I used to be afraid of dates. They’re soft and gummy and strange-looking. I first bought and tried them when I started making Thrive recipes last year. While I still find them a little weird, they have proven to be an invaluable source of natural, easy energy for running and training. Here are five reasons why you should throw away all preconceived notions and give these sweet fruits a try:
1. They are ideal for running fuel. Dates are filled with fructose and sucrose, which are easily digestible sugars to give a steady stream of energy during athletic endeavors. Instead of packaged gels or candy, grab a couple dates. Slicing them open and filling them with almond or peanut butter makes an ideal carbohydrate-fat-protein combination for athletes.
2. They are high in nutrients. Dates are loaded with iron, potassium, vitamin A, and calcium, along with other trace minerals. A single date packs 66 calories and 16 g of sugar, so moderation is key.
3. They are high in dietary fiber. With 1.6 g of fiber per date, their high soluble fiber content is known for holding and absorbing water, which aids in easing digestion. Another benefit is their ability to prevent the absorption of LDL cholesterol and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
4. They are a good sugar substitute. The most common variation are Medjool dates, which can be found fresh or dried in most supermarkets. Their large pit is easy to remove and most specialty stores will sell pre-pitted dates for easy eating. Dates can be chopped up and used instead of other dried fruit in recipes. They can also be soaked in water and pureed to make a thin paste, which can replace other liquid sweeteners in baked goods.
5. They are a low-glycemic food. Foods lower on the glycemic index keep blood sugar levels down, which is particularly beneficial in maintaining glycemic control in diabetics. Many sugars and refined carbohydrates that we crave when we are tired trigger a release of insulin to try to maintain blood sugar levels, leading to a rollercoaster of energy and fatigue. Dates are a great option for a sweet treat that will not cause a sugar crash at 3:00 PM!
Try using dates in one of these easy recipes: