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ENERGY BOOSTER. The easily digestible date is the ideal snack to fuel activity. A serving of power-packed dates contains 31 grams of carbohydrates, which include 3 grams of dietary fiber and 29 grams of naturally occurring sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose. Dates provide quick energy to a tired human body, making them a great choice for a pre-workout snack. GOOd SOuRcE Of fiBER. Dates are a saturated source of dietary fiber. The American Cancer Society recommends people consume 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. Consuming just seven dates a day gets you there! Who doesn’t want seven dates a day? Boyfriends and husbands, are you listening to the double entendre here? Dietary fiber comes in two forms – soluble and insoluble. Each serves a valuable function. Insoluble fiber increases the rate at which food moves through the digestive system. Soluble fiber may help control diabetes by decreasing elevated blood glucose levels. Soluble fiber also had been found to help lower serum cholesterol levels, particularly undesirable low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Wow! The health benefits of eating dates keep adding up!

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8 REASOnS TO EAT THIS TInY FRUIT! By Gina Ostarly

3 MAKE A DATE WITH A DATE

ecently, I was reminiscing about how I used to dance the night away to the Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson classic “Say Say Say.” That left me feeling somewhat dated. And that started me thinking about dates – the kind you eat, not the kind you go on. A weird train of thought, I know, but article ideas often come in strange packages. I haven’t included dates in my diet since the days I wore bell-bottom jeans. These tiny, portable packages of goodness are a powerhouse of nutrition. And they taste great. Dates aren’t just for use in puddings, desserts and cakes. Freed from all the sugary desserts they are usually caged in, dates are a sure-enough super food! Here eight reasons why you should make a date with a date:
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HiGH iN POTASSiuM. Dates are opulent in vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B5 A1, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. They are also one of the best natural sources of potassium. One tiny date has more potassium than a big ol’ banana! Potassium is an essential mineral your body needs to maintain muscle contractions including the vital heart muscle. Potassium is needed to maintain a healthy nervous system and to balance the body’s metabolism as well. Since potassium is not stored in the body, and much is lost in perspiration, it must be continually replenished. As you consume potassium you excrete sodium, helping to keep blood pressure down. As people age, their kidneys become

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less efficient at eliminating sodium. Research has recommended that a higher intake of potassium (about 400 mg) can cut the risk of stroke by 40 percent.

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HELPS TOuGHEN TOOTH ENAMEL. Want to stop the early progress of tooth decay? This fruit has mineral fluorine that protects teeth, by empowering tooth enamel. Tooth enamel’s hydroxyapatites (once when in touch with fluorine to make hydroxyfluoroapatites) help improve the tooth’s resistance to decay. That gives you another reason to smile! SExuAL STiMuLANT. Is your performance lacking? Build your endurance with this love potion: a handful of dates soaked overnight in goat’s milk with some cardamom powder and honey. Sound a little funky? Sure it does. I can’t wait for the men reading this article to hit the grocery store in search of goat’s milk and dates. Ladies, this is your chance to give your man the entire shopping list while he’s on the errand. REducES RiSK Of HEART diSEASE. Dates have the highest concentration of polyphenols among all dried fruits, according to researchers at the University of Scranton (Penn.) The findings of this research suggest that dried fruits should be a greater part of the diet as they are dense in phenol antioxidants and nutrients, most notably fiber. Polyphenols may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. SATiSfiES YOuR SwEET TOOTH. Dates have a low calorie count: around 23 calories for a single fruit. That makes dates important both for what they offer and for what they don’t offer. Dates have no cholesterol, fat or sodium – making them suitable for health conscious people. True, dates provide more calories than most fruits, but they make a great substitute for processed sweets, like candy. That provides a healthy alternative to help stick to your weight-loss routine.

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A cROwN Of SwEETS Dates work well in salads, oatmeal and yogurt. Chopped or slivered, dates can even be sprinkled on side dishes like rice, couscous or vegetables. To slice or chop dates, chill them first. The colder they are, the easier they are to slice. Most American dates are grown in Arizona and California. You can find dates in the produce department of your local grocer. When deciding on dates, look for plump, evenlycolored ones. All dates have a single long seed, which range in shape from oblong to round, depending on the cultivar. The date should not look dry or withered, and no crystals should appear on the skin. You’re not buying prunes here. Packaged dates are available whole, pitted or chopped. Dried dates keep for up to a year in the refrigerator. Fresh dates should be refrigerated in tightly sealed containers and they’ll keep fresh for up to eight months. If stored in the kitchen cabinet, they’ll stay fresh for about a month. There you have the deal on dates! And while you’re at it, that recipe with the dates, goat’s milk and honey could be the start to entirely different kind of great date! You’re welcome in advance! MS&F

REciPE #2

GREEK YOGuRT wiTH dATE ANd HONEY SwiRL (240 calories) • 6 oz Greek yogurt • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts • 3 dates, fresh or dried, diced • 1 tsp of honey Stir dates and nuts into yogurt, drizzle honey on top.

REciPE #1

ALMONd-STuffEd dATES (150 calories) • 5 dates, pitted • 5 whole almonds Stuff almonds into dates.
Photos by Walt Ostarly

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