Dried dates can be a delicious part of any diet, and they can be used in a surprisingly large number of ways.
What are Dried Dates?
Dried dates should, first and foremost, not be confused with fresh dry dates. Fresh dates typically come in three forms – soft, semi-soft, and dry. Each of these types can be used in various ways and in specific culinary instances, but even a dry fresh date has some moisture present. Much of it has been removed to extend the shelf life, but a dried date goes through an even more intensive dehydration process. This gives dried dates a very long shelf life – 12 months or more – depending on the storage conditions. If you freeze-dried dates, they can retain their flavor and nutrient density even longer – up to 5 years!
These dates provide a more concentrated burst of nutrients, as well as a stronger flavor, which is why they are often preferred, and they are relatively easy to find in stores and markets around the world, being a major export of Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.
Dried Dates Nutrition
Dried dates have a unique nutritional profile, as they are unusually high in calories. Since all of the water has been removed, a single serving of dates represents about 285 calories, twice as many as the same serving volume of fresh dates. That same serving of dried dates has 5 grams of fiber and about 3 grams of protein. These dried dates also contain vitamin C and K, calcium, B vitamins, and iron, along with various trace amounts of other minerals and antioxidants.
Dried Dates Benefits
Dried dates benefit the cardiovascular system, prevent chronic diseases, and strengthen the hair. They also have the ability to improve the appearance of the skin.
Potassium is found in good quantities within these dates, which can help lower blood pressure. The high fiber density also lowers overall cholesterol levels and reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Aid in Digestion
Dried dates contain both dietary fiber and Beta-D-glucan, both of which can contribute to feelings of satiety and prevent overeating, while also improving nutrient uptake and relieving symptoms of indigestion.
Good levels of iron, calcium, and vitamin C contribute to the healthy production of hair and a reduction in inflammatory conditions that can cause hair loss and dandruff.
These dates are a good source of carbohydrates and these tiny dried fruits can represent a major energy boost at any time of day.
If you need to bulk up or gain weight quickly, for fitness or recovery reasons, following an injury or illness, eating dried dates can give you a major calorie boost.
Fresh vs Dried Dates
Fresh dates come in three main varieties, as mentioned earlier, and are not as common as the dried variety. Dried dates are more commonly found in other countries, as they are easier to export and keep fresh. Dried and fresh dates can be stored in both the refrigerator and the freezer, although the dried variety can keep for far longer.
In terms of appearance, the dried form of dates may resemble a large raisin or a long wilted grape; the dehydration process causes this wrinkling of the skin. A fresh date, however, will be a darker, red color and will have fewer wrinkles, appearing plump and firm.