Whether you’re trying to slim down, shape up or just live a healthier lifestyle, you’ve probably been told to cut back on your sugar intake. In recent years, there has been a stronger focus surrounding sugar and its correlation to many detrimental health issues.
Natural Sugars VS Refined Sugars
It has become pretty clear that sugar is harmful to our health. However, not all sugar is necessarily bad for you. Natural sugars are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and other health foods. In fact, many foods that are high in natural sugars are actually high in essential vitamins and nutrients as well, which makes them well-balanced foods to enjoy – in moderation.
Refined sugars are the ones you want to avoid. These can be found in processed foods and disguise themselves under certain aliases like table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose and other additives that end in “-ose”. These are the sugars that are linked to certain life-threatening diseases.
Cutting down on your refined sugar intake can be incredibly difficult, though. Sure, there are the obvious indulgences in your pantry that you know for a fact contain processed sugars – just with a quick glance at the package. While these items may not be easy to resist, they are easy to identify as no-gos.
But the thing is refined sugar is a sneaky little devil! It hides in foods that you might not expect it to be like low-fat yogurts, fruit juices, pre-made smoothies, protein bars and other items that you might typically associate with dieting. It turns what seems like a simple piece of advice, “Don’t eat sugar!” into a complicated process of constantly checking labels, avoiding restaurants, and giving up a ton of the sweetness in your life.
Medjool Dates as a SweetenerNow, what if there was a way that you could continue enjoying your favorite sweets and still cut back on refined sugars in your diet?
We’re delighted to tell you that there absolutely is! And the answer is: medjool dates.
Naturally sweet with caramel notes and hints of honey, medjool dates are one of the best substitutes for heavily processed sugar. They work as an excellent secret ingredient to add to your baked goods, smoothies, or paired with nut butter as a snack.
Their unique flavor is sweet enough to balance the bitterness of your coffee, but also subtle enough to not clash with the other ingredients in your cookie recipe! Plus, medjool dates are chewy and caramel-like in texture, which makes them perfect for boiling and blending down into a syrup or paste to enjoy on your pancakes or add into sauces.
They’re nutritious…And it gets even better. Medjool dates are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including fiber, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and phosphorus. Their high fiber content helps your body digest the natural sugars slowly, so you don’t experience a spike in your blood sugar. That’s why they are not only a delicious treat, but a great way to boost your energy without getting the jitters!
They’re versatile...Medjool dates are not only naturally sweet and chock full of nutrients, but they’re also versatile. They are a variety of creative ways to incorporate dates into your diet to kick your sugar habit and reap the health benefits of this California superfruit!
While certain recipes call for raw medjool dates, others require a few extra steps to make them more baking-friendly. As we mentioned above, the texture of dates makes them just right for boiling down and transforming into a delicious date syrup or date paste.
Medjool date syrup or paste makes it 10 times easier to replace the sugar in your recipes with a healthier option. Plus it's super easy to make! We’ve included a simple date syrup below, but first let’s discuss the benefits of swapping harmful, refined sugar for medjool dates!
Benefits of Using Medjool Dates as a Substitute for Refined SugarKnowing there is such a delicious and nutritious replacement for all of your sugary needs makes quitting sugar seem a little less challenging, doesn’t it? You can still satisfy your sweet tooth and enjoy a variety of baked goods, while also giving your body some extra nutrients!
Just in case you need a little more convincing, here are 5 more ways your health can benefit from breaking off your relationship with refined sugars and adding medjool dates to your life!
1. Improve your skin!
When you consume a lot of refined sugar, you end up with a lot of sugar in your bloodstream. High blood sugar levels can hinder your body’s production of collagen, which is the protein that maintains your skin’s plumpness and youthful glow. Eliminating refined sugar can help prevent wrinkles and lessen signs of aging.
Medjool dates contain vitamin C, D and other nutrients that help boost your skin’s elasticity and keep your skin soft and smooth.
2. Boost your energy levels!
Because artificial sugars are simple carbohydrates, they are digested quickly and go straight into your bloodstream which leads to what we call a sugar rush! We all know what happens after that sugar high wears off… a sugar crash. If you’re wondering why you’re having trouble concentrating and feeling drowsy when afternoon rolls around, it might be because you consumed refined sugar on your lunch break.
Medjool dates, on the other hand, are an awesome way to give yourself an energy boost without getting the jitters and without the nasty crash. Due to their high fiber content, your body absorbs their natural sugars slower so you can use it as an energy source for longer.
3. Slim down around your tummy!
We are all aware that a bad refined sugar habit can lead to some excess weight, especially around the tummy area. This is because high blood sugar levels cause a spike in your insulin levels, which causes abdominal fat to accumulate. Even if you don’t mind having a little more to love around the middle, abdominal fat may lead to other serious health issues. Cutting out refined sugar can help you slim down around your tummy and prevent future illnesses.
Medjool dates not only support healthy digestion, but also have a relatively low glycemic index. This means that they do not cause a major spike in your insulin levels.
4. Support a healthy heart!Indulging in too much refined sugar can be detrimental to your cardiovascular system. It’s best to reduce your sugar intake now to prevent future problems with your heart health!
Because medjool dates are high in antioxidants and fiber, they may have great benefits to your heart health. Fiber can help lower the bad cholesterol in your system, while antioxidants protect your body from stress.
5. Stop feeling “hangry”!
One of the shifty things about refined sugar is that it tricks your body into thinking you’re hungry, even when you’re not! This turns into a vicious cycle. Your false hunger causes you to eat more sugary foods, which in turn causes you to gain weight. When you have excessive weight, your body becomes resistant to the hormone called leptin, which helps you feel full. And round and round it goes.
By limiting the amount of refined sugar you consume, you can stay full for longer, minimize your cravings, and stop feeling hangry! The more opportunities you can find to replace refined sugar with medjool dates, the more cravings you can control to beat this vicious cycle.
Refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup. Whatever you call it, the effect is all the same. When you eliminate refined sugar from your regular diet and incorporate healthier substitutions, you’ll see a major difference in the way you feel.
And the good news is cutting back on refined sugar does not have to be so challenging! Medjool dates are a sweet alternative that can not only help you kick your sugar habit, but provide an abundance of other health benefits as well. Next time you’re in the mood for something sugary, try baking with medjool dates or date syrup and indulge guilt-free. Check out this easy date syrup recipe below.
How to Make Date SyrupIn order to make 1 cup of medjool date syrup, you’ll need:
- 6 cups of water
- 4 cups of Joolies Medjool Dates
- Bring ingredients to a boil in a large pot.
- Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cover for 1 hour, occasionally stirring and using the back of a spoon to crush the dates.
- Place a double layer of cheesecloth into your colander.
- Position the colander over your bowl.
- Pour your date and water mixture into the colander.
- Press down with the back of a large spoon or ladle to force the liquid through to the bowl.
- Fold over the cheesecloth and place a heavy pot/bowl on the dates.
- Allow to rest for 1 hour to drain.
- Once the mixture has cooled down enough so it won’t burn your hand, gather the cheesecloth with the dates and squeeze the excess liquid into the bowl.
- Pour mixture into a medium saucepan and boil.v Lower heat again to a simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it does not burn. It will start to thicken.
Good news if you’re not a big DIY-er: Joolies takes the hard work out of the process and makes 100% organic medjool date syrup with dates from our farm. We won’t judge if you go the easy route, we encourage it! Date-ing made easy ;)