Friday, June 06, 2008


A summer date is very healthy

With summer approaching, most people look forward to some of the typical juicy summer fruits and vegetables such as peaches, plums, melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

However, there’s good reason to consider taking a brief time-out from the traditional healthy garden items for one seasonal tasty food that’s unconventional and often forgotten: Dates.

Dates, for a quarter of a cup (considered one serving of fruit), have 125 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, and about 4 grams of fiber. They also have more potassium than an orange (more than 250 percent ounce per ounce) or a banana (more than 60 percent of the potassium ounce per ounce).

This fruit (which grows on palm trees), is still eaten regularly today by many Arabic tribes in those areas where they are usually grown.

It is not unusual for them to be made into pastes with the consistency of peanut butter, eaten candied, or consumed with the pit removed with butter replaced inside.

They are an excellent source of carbohydrate (can contain as much as 70% natural sugar for energy) without the cholesterol and sodium, yet they contain the added dietary fiber that most Americans do not get enough of in their diets -- women and men require 25 and 30 grams or more per day, respectively.

How does one incorporate dates into their everyday diet? Try sprinkling them on your cereal in the morning, adding a handful or two to baked goods, or even eating them alone as a snack.

With all the fiber and potassium in this healthy fruit option, say “yes” to a sweet date this summer.

Whitney Bundy is a registered dietitian and Director of the Food & Nutrition Department at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Bundy and all of the Healthy Living columnists at or comment on their blog at

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