In the past few years dates have become a store cupboard staple. As a sweetener for reduced sugar recipes, snack with benefits as a well as feeling like a treat, we are buying more of the dried fruits than ever. But just when you thought dates couldn’t get any better along come red dates which look set to be a new superfood.
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Red Dates, also known as Jujube Fruit, are a berry from the Far East enjoyed for health and well-being for thousands of years. “They are called “red dates” because of their “datey” aroma, similar to the Middle-Eastern brown dates,’ explains Helen Wang, founder of Abakus Foods “However, red dates are not grown on the palm tree but rather a “normal tree” or a shrub. The jujube tree is very water-efficient and can even survive periods of draught. Because of this, they are planted in arid areas to help fight against desertification. The plant is very sustainable and a real gift of nature.” Like dates they have a natural caramel flavour and are packed with nutrients.
Red dates could be said to be healthier than brown dates in that they contain only half amount of sugar and calories of brown dates. While a portion of three brown dates contain 54 calories and 12g of sugar on average, three red dates contain only 28 calories and 6g of sugar. With 13mg of vitamin C compared to 0.4mg in brown dates, red dates contain 32 times as much vitamin C. In fact jujube fruit has twenty times more vitamin C than citrus fruits. Also, while red dates contain 79mg calcium and 0.9g fibre, brown dates contain only 39mg calcium and 0.7g fibre.
“Red Dates contain 18 out of 24 essential amino acids which are a foundation of protein building in the body – perfect as a post-workout snack,” says Helen. “They are known as an adaptogen, which helps the body adapt to stress, both mentally and physically, and thereby reduce sensitivity to stress and anxiety, calm the mind and improve sleep.”
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If you mainly use dates in your baking and for homemade cereals don’t worry – you can still use red dates in their place. “Similar to brown dates, you can eat red dates as a snack or use them as a sweet ingredient in baking, cooking, desserts and energy balls,” confirms Helen. “Red dates also work really well as a topping on porridge or granola. In Korea and China, people add the red dates into their green tea or just infuse them in hot water to make a lovely caramel-flavoured tea. To do this, simply put a few berries in boiling water and wait for 5 minutes.” Delicious!