So you need some date advice? (Insert bad pun about dates and dating).
Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about dates. Not the awkward small talk kind; the fruit kind — specifically Medjool dates vs. normal dates.
If you don’t know what a date is, it’s that expensive thing in the produce aisle that looks like a giant raisin. But despite their appearance, dates have nothing to do with raisins, grapes or any other type of fruit. Native to the Middle East and northern Africa, dates grow from a date palm — yup, there are palm trees that grow dates. They are a staple in Middle Eastern and cuisine, and are also popular in Mediterranean regions. Because of the dry, warm climate, California has also become a date-growing area. The fruit grows in bunches on the tree and is harvested and dried before selling — but we use the term “dry” lightly. A good date is moist, chewy and oh so sweet (this is where the Medjool dates vs. normal dates debate comes in. But more on that later).
Because they have a high sugar and fiber concentration, dates are a great natural sweetener, which is why we use them in Rez Bars. “Fiber slows digestion and may help prevent blood sugar levels from spiking too high after eating,” a Healthline article writes. Because of this, dates are a guilt-free treat. They do have a high calorie count but we use them in small amounts for an overall low calorie Rez Bar. You can also use dates to bake healthy versions of brownies and cookies or sweeten your smoothies with them.
While all dates are delicious, not all dates are the same. Rez Bars use organic Medjool dates, which are native to Morocco. We source them locally from a family business. Why? We will tell you.
Medjool dates vs. Normal dates
Think of Medjool dates as the kings and queens of the date world. Medjool dates are bigger, sweeter (often characterized as caramel-like) and have a darker, richer color than normal dates or their proper name, Deglet Noor dates, which is the more common variety found here in the U.S. Medjool dates are chewy, sticky and fleshy, while Deglet Noor dates are firmer and less intensely sweet. Medjool dates also tend to be more expensive than normal dates, but they’re worth the splurge.
“Medjool dates are large and most often used in cooking and baking. They're moist and sweet, with skin that can range from brown to nearly black. The amber-colored Deglet Noor is drier, firmer, and more elongated, with a slight nutty flavor. It holds its texture well when cooked. Dates that are sold pitted and/or dried are usually Deglets,” a date expert told Epicurious. Medjool dates are typically sold un-pitted, so be careful when you bite into one.
What are the benefits of Medjool dates vs. normal dates?
According to Healthline, all dates contain iron, potassium, and B vitamins. But Medjool dates contain more calcium. The article also explains that the high fiber content in Medjool dates is good for digestion, and may even be good for your heart health. “Fiber can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and keep your arteries clean, reducing your risk of heart disease. Just 2 dates (48 grams) contains over 3 grams of fiber,” Healthline writes.
They are also a great source of energy. Eating a healthy snack like dates versus a processed sweet gives you, not only that sugar high, but all the aforementioned nutrients, which help keep your body energized and alert. Think about when you eat too many cookies or candies, you feel kind of gross and sluggish right? Well, think of a date like a candy that won’t make that happen!
There is also some evidence to suggest that the antioxidants in Medjool dates might be good for brain health. “One animal study found that mice fed food mixed with dates had significantly better memory and learning ability, as well as less anxiety-related behaviors, compared to those that did not eat them,” writes Healthline.
How to shop for Medjool dates vs. normal dates
Okay, so we told you how to spot the differences between Medjool dates vs. normal dates (or Deglet Noor dates). Now, how do you shop for them? As we said, you will find dates in the produce aisle, usually in a bin. Medjool dates should be a rich, dark hue, but if your store only has Deglet Noor dates, look for a lighter skin; if they are too dark that means they’re old, writes Epicurious.
Epicurious suggests looking for dates that look plump and not crystalized (meaning kind of crunchy and like there are little sugar crystals on them). If you have ever eaten a crystalized date, it’s not great — it’s very tough and dry. If you can’t decipher the plumpness just by looking at it, squeeze the date gently; if it feels kind of pliable and soft, it’s good to go; if it’s rock hard, take a pass. Dates will keep in the fridge for a good amount of time, but eventually they will start to crystalize. But if you buy in bulk, you can actually freeze them, according to Epicuruous.
Of course, if you don’t feel like shopping for dates, just order some Rez Bars and get your daily dose of Medjool dates in one easy snack!