It’s a date … the fruit, that is

It’s a date … the fruit, that is

Let’s talk about dates. No, not romantic dates — the fruit!

Dates are an oval-shaped, sweet fruit cultivated from a plant in the palm tree family. The fruit has been a staple in Middle Eastern diets for thousands of years and dates are believed to have originated in what is now Iraq. In America, dates are often served wrapped in bacon or used as ingredients in other recipes, but there are health benefits to eating them by themselves.

Dates are a great way to increase your dietary fiber intake. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, a one-quarter-cup serving of dates contains three grams of fiber. A diet rich in fiber can reduce your risk for developing diabetes and high blood pressure.

Also, dates contain two essential minerals: potassium and magnesium. Potassium is necessary for organs including the heart and kidneys to work. Magnesium strengthens bones and teeth, and an adequate intake of this mineral can reduce your risk of osteoporosis and depression.

All of those health benefits would be irrelevant if dates didn’t taste good, but they have a caramel-like flavor, leading to their nickname: nature’s candy. They’re a sugar-free and low-calorie dessert alternative that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Dates are also low-glycemic, which means despite their sweetness, they won’t increase your blood sugar levels.

Dates should be chosen based on looks: You’re looking for fruit that is bright and shiny. Dates have a long shelf life when refrigerated.

The next time you visit the grocery store, grab a box of dates from the produce aisle. A sweet way to add a nutritional boost to your diet, these dates won’t leave you disappointed.

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