Believed to be one of the oldest fruit crops, the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) has been cultivated and consumed for over 5,000 years. Originating from North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, dates have been an important food for a number of cultures.1 While you may have heard of dates before, you may be wondering what are Medjool dates?
As one of the most popular varieties of dates, Medjool dates are a brown, oval shaped fruit that is dried before being eaten. Native to Morocco, Medjool dates are now largely grown in Southern California and Arizona.2 Below you can find out more about Medjool dates nutrition facts and benefits.
What is the Difference Between Medjool Dates and Normal Dates?
As one the most common varieties of dates in North American, the Medjool date, is said to have an almost caramel-like flavor and is considered sweeter than the Deglet Noor date, which is known for its classic date flavor. Medjool dates are also described as having a softer texture and are generally larger than other date varieties.
Medjool date nutrition may vary slightly from brand to brand. The average sugar content in Medjool dates is approximately 16 grams per one pitted date. The total carbs in Medjool dates are about 18 grams per one date. The average number of calories in a Medjool date is about 66, but this varies greatly because they come in such a wide variety of sizes. Each Medjool date also contains 0.43 grams of protein, 0.04 grams of fat, and 1.61 grams of fiber.3are packed with minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium and zinc and also contain B vitamins and vitamin A.1,2,3
Are Medjool Dates Gluten-Free?
Yes, medjool dates are naturally gluten-free. If you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, however, be sure to check the packaging of the brand you choose to avoid any issues.
Are Medjool Dates Fattening?
When consumed in small quantities Medjool dates are not fattening and are healthy snack. As mentioned above, they only contain about 0.04 grams of fat per date.3 However, some people may consider these fruits fattening because they are high in sugar, which can be converted and stored as fat in the body. If this has left you wondering “are Medjool dates good for you?”, the answer is yes, they are low-fat, contain dietary fiber and several essential minerals.2,3
How Long Do Medjool Dates Last?
Medjool dates can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 months. For those new to consuming this dried fruit, you may be wondering “should Medjool dates be refrigerated?” Soft dates like Medjools can be stored at regular refrigerator temperature (32 degrees F) to be kept up to 6 months. If you store them in the freezer at -18 degrees F, they will keep for even longer, as long as the humidity level is below 75 percent. Store dates in airtight plastic bags or containers and check them every month or two to ensure they have not gone bad.4
Medjool Dates Benefits
Medjool dates benefits include:
1. Improve digestion
2. Support a healthy weight
3. Maintain iron levels
4. Increase energy
5. Promote heart health
6. Support healthy blood glucose levels
7. Support healthy bones
8. Antioxidant activity
While often thought of as a simple snack, increasing research has identified Medjool dates as a functional food with a variety of notable advantages. Below, we outline the top eight Medjool dates health benefits backed by the latest scientific research.
- Improve Digestion
One of the most commonly enjoyed benefits of Medjool dates is improved digestion, thanks to its high fiber content. Dietary fiber helps kick your digestive system into motion, moving material along that may have been “stuck.” Those suffering from constipation or irregularity may benefit from adding Medjool dates to their diets.5
- Support a Healthy Weight
Though they taste like a sweet treat, Medjool dates support a healthy overall weight. The fiber found in these fruits is hard for the body to digest, forcing your body to burn more calories to process them. Fiber-rich foods also make you feel satisfied faster and full for longer, leading you to eat less.5
- Maintain Iron Levels
Thanks to their high iron content, Medjool dates may support healthy iron levels. Too little iron in the blood can cause fatigue, dizziness and cramping.6
- Increase Energy
Feeling exhausted? One of the many health benefits of Medjool dates is that they can give you a natural energy boost. With a combination of iron (which can cause fatigue if levels are too low) and natural sugars (which give the body an energy source to burn), these fruits are the perfect snack for an afternoon pick-me-up.6
- Promote Heart Health
In a 2009 study, Medjool dates were shown to lower blood triglyceride levels and have natural antiatherogenic properties, which may help reduce the buildup of plaque in artery walls.1 Additionally, Medjool dates contain vitamin B6 and magnesium. Vitamin B6 is thought to lower your risk for heart attacks by decreasing the amount of a certain amino acid in the blood.7 Magnesium may lower blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.8
- Does not Increase Blood Glucose Levels
Compared to other sugary snacks, the high fiber content found in Medjool dates may help balance blood sugar levels by slowing digestion.5 The magnesium found in these fruits may help the body break down sugars and may help decrease insulin resistance.9 Despite containing 16 g of sugar per date, consuming Medjool dates did not worsen serum glucose levels in a 2009 study.1
- Supports Healthy Bones
Among the many Medjool dates nutritional benefits, this variety is rich in magnesium and calcium, which may improve bone mineral density.2 Maintaining adequate magnesium levels may support strong bones and decrease your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.8
- Antioxidant Activity
Medjool dates have been noted in several scientific studies to contain natural antioxidants, which help combat and reduce potentially harmful free radicals in the body.1,2 One study noted that consumption of Medjool dates significantly decreased oxidative stress.
