It's no secret that we're wild about all of nature's sweeteners like fruit, honey, and maple syrup, but dates are one of our favorite powerhouse ingredients for all their amazing health benefits. It's why you'll find it in most of our oat-based and grain free mueslis, plus our Cinnamon and Cocoa Sunflower Cereals.
Let's dive into why we love dates so much and why they're our number-one choice for naturally sweetening our breakfast products.
Not all sugars are created equal. Different sweeteners vary drastically in nutrition and the impact they have on your body and brain.
How do you measure a good sweetener?
- Taste: sweet and sticky, like plump golden raisin or fig with notes of caramel and vanilla. Incredible.
- Glycemic Index: this measures how quickly carbs are digested and metabolized, aka converted into sugar (glucose) in your blood. Higher GI carbs (like table sugar) quickly elevate your blood glucose, while lower GI carbs (dates) produces a slower, sustained increase. Fast spikes cause hunger pangs, cravings, crashes, and intense fluctuations that tax the pancreas, making it hard to produce insulin and control blood sugar. Ultimately, this kind of ‘insulin resistance’, or when the pancreas can’t produce enough for stability, may lead to diabetes and other conditions. The GI of dates is 47, whereas table sugar is 68-70 and honey is 62.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins like potassium and magnesium maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, keep you hydrated, and are required for cell function. Dates have 3-4 times the potassium of maple syrup and 14-15 times that of honey. Dates similarly win in magnesium, and, by the way, cane sugar, agave, and artificial sweeteners and replacements like monk fruit and stevia have 0 on both fronts,
- Antioxidants: 10 times higher than maple syrup and 45 times higher than honey, dates’ antioxidant content is worth boasting about. Antioxidants counteract free radicals - the unstable molecules that react with other compounds in the body and that in excess, can destroy healthy cells and tissue and cause oxidative stress and chronic illnesses. A diet rich in antioxidants is critical as our ability to produce them declines with age. Antioxidants are measured by the ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value, where dates are at 5900, vs maple syrup’s 590 and honey’s 130.
- Kitchen compatibility: Dates aren’t purely sweet. They work fabulously as a sweetener in coffee and tea, baking, cocktails, salads, breakfast bowls, marinades and more. They’re loaded with complex yet mellow flavor that add brightness and character, which is evident in Good Mylk’s date sweetened non-dairy milks and Seven Sunday’s date-sweetened cereals and muesli mixes. We love combining both for a hearty, nutrient dense breakfast, finished with some berries and a generous drizzle of Just Date Syrup.
And if you’re wondering “but what about stevia? And monk fruit? Erythritol?” Nope. Not only are these high intensity sweeteners void of any nutrients, they also fuel the sugar addiction cycle, can deceive the brain and cause insulin resistance, and are often processed with chemicals or produced in a far from transparent manner. You can read more here.
Long story short, dates are just about the perfect sweetener.