While dates may not be at the top of your grocery list, this little fruit deserves a little more credit for its fantastic flavor and powerful nutritional benefits. This sweet and sugary fruit packs an incredible amount of vitamins, nutrients and other healthy compounds into each bite.

What Are Dates?

Dates are a type of sugary fruit that are most popular in the Middle East and Africa. Dates can be either fresh or dried, and can be eaten as a snack or used in desserts, granola bars, salads and other dishes. Though they have been eaten in the Middle East for centuries, the fruits were only introduced to the U.S. about 100 years ago, when explorers brought them back from Morocco in the early 20th century.

wooden bowl of dates on wood surface

SMarina/Shutterstock

What Are The Health Benefits Of Dates?

Despite their misleading sweetness that is akin to candy, dates are remarkably healthy fruits. Dates are packed with vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin K and folate. Dates are also incredibly high in fiber, which regulates your blood pressure, helps maintain bowel health and lowers your blood sugar levels, among other health benefits. Because of the fruit's nutritional makeup, eating dates helps with everything from relieving constipation to strengthening bones and promoting heart health. However, dates are also high in carbohydrates and sugars, so eating too many can negative impact your health and lead to weight gain.

hands holding dried dates in small blue bowl

MIA Studio/Shutterstock

How Do You Use Dates?

Because dates are so sweet, they make for a delicious stand-alone snack, either fresh or dried. However, the fruit can also be added to a plethora of recipes to add nutrients, sweetness and texture.

Date Orange Bread

Tired of making run-of-the-mill banana bread? Try doing something different by making bread made with dates, walnuts and orange juice. This recipe uses a cup of dates to add sweetness and texture to this dessert bread. The orange juice also complements the dates' flavor, making the fruit even more delicious.

Healthy Banana Cookies

These cookies are filled with bananas, dates and oats for a healthy, hearty snack that won't pack on the calories. The dates and vanilla extract provide all the sweetness that pairs well with the creamy banana flavors. Just mix the ingredients together, bake for 20 minutes and dig in.

Orange Salad With Dates

This healthy salad combines blood oranges, dates, feta cheese and mint for a delicious and refreshing taste. The sweet, citrus and salty flavors interact with each other to create a truly extraordinary dish.

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