Most people are now familiar with the amazing benefits of dates. What people are less familiar with are the two date products popping up on stores shelves: date syrup and date sugar. How do these sweeteners stack up against other “alternative sweeteners” out there?
Dates and their products are actually one of the oldest sweeteners available today. Ancient cuneiform manuscripts from Mesopotamia mention the syrup, showing it as the primary sweetener of that time. In the Bible, the word “honey” can be translated from the Hebrew to describe a fruit honey, rather than the honey from a bee, and is commonly referred to as “date honey” in commentaries. Considering the profound quantity of date palms in that area, it is very likely this was indeed referring to honey from the date, or, date syrup. Although date syrup has been around for thousands of years in other parts of the world, the United States has just recently seen increased interest.
Vitamins, Minerals and Amino Acids
Spending several months out of the year on trees at temperatures of over 100 degrees, dates are a hearty fruit and seem to thrive best in high heat with little water coming from above. Lab reports show the rich vitamin and mineral content of dates do not seem to be altered much through the production into syrup or sugar, and in fact in terms of nutrition, score much higher than most other natural sweeteners on the market. Just one TBSP of date syrup contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, B Vitamins 1, 2, and 6, Folate, Niacin and Manganese and over 7 amino acids. Here is a brief example of some of the main vitamins present in maple syrup and honey and how they compare to Date Lady Date Syrup and Date Sugar.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, date syrup has an exceptionally high ORAC value. The ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, measures the antioxidant capacity in food which has shown to be connected to decreasing the risk of many diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Date syrup has an average ORAC value of 6500. Red wine has been praised for its ORAC value, which still comes in less than date syrup at 4600. The chart below shows how date syrup’s ORAC value compares to honey and maple syrup.
Anti-Bacterial Properties of Date Syrup
Perhaps most remarkable is the recent study showing date syrup to have antibacterial activity comparable to Manuka honey. The results revealed that date syrup inhibited the growth of a mixture of disease-causing bacteria -- including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp. and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The date syrup was effective in similar amounts to manuka honey but worked more quickly, inhibiting bacterial growth after six hours of treatment, while the manuka honey required longer.
Other Notable Facts about Date Syrup and Date Sugar:
- Both date syrup and date sugar contain less calories than honey per serving.
- Date syrup has a sweet complexity that makes a great replacement for sugar in coffee, in baking, or as a topping directly on pancakes and waffles,
- Date sugar does not dissolve well in beverages, but shines in baking applications.
- Because date sugar contains fiber, it can share the bulking action of whatever flour might be called for in a recipe. When replacing sugar 1:1 in a recipe, it is wise to start by decreasing the amount of flour in the recipe by 25%
In closing, we'll be the first to admit, not everything healthy tastes delicious. Fortunately dates, in our humble opinion, are nature's candy. Health + Taste = Dates For Win!