A healthy alternative to candy, dried dates have gained popularity among dieters for their sweetness and nutritional content. Dates can be eaten whole or baked into desserts.
The Phoenix genus breeds several varieties of dates, with the Phoenix dactylifera being among the most well-known. Also called the Date Palm, it is one of the world's oldest trees, considered a holy symbol by many religions.
Dried dates are brown, oval-shaped and sun-dried, with a crackly, wrinkled outer shell. The inside is sweet and pasty, with a large pit. They are usually sold raw without additives. However, some dried dates are soaked in syrup or processed with sulphur.
One serving of 100 grams yields 282 calories, less than 1/2 gram fat, and 2.5 grams protein. Though its sugar content is high (63.4 grams), it is still considered a healthy snack, owing to its bountiful vitamin content.
Dates provide fiber, B-vitamins and vital minerals like iron, copper and manganese. They can help stave off hunger cravings, aiding diet efforts.
Dried dates can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months, or in the cabinet for one month. When dates form crystals of sugar or turn color, they should be thrown away. Soak in water to rehydrate.