Dates – It is not that it is so important to fit dates into the diet, but since we do like sugar I thought it important to include them here as a great choice for nature’s “candy”. While they are high in sugar (60-70%) they share many of the characteristics of prunes and raisins. They are an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins niacin, B6, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and the minerals copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and phosphorous, zinc, selenium and folic acid. Dates actually contain 260% more potassium than oranges and 64% more than bananas, but they do contain 60% more calories! Potassium is important for controlling blood pressure and has been shown to lower rates of heart disease and stroke.
They have the same effect on the bowels as prunes, providing the soluble and insoluble fiber and promote regularity and intestinal health. Dates contain a special kind of soluble fiber called beta-d-glucan which seems to decrease the body’s absorption of cholesterol. It also seems to control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of glucose in the small intestine. Its ability to absorb and hold water adds bulk and softness to stools, thus easing and slowing down the passage through the colon. This increases the feeling of satiety and eases hunger (much like the foods above). So even though they are high in sugar they can be used wisely for appetite and weight control as well as providing satiety and satisfying a sweet tooth at the same time! Dates are also rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds.
Some really good news about dates is that they are actually one of the highest alkaline forming foods in the body. Keeping a healthy alkaline balance is vital to health and well- being.