Dates Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Dates

dates nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

The fruit of the date palm tree, dates have existed since prehistoric times and are believed to have been cultivated as early as 8,000 years ago. Native to the Middle East, there are over 100 different varieties of date palm trees. Dates hang in large clusters atop the towering palm trees and range in texture from hard, dry varieties to semi-dry types like Deglet Noor dates, and large, soft dates, such as Medjool dates (aka "the queen of dates"). The word date comes from the Greek word for finger, dáktulos, and alludes to the fruit's elongated shape. 

Although dates can appear to be dried, they're actually fresh fruits. Fresh, whole dates contain just 30 percent moisture, making them one of nature's only naturally "dried fruit." To prolong shelf life, many dates are left on the palm tree until completely ripe. Though they're slightly dry before being harvested, these dates—which are available at many specialty grocery stores—are still considered fresh.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one pitted date (7.1g).

  • Calories: 20
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0.1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.3g
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Sugars: 4.5g
  • Protein: 0.2g

Carbs in Dates

The sugar content in dates is extremely high (up to 70 percent of their weight comes from fructose), and their sweetness gets more intense as dates dry and lose moisture. Although sweet, because dates are a good source of fiber, they have a low glycemic load—meaning that when eaten in moderation, they should have a relatively mild impact on blood sugar levels. Indeed, one study found that dates didn't significantly increase blood sugar in people with or without diabetes. 

Fats in Dates

Dates are fat-free and cholesterol-free.

Protein in Dates

Dates supply a minimal amount of protein. You should include other protein sources in your diet to meet your daily needs.

Micronutrients in Dates

Unlike most other fruit, dates contain little vitamin C. Still, they supply six essential B vitamins, including biotin and pantothenic acid, and seven minerals, such as potassium, copper, magnesium, and iron, all of which are important in heart health. Among all fruits and vegetables, dates also have the highest concentration of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that can protect the body from cellular damage.

Health Benefits of Dates 

Dates are a good source of fiber. Fiber, the indigestible part of carbohydrate, is an important nutrient in the diet as it helps to keep you full, reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol, regulates bowels, and maintains steady blood sugar. Studies have found that those who eat adequate amounts of fiber are at healthier weights and have a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Common Questions About Dates 

What forms of dates are available for purchase? 

Pitted dates can be purchased as whole, chopped, or extruded. Extruded dates are coated with oat flour, rice flour, or dextrose and are mainly used in baking. Date juice is also available and can be used in making baked goods or smoothies.

What should I look for when buying dates?

Although packaged dates, both pitted and unpitted, are available all year, the season for fresh dates is from August to November. Dates should appear plump, glossy, and moist. They may be slightly wrinkled, but shouldn't be broken, cracked, dry, hard, or shriveled. They have a sticky-sweet, almost candied texture, and rich flavor.

For the longest shelf life, store soft and semi-soft varieties like Deglet Noor in the refrigerator, where they'll keep for up to 18 months. They can also be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Dried, packaged dates, which are pasteurized to inhibit mold growth, can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for about six months or the refrigerator for up to a year.

Are dates the same as prunes?

No. Though both are sweet and chewy, a date is its own fruit and a prune is really a dried plum. 

How do I remove the pits from dates?

If your dates have pits, simple slice them lengthwise to remove the stone. Be aware that even dates labeled as unpitted may occasionally still have pits.

Recipes and Preparation Tips  

Dates can be used to provide moisture and all-natural sweetness to baked goods, such as breads, muffins, cookies, and tarts. They can also be served stuffed with meat or cheese, as an appetizer or snack, or served with dried fruits and nuts. Chopped dates can be added to yogurt, hot cereals, smoothies, slaws, and salads. Try substituting them for raisins or apricots when conjuring up savory dishes, such as roasts or stews, or add them to marinades and glazes to add sweetness and balance other flavors.

Allergies and Interactions

Allergic reactions to dates aren't common and are usually limited to itching and inflammation in and around the mouth. Most allergies are caused by mold or sulfites. Dried dates are a common source of mold and sulfites are often added to dried fruit as a preservative. Symptoms often resemble those for asthma and can range from mild wheezing to a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction, which requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect you're allergic to dates, avoid eating them and talk to your doctor to determine the source of the problem. 

In a recent animal study, potassium-rich dates caused a potentially harmful increase in the blood level of the mineral when taken with the drug Zistril (lisinopril), a medication used to treat high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about any dietary restrictions if you take this drug, especially if you also have chronic kidney disease or type 2 diabetes.

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