Sweeter than sweet: Use fiber-rich Medjool dates as a natural sugar substitute
02/20/2021 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Sweeter than sweet: Use fiber-rich Medjool dates as a natural sugar substitute

It can be hard to say no to sugary treats if you have a sweet tooth. But if you’re watching your sugar intake, you can replace sweeteners with a natural alternative like Medjool dates.

Now you can have your cake and eat it too, without the guilt!

What are Medjool dates?

Dates are tropical stone fruits, with a single pit surrounded by edible flesh. Medjool dates are naturally sweet, with a more caramel-like taste compared to other common types like Deglet Noor.

Medjool dates are often sold dried and their sugars become more concentrated as they dry. This makes them even sweeter!


In addition, Medjool dates contain lots of nutrients. A 48-gram serving (two dates) contains 133 calories, 36 grams of carbs, 3.2 grams of dietary fiber, 0.8 grams of protein, 32 grams of sugar and zero fat.

The same serving also contains vitamins and nutrients such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6.

The health benefits of Medjool dates

Consuming Medjool dates moderately offers certain benefits.

Medjool dates are full of antioxidants

Medjool dates contain antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage that are linked to diseases like brain ailments, cancer and heart disease. Medjool dates are also a natural source of flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids with anti-inflammatory, anticancer and brain-protective properties.

Research suggests that among different kinds of dried fruit, dates had the highest antioxidant content compared to figs and prunes.

Medjool dates can help boost heart health

Medjool dates contain dietary fiber that helps lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and keeps your arteries clean, which helps lower heart disease risk.

The results of a test-tube study have shown that Medjool and other date varieties “lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevented the buildup of plaque in arteries.” Plaque accumulation may block blood flow, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Medjool dates are chock-full of beneficial antioxidants that can protect you from free radical damage. The carotenoid and phenolic acid antioxidants in dates have also been studied for their potential beneficial effects on heart health.

Medjool dates promote digestive health

Dietary fiber helps promote healthy digestion and bowel regularity. Consuming enough fiber regularly helps form stool and prevents digestive issues like constipation.

A fiber-rich diet can also help reduce your risk of digestive diseases like colorectal cancer.

In a 3-week study, researchers observed 21 volunteers who consumed seven dates (168 grams) per day. Findings showed that eating dates helps improve the volunteers’ bowel movement frequency, unlike when they didn’t eat dates.

Incorporating Medjool dates into a balanced diet

Medjool dates are available year-round at grocery stores. Some Medjool dates are pitted. If you buy dates with pits, remove them before eating by slicing the date open lengthwise and pulling out the pit.

They are naturally sweet because of fructose, a natural sugar. Substitute Medjool dates for sugar by making a date paste!

Blend two cups (480 grams) of pitted dates with 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) of water. Use this paste instead of sugar in your recipes at a 1:1 ratio.

Medjool dates are a versatile sugar substitute. Use them when making smoothies and sauces and dressings. Dates can also be used for no-bake desserts like pie crusts, energy ball, or fruit-and-chocolate bars.

For a more savory treat, try filling raw Medjool dates with cheese, nuts, or cooked grains like rice.

Store Medjool dates in a cool, dry place like a pantry or the refrigerator. Keep them in a sealed container so they retain their moisture.

Yummy Medjool date recipes

Try these recipes made with Medjool dates.

Dates and blueberry lime cheesecake

This recipe makes a tangy and creamy no-bake cheesecake that’s also healthy!

Ingredients for 12 servings:


  • 1 cup of Medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup of walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground vanilla beans or extract
  • A pinch of Himalayan pink salt
  • Water for blending

Cheesecake layer:

  • 2 1/4 cup of raw cashews, soaked
  • 1 cup of blueberries, with extra for garnish
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of lime zest, with extra for garnish


To make the crust:

  1. Pulse the ingredients in a food processor until you have a sticky crumble.
  2. Add a bit of water at the end if the crust doesