Morocco, and the Medjool palms were not successfully imported to the U.S. until 1927.  

There are many other types of palms that produce edible drupes or dates — however, those “dates” are almost all seed with very little flesh, and most are quite small.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Iraq are currently the leading date-producing and exporting countries. In the U.S., California is the major American producer of Medjool dates. Medjool date palms are also grown in several other U.S. states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada and Texas.


Where to Find & How to Use Medjool Dates

Medjool dates can be found in your local grocery store in the fresh and/or dried fruit aisle. Dried Medjool dates are also likely to be found at your nearest health store, often in the bulk section, which will give you the greatest amount of dried dates for the lowest price. I even found dried Medjool dates in my local pharmacy in the food aisle recently!

Medjool dates come with the pit inside of them because the fruit is too soft to put in a mechanical pitter. While having to deal with pits is not ideal, the pit can be removed very easily. Simply make a small, lengthwise slice into the date with a knife, pull out the pit and that’s it you have a delicious Medjool date ready for consumption! It’s also extremely easy to remove the pit with your fingers.

The sticky texture of Medjool dates makes them excellent for binding ingredients together whether you’re making a granola bar or tart crust. Need a kick of natural sweetness in your next smoothie or energy drink? Forget the agave nectar and toss a couple of Medjool dates into the mix.

Medjool dates can also make a delicious appetizer or snack when stuffed with various ingredients like goat cheese. Since Medjool dates don’t need to be refrigerated, they make a perfect tasty and healthy addition to a gift basket alongside some nuts, dark chocolate and other dried fruit.

Last but not least, when Medjool dates are made into a paste, they become an awesome, nutrient-dense sugar substitute. Date paste can be used one-to-one in most recipes, unlike stevia, and it adds bulk for baking.

How to make date paste:

  1. Soak Medjool dates in hot water until soft. If the water reaches room temperature and the dates aren’t soft enough, soak in hot water again.
  2. Reserve the soaking liquid, as it’s integral to making a good paste!
  3. Add the soaked dates to your food processor, along with one tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Blend until smooth. Add more water as needed to create a thick rich paste.

You’re looking for the consistency of peanut butter. Use the paste in your favorite cookie or cake recipe to cut out refined sugar and boost the nutrients. You can also use date paste to sweeten your favorite muffins and pies.


Medjool Date Recipes

Want a snack or dessert that is both seriously delicious and seriously healthy? You have to try this quick and easy recipe for Raw Brownie Bites! Not only do they contain Medjool dates, but they also walnuts, almonds and sea salt — making for a tasty treat.

You can try these other delicious and naturally sweet Medjool date recipes as well:


Possible Side Effects of Medjool Dates

First and foremost, always remove the pit of a Medjool date before consumption. If you try to consume one with the pit still inside of it, you risk choking.

As with any fruit, it’s important not to overdo it when consuming Medjool dates due to their high natural sugar content. Pay attention to serving sizes, and monitor your blood sugar if you are a diabetic. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a half cup of dried fruit like Medjool dates equals one serving of fruit. A half cup of Medjool dates is a very satisfying serving whether you consume them alone or within a recipe. 

It’s possible to have a food allergy to Medjool dates. If you experience any symptoms of a food allergy such as a runny nose, tongue swelling, itchy eyes or facial redness, then discontinue consumption of Medjool dates and seek medical attention.

Read Next: Blackstrap Molasses Combats Stress & Promotes Healthy Skin


From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.

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