So you’re at the store looking at the dates, but unsure of which variety to purchase. You may be wondering, what is the best choice between Deglet Noor dates vs Medjool dates? This article goes over the different varieties of dates and how to choose which one is best.
What are dates
Dates are a dried fruit cultivated from the date palm tree. They are dark brown and oval in shape, with a wrinkled surface similar to a raisin.
They have a soft but chewy texture and a caramel-like flavor that tastes great in a variety of desserts. They are also very sweet and have a slightly sticky outer coating.
There are a variety of dates that all vary slightly in color, shape and texture. The most common dates you will see are Deglet Noor dates and Medjool dates, but these aren’t the only varieties.
Here is a list of a few date varieties:
- Deglet Noor Dates
- Medjool Dates
- Halawi Dates
- Zahidi Dates
- Mazafati Dates
- Ajwa Dates
- Honey Dates
- Piarom Dates
Most likely you will only be able to find Deglet Noor and Medjool dates at your local grocery stores in the United States. If you are looking for another variety, try an international grocery store.
The date palm likely originated in what is now known as Iraq, but dates have been consumed in North Africa and the Middle East for centuries. Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits.
In modern times, date palm trees are grown all over the world, even in the United States. They grow in a warm climate and you can find them in Southern California, especially Coachella Valley.
Deglet Noor vs Medjool Dates
Deglet Noor dates and Medjool dates have a few differences that make them unique. These differences include appearance, taste and texture, nutrition, popularity, cost and applications in recipes.
Medjool dates have a large size compared to Deglet Noor dates. If you place them side by side you can see this difference. Deglet Noor dates are skinnier and Medjool dates are rounder.
They also differ in color. Medjool dates are darker, closer to the color black, compared to Deglet Noor dates which are a lighter brown tint.
While they both have a wrinkled surface, Medjool dates have deeper crevices compared to Deglet Noor dates.
Taste and texture
Deglet noor dates are soft dates and less chewy than Medjool dates. They have a softer outer layer and are easier to bite into. They tear apart easily and almost feel like a thick caramel in your mouth.
Medjool dates, on the other hand, have a thicker outer skin and are chewier and harder. That being said, they are also slightly sweeter than Deglet Noor dates. They also have a higher sugar concentration.
Since Medjool dates are much larger than Deglet Noor dates, we will compare their nutritional value by ounce instead of per date.
100 grams of Medjool dates (about half a cup) contains 277 calories, 2 grams of protein and 75 grams of carbohydrates. It contains about 7 grams of fiber and is a good source of vitamin B3, B5 and B6, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
100 grams of Deglet Noor dates contains 282 calories, 3 grams of protein and 75 grams of carbohydrates. It contains about 8 grams of fiber and is a good source of vitamin B5 and B6, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
Overall, the nutritional content of each variety of dates is fairly similar. I wouldn’t say one kind of date is “healthier” than the other.
This of course depends on where in the world you live, but the most popular dates are probably Medjool dates, though Deglet Noor dates are pretty commonly sold in the United States.
If you are interested, I recommend looking up what kind of dates are grown closest to you geographically. Buying dates locally is better for the environment and often cheaper.
The price of dates will vary depending on where you live, where you purchase your dates and what brand you purchase.
If you are looking for the lowest cost option, Deglet Noor dates will likely be your best option. Medjool dates are typically more expensive, sometimes double the price of Deglet Noor dates.
This is one of the main differences between the two dates. If you are on a budget, I recommend using Deglet Noor dates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dates healthy?
Yes, dates are considered a healthy and nutritious food due to their nutritional content and various health benefits. Their largest benefit is their high fiber content.
Dates are a good source of fiber, as well as B vitamins, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are good for heart health and energy production.
There is also a belief that dates can help induce labor in late pregnancy. In one randomized control trial of 154 women, they found that dates reduced need for inducing labor and positively affected labor outcome and delivery.
Overall, consuming dates seems to have positive health outcomes. That being said, dates are calorie dense, so try to be mindful about your consumption.
Are dates safe for diabetics?
Yes, dates are safe to consume, even if you have insulin sensitivity or are a diabetic. That being said, they are high in carbohydrates so be sure to consume mindfully.
Since dates are high in fiber, they have a low glycemic index compared to lower fiber fruits and other carbohydrate rich foods.
So while they are high in sugar, they don’t spike your blood sugar levels since the fiber causes them to digest slowly.
That being said, if you aren’t diabetic or you don’t have insulin sensitivity don’t work too much about blood sugar. Your body naturally produces enough insulin to avoid large spikes.
Are dates good for heart health?
Yes, dates are a great food for your heart health. They are high in fiber, magnesium and potassium, all of which are important in maintaining good heart health.
To reduce overall risk of heart disease, your diet pattern is what matters. Eat a diet rich in fruits (like dates), vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy products.
Be sure to limit nutrients like saturated fats and added sugars. The sugar in dates is not added since they naturally occur in dates. That being said, date syrup is considered an added sugar since the fiber and many nutrients are removed.
Are dates high in sugar?
Yes, dates are high in sugar, but these are natural sugars that are already present in the date, not added. This means they are not considered “added sugars” and don’t pose any health risks (unless consumed in excess).
One Medjool date contains about 16 grams of sugar while one Deglet Noor date contains about 5 grams of sugar. This discrepancy is due to the size of the date as well as Medjool dates being sweeter in general.
Overall, the sugar in dates is not something to be concerned about if you stick to a modest serving size. Dates may be high in sugar, but they are also high in fiber and other beneficial nutrients like magnesium and potassium.
Are dates high in fiber?
Yes, dates have a high fiber content which makes them a great food for maintaining healthy digestion. In fact, dates are sometimes recommended to help aid constipation.
100 grams of dates or about a ½ cup contain around 7-8 grams of fiber, making them an excellent source of fiber.
You should aim for about 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories you consume. Make sure you are getting your fiber from various sources like fruits, vegetables, legume, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Can pregnant women eat dates?
Yes, pregnant women can eat dates. As mentioned earlier, there is a belief that dates induce labor, but there is no strong evidence to support this. That being said, there is evidence to support that they can help improve labor outcomes.
Dates can be a great way to up your fiber intake during pregnancy and could potentially aid digestion if you are struggling with constipation.
Be sure to speak to your doctor and/or dietitian before adding new foods to your diet during pregnancy to ensure you are doing it in the safest way possible.
How should you store dates?
Dates should be stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry place, such as your cupboard or pantry. If exposed to the air, they could spoil faster than normal or become stale.
They should last about 6 months at room temperature or refrigerated. You can also freeze your dates if you want to expand their shelf life. Frozen dates should last about one year.
In fact, frozen dates are great to have on hand since they make for a great snack and work great in smoothies to add a sweet and caramel-y flavor.
Other date products
Dates can be consumed as a snack or used in recipes, but they are used as a natural sweetener in products like date paste and date syrup.
Date paste is basically pureed dates and can be used like applesauce to sweeten a variety of dishes.
Date syrup is used more as a sweetener like honey. It doesn’t contain the pulp of the dates, just the “sugar” component of the fruit.
Both products work great as natural sweeteners and add a really nice caramel-y flavor.