People have been enjoying dates for thousands of years. And, for as long as people have been eating them, they have believed them to hold robust health and healing properties.
Dates originated in the Middle East, but their cultivation and popularity have spread around the world. And now, with more research, health experts are confirming the health benefits of dates. Research into date fruit nutrition is a growing area and continues to discover new ways dates keep us healthy.
However, despite their great taste, numerous health qualities, and increasing populatiry, there are still many misconceptions that keep people from really enjoying dates regularly. Let's clear up some common misconceptions about dates so you can start enjoying the date fruit nutrition and great taste.
Misconception #1: All dates in the United States are imported.
Many people think that dates are only grown in certain tropical regions. In fact, while they are native to the Persian Gulf area of the Middle East, they are grown all over the world.
In the United States, the most substantial amount of dates come from Southern California, followed by Arizona. They are also grown in Florida, Nevada, Southern Utah, and Texas. The most widely grown type of dates in the U.S. are the "Deglet Noor" and "Medjool" varieties.
Misconception #2: All dates found in the United States are dried.
While dried dates are quite popular and available year-round, fresh dates are available, especially during the harvest season. Dates are harvested in the late fall and early winter and are easy to find that time of year. Also, dates hold up well to refrigeration, so it is possible to find fresh dates year-round at some stores.
While some prefer them dry, fresh dates are moist and delicious. Because they are grown in the U.S., at the right time of the year, consumers can enjoy dates just days after harvesting. Some believe the best way to enjoy dates is fresh off the tree.
Misconception #3: Dates with pits are difficult to eat.
Some consumers avoid fresh dates because they believe the pit will make them too difficult to enjoy. In fact, all you need to do is make a small cut in the top, peel back the sides, and pull out the seed.
You can also remove pits using a chopstick or other similar sized and shape tool. Just insert the small end of the chopstick into the end of the date and carefully push until the pit pops out.
The best part? You can then stuff the date with cheese or the filling of your choice.
Misconception #4: Dates are hard to find.
If enjoying dates is new to you, you may think that they are difficult to find in your local store. The fact is, you may just not have noticed them. Many grocery stores in the U.S. carry dried dates year-round and fresh dates in season. Specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets may have multiple varieties of fresh and dried dates at all times of the year.
Misconception #5: Including dates in your diet is too difficult.
Adding new food to your diet can seem overwhelming. But there are so many ways to enjoy dates. You can throw a few in your breakfast cereal or oatmeal or chop them up for a sweet addition to a salad. They are also amazing stuffed. You can add feta cheese and walnuts or diced apples and pecans. If you are making bread or muffins, dice up some dates and add them in!
Misconception #6: Date sugar isn't really made from dates.
Some may find date sugar too good to be true, but it is really a fantastic alternative to processed sugars. Dried dates are ground into a coarse powder to make the sugar. It doesn't taste like the processed sugar you are used to, but many people like it better. It won't work for all recipes, but it tastes terrific sprinkled on foods.
Misconception #7: Dates only come in one variety.
If dates are new to your diet, you may not be familiar with the many varieties. There are two popular varieties in the United States, but worldwide, there are hundreds of different types of dates all with their own distinctive taste and texture.
Misconception #8: Dates spoil quickly.
Fresh dates not appropriately stored may go bad but, properly stored dates can last a long, long time. In antiquity, they were packed for long boat trips, desert crossings, and even in fortresses under siege. Properly stored, dates can last several years.
However, dates can go bad. The best way to tell is by looking and smelling. Bad dates may be discolored or moldy. They also may emit a strong, rotten odor.
Misconception #9: Dates are too high in sugar to be good for you.
Dates do indeed have a high sugar content. However, they are also very high in fiber and other nutrients. Therefore, dates, consumed in moderation can be exceptionally healthy even for those who are managing their blood sugar.
The Good News About Dates
Once we clear up some common misconceptions about dates, we realize that they are a delicious, nutritious food that can quickly become a part of our daily eating habits. The more we learn about dates, the more ways we can enjoy them both alone and with other foods.
Even better, the health benefits of dates are numerous. They may help us to avoid heart disease, help replace iron in our blood, promote bone health, reduce inflammation, promote proper digestion, and even keep our brains healthy.