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Dates have a variety of antioxidants
In addition to vitamins and minerals, dates are rich in health-protective antioxidants, natural antioxidants that can be used to manage diseases related to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to deal with their harmful effects. It is a precursor to aging and cell damage that can lead to disease. Dates also contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds, meaning they may also play a role in fighting infectious diseases.
Other research has shown that dates contain many antioxidants, including carotenoids, polyphenols (eg, phenolic acids, isoflavones, lignans, and flavonoids), tannins, and sterols. They also have antifungal properties.
- Dates are naturally sweet and have no added sugar
Many people think of dates as dried fruit, but they are actually fresh fruit, because no water is removed from it, and since dates are whole and unprocessed fruit, their sugar content is naturally present. In other words, if an energy bar is sweetened only with dates, the label can list 0 grams of added sugar. This is important, because added sugar is harmful because of its association with increased risk of heart disease and obesity, and we need to limit it.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day, which equates to 25 grams or 100 calories. The recommended amount for men is 9 teaspoons of added sugar, which is 36 grams or 150 calories. If you use dates to sweeten a meal or recipe, unlike sweeteners like cane sugar, you haven’t actually used up any of your daily added sugar budget.