The Latest Sweetener: Dates



Fresh dates in a white bowl

Photo by: leicafan


Fresh dates in a white bowl

As the latest Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting total added sugar to 10 percent of total daily calories, health-conscious people are on the lookout for ways to naturally sweeten food. Dates are one delicious way to sweeten all types of dishes.

Dates are native to the Middle East; in the U.S. they are grown in California and Florida. Fresh dates are usually picked off the tree and ripened before being dried, which is how they are usually found at the market. There are several varieties of dried dates available, including Medjool and Deglet Noor. Dried dates can be found year-round and are sold pitted, unpitted and even chopped. Store dried dates in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months or in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.

Nutrition Info

One pitted Medjool date has 66 calories, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of natural sugar and 2 grams of fiber. It also contains an array of nutrients like copper, magnesium, calcium and B vitamins. Adding several dates, or chopped pitted dates, into dishes can boost the fiber quickly. This has many benefits, including keeping your digestive system healthy.

Sweeten with Dates

Many folks underestimate the sweetening power of dates. They can be chopped finely and added into muffins, cookies and cakes. By adding sweetness with dates, you can tone down the amount of added sugar in the dish. Chopped dates can also be added to oatmeal, or yogurt in place of honey or maple syrup, while whole, pitted dates can be blended into a smoothie mix to sweeten it. Pureed dates can also be used in dressings or sweet potato pie, or as a glaze for lamb or beef.

Recipes to Try

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo by: Heather Anne Thomas ©2011 Heather Anne Thomas +1 865-681-6128. All rights reserved unless specifically granted in writing

Heather Anne Thomas, 2011 Heather Anne Thomas +1 865-681-6128. All rights reserved unless specifically granted in writing



Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved



Photo by: Renee Comet ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

Next Up

Is This Syrup the Next Trendy Sweetener?

Yacon syrup been dubbed a "game-changer" for slow metabolism -- and social media is exploding with promises of weight loss. But is the syrup worth the hype?

The Latest on Intermittent Fasting

A nutritionist looks at the latest newest research on intermittent fasting.

The Latest Hot Crop: Sorghum

This gluten-free whole grain has so many nutritional benefits. 

Monk Fruit Sweeteners

Sugary goodness, but no calories in sight. Is the newest no calorie sweetener made from the ancient Monk fruit too good to be true? Find out.

Sweeteners: Artificial Varieties

Everyone knows those little pastel packets at restaurants and coffee shops -- the artificial or no-calorie sweeteners. We see descriptions like "substitute," "natural" and "made from sugar" attached to these food additives, but what does it all mean? There is more to these "sweets" than meets the eye.

What’s Bob Dylan’s Latest Surprising Endeavor?

The answer, my friend, is that he’s launching a whiskey brand.

Burnt Veggies Are the Latest Thing

Burnt dishes used to be the mark of a distracted cook or an unfortunate mistake. Nowadays, though, the blackened and blistered, smoky and singed are on trend.

Croissant Corsages Are the Latest Prom Craze

You have to love this season’s latest craze: prom croissants.

Are Carbonated Teas the Latest Cafe Trend?

Trend watch: Keep an eye out for fancy carbonated teas on tap or in bottles at your local cafe this summer.