Simply put, across history all over the world, dates are and have been the natural sweetener of choice. If you’re thinking about joining the club, here are three major reasons why switching your jar of honey for a bottle of date syrup is a great idea.
Switch to date syrup because dates are packed with nutrients.
Dates are nutrition-packed fruits borne of the date palm tree. For thousands of years, travelers relied on them for sustenance as they crossed deserts in the Fertile Crescent and across North Africa. Experts believe that date palm trees were important to the spread of people and civilization. In hot, dry, unlivable areas, date palm trees provided shelter and food. Their fruits could be dried and stored for long journeys without going bad. They’re easy to carry, nutrition-packed, and energy-rich.
Just like honey, dates are naturally rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help your body fight oxidative stress, which causes cell damage, aging, and even cancer. Recent studies have also confirmed dates are antibacterial, showing activity against bacteria like Staphyloccocus aureus and Escherichia coli. In addition, dates also contain a lot of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, a good amount of iron, potassium, and vitamin B-6.
It’s not hard to imagine why they’ve become a lasting fixture of so many cuisines across history. Dates are the OG power snack: energizing, delectable, and healthy.
Dates have a low glycemic index.
When people switch to date syrup, one of the things they ask is how the sweetener affects blood sugar. Dates have a relatively low glycemic index, usually between 44 and 53, based on the kind of date variety that’s been used. In comparison, honey’s glycemic index comes in at 61. Dates when eaten in moderation are unlikely to raise people’s blood sugar, even if they have diabetes.
Dates’ low glycemic index works in favor of dates not just as an alternative sweetener in syrup, but also as an alternative sweet snack in fruit form.
Dates are also more sustainable than alternative sweeteners like agave and honey
Another thing to consider with switching to date syrup is sustainability and environmental impact.
In comparison to dates, commercial honey puts a lot of pressure on the bee ecosystem. The decline in bee population has been linked to poor agricultural practices. Bees are dying from lack of nutrition because ultimately they’re forced to rely on pollinating single crops, on top of giving up the honey that’s fundamental to hive health.
Just like commercial bee farms, agave cultivation is also impacted by high demand. Pressure from tequila manufacturers and sweetener companies forces farmers to harvest immature agave plants. Which, in turn, disrupt the life cycle of the desert bats, who are responsible for pollinating agave plants.
That isn’t to say that date agriculture doesn’t have its own issues. For a plant that helps fight desertification, date palm trees demand a lot of water and irrigation to thrive. But because the commercial product does not rely on pollinators like bees and bats and demand isn’t split between two major products, date syrup is relatively more sustainable.
Three ways that you can switch to date syrup in your daily diet
It’s not easy to toss your old sweeteners and switch to date syrup, especially if they’re part of recipes you’ve held dear for so long. The great thing about switching date syrup is that it has a unique flavor to its sweetness, which makes it exciting to use to mix things up in the kitchen. At the same time, it’s not overwhelming, which makes it versatile and easy to work into different dishes. Here are few ideas to get you started.
If you enjoy your morning oats and a protein shake, skip the honey, hold the maple and try a drizzle of date syrup instead. The date syrup adds a little bit more fiber to your diet, along with a caramel-like flavor that mixes well with other ingredients like bananas, almonds, pistachio, and granola. If you feel like making something on the go like a pressed granola nut bar, date syrup makes a great choice for making everything stick together.
Switch out the honey or maple syrup in your salads with date syrup. Dates make a great alternative because they don’t just functionally sweeten the dish. Because dates have that rich dark flavor, it definitely adds a unique note to an otherwise simple Waldorf or Mexican Chopped Salad.
The easiest way to sneak date syrup into your life is through beverages! Instead of making iced caramel lattes or cafe mocha, switch to date syrup to sweeten up your morning caffeine. What about your nightcap? Instead of agave syrup in your margarita or pomegranate tequila, try date syrup. Its luscious caramel flavor enhances the tartiness, leaving you with a taste that’s a little more elevated and filling.