The Best Natural Sweetener for Raw Food … Good Old Fashioned Dates!

In this guest editorial, Matt shares what why dates are his favorite sweetener.

So many sweeteners have popped up over the many years since I’ve been in the Raw Foods movement.  These sweeteners include agave, coconut sugar, Jerusalem Artichoke syrup and the list goes on.  While these may be great healthy sweeteners and good alternatives to refined sugars, I have found that the best natural sweetener to use in my raw food recipes are good old-fasioned dates.  It’s simply a whole food and I just blend them in my recipes.  Even my raw barbecue sauce!

Dates are rich in rich in vitamins and minerals, improve triglycerides, fight free radicals and improve the appearance of skin and hair!

Dates are a popular food of the Middle East and are included as a regular part of their diet.  Dates are rich in nutrients and can cure stomach ailments and strengthen the bodies immune system.  If you haven’t tried dates before, here are six reasons that I hope will motivate you to include dates as a regular part of your diet. (1)

Six reasons to incorporate dates into your daily diet!

Vitamins:  Dried dates contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Niacin and Riboflavin.

Minerals:  If you struggle with hemoglobin deficiency or anemia, dates contain a high iron content that can resolve these issues.  Dates are also rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium.Date Tree

Constipation:  If you have irregular bowel movements, dates are a great source of dietary fiber that will serve as a mild laxative.

Strengthen Muscles
:  Dates have been found to help strengthen heart muscles.  It is advised the pregnant women eat dates to strengthen uterine muscles and make delivery easier.  Many body builders consume dates prior to a workout to improve energy.

Stamina:  Dates improve physical stamina as well as libido due the amount of minerals and phytonutrients they provide to the body.

Digestion:  Dates provide relief from heart burn and acidity and help sooth ulcers and colitis.  They also help curb the growth of pathological organisms in the intestines and encourage healthy bacteria to grow. (1)
Study finds that eating large amounts of dates had no adverse effects on blood sugar levels or weight but did improve triglycerides and antioxidant stress levels!

Dates are cholesterol free, low in fat but they are high in sugar.  Dates by weight, contain 80 percent sugar.  Israeli scientists conducted a study where they gave a group of people large amounts of dates and measured the results.  They found that that the dates had no adverse effects on blood sugar or weight and that their triglycerides and antioxidant stress levels improved.  (2)

Dates have anti-inflammatory benefits, reducing inflammation in arterial walls resulting in a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other ailments.  They have also been found to improve brain performance, resulting in improved test scores. (2)

Regular consumption of dates can result in healthy, datesglowing skin and hair!

Loaded with vital nutrients, dried dates can nourish our skin and improve its texture. Regular consumption of these fruits can result in smoother and fairer skin. (3)

Outside of internal health benefits, dates may be the best kept beauty secret on the market.  Regular consumption of dates can contribute to hair and skin health.  Dates are a rich source of vitamin B5 that helps prevent brittle hair and split ends.  Dates have also been found to help prevent excessive hair fallout by providing nourishment to hair roots and scalp.(3)

The vitamin B5 content of dates is also beneficial for the skin, resulting in the reduction of free radical skin damage.  The vitamin A content in dates helps eliminate dry, dead skin and regenerate healthy, bright, and glowing skin cells. (3)

Because dates are a great source of vital nutrients, eating dates on a regular basis can help fight against untimely aging.(3)

When picking dates, search for those with unbroken, smoothly wrinkled skin.  Dried dates keep up to a year in the refrigerator and fresh dates can keep for 8 months in the refrigerator if they are sealed in tight containers. (2)

Dates are a great alternative for sweetener and are a great addition to your favorite recipes or will even sweeten a smoothie. (2)  If you make your own granola bars or energy bars, consider adding dates in to help make them sweet and chewy.  If you have a sweet tooth, dates are an excellent and healthy way to satisfy a craving!

Sources included:

by Matthew Monarch, February 2016

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