Medjool Dates Uses
Wondering how to incorporate these delicious snacks into your diet? Read on for the eight easy ways to add Medjool dates to every meal.
- On Their Own
Medjool dates are most frequently consumed “out of hand,” meaning just on their own. While these sweet fruits are the perfect size for snacking, you can also add them to your favorite trail mix for an interesting alternative to raisins.
- In Baking
Baked goods are some of the most popular Medjool dates recipes. Chop them up and add them to cookies, pies, cakes, and breads to enjoy them as dessert. Dates’ sticky texture also makes them ideal for binding no-bake snacks like granola bars and protein balls.
- Stuffed Dates
Stuffed Medjool dates also make a great appetizer. Slice them open, remove the pits, and fill with cream cheese, chopped nuts or peanut butter.
- On Salads
Dried fruits add sweetness to bitter greens, making them the perfect salad topping. Chop up some Medjool dates and sprinkle them on top of your favorite salad.
- In Smoothies
Blending in chopped, pitted organic Medjool dates adds a rich sweetness, extra fiber and vitamins to any smoothie or acai bowl. Try them with bananas and almond milk for a tasty treat.
- As A Sweetener
If you are trying to cut processed, artificial sugars from your diet, Medjool dates are the perfect alternative. They can be made into a syrup or paste and used as a natural sweetener. Add them to smoothies, baked goods, as a pancake topping, or even in hot drinks.
- In Meat Dishes
Many North African and Middle Eastern meat dishes feature dried fruits, including Medjool dates. One tasty option is a chicken or lamb tagine, a one-pot Moroccan dish. Adding chopped dates to the slightly spicy sauce of this dish gives it a depth of flavor everyone in your family will enjoy.
- On Sandwiches
Medjool dates might sound like a strange addition to sandwiches, but their natural sweetness is incredibly versatile. Try adding dates to a salty sandwich like prosciutto or grilled cheese to balance the flavors.
Medjool Dates Side Effects
Because they are dried, it is easy to overeat Medjool dates. This may cause consumers to increase their calorie or sugar intake without realizing it. As a result, this may cause an increase in blood sugar levels. Constant over consumption may also contribute to weight gain over time.9 Medjool dates also contain fiber, which may cause minor gastrointestinal discomfort.
Where to Buy Medjool Dates
Medjool dates are easy to find if you know where to look. Health food and bulk stores like Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are generally a good place to start if you want to buy them in store. You can also order Medjool dates online from major retailers like Amazon, which offer a wider selection.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Rock, W., Rosenblat, M., Borochov-Neori, H., Volkova, N., Judeinstein, S., Elias, M., & Aviram, M. (2009). Effects of date (Phoenix dactylifera L., Medjool or Hallawi Variety) consumption by healthy subjects on serum glucose and lipid levels and on serum oxidative status: A pilot study. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,57(17), 8010-7.DOI:1021/jf901559a
- Vayalil, P. (2012). Date Fruits (Phoenix dactylifera Linn): An Emerging Medicinal Food. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition,52(3), 249-271. DOI:1080/10408398.2010.499824
- University of Rochester Medical Center. (2017). Dates, medjool, 1 date, pitted—Health Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 16, 2017 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=76&contentid=09421-1.
- University of California Postharvest Center. (n.d.). Ask the Produce Docs—Do you have information about storing dried fruit in freezer conditions? Retrieved on November 16, 2017 from http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Ask_the_Produce_Docs/?uid=172&ds=800.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Dietary fiber: essential for a healthy diet. Retrieved on November 16, 2017 from https://www.mayo.edu/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015). Iron. Retrieved on November 16, 2017 from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/iron.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016). Vitamin B6—Consumer Fact Sheet. Retrieved on November 16, 2017 from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-Consumer/.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016). Magnesium—Consumer Fact Sheet. Retrieved on November 16, 2017 from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/.
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2016). Is eating dried fruit healthy? Retrieved on November 16, 2017 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/is-eating-dried-fruit-healthy.