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a bowl of dates

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The fruit of the date-palm tree is chewy and intensely sweet, with notes of toffee and butterscotch. Large, caramelly Medjool dates are the most standard variety, though smaller, nuttier Deglet Noor dates are also widely available. Dried varieties are more common than fresh dates because of their longer shelf life. You can cook with dates, eat them whole as a snack, or use them as a natural sugar substitute or sweetener.

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Look for plump, shiny dates that aren’t too shriveled or dry. Keep an eye out for white spots on the skin, which indicate older fruits whose sugars have begun to crystallize. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks or freeze them for up to a year. Because of their high sugar content, dates won’t freeze solid, and they’ll retain their characteristic chewy texture.

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Dates are rich in insoluble fiber. They’re also a source of calcium and potassium, and they contain phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti- inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. Their naturally occurring sugar also delivers an energy boost — just be sure to pair dates with a source of fat, like nut butter, to moderate the blood-sugar response.

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Because of their chewy, sticky texture, dates make ideal binding ingredients for energy bites and bars. Learn how to make your own at “How to Make Energy Bars“. Need a make-ahead appetizer for your next dinner party? Try our Pecan and Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates. Or have your dates for breakfast with our Almond-Cardamom Chia Pudding.

This article originally appeared as “Dates” in the April 2022 issue of Experience Life.

Illustrations by: Jennifer Jacobsen
Callie Chase
Callie Fredrickson

Callie Fredrickson is a content editor at Life Time.

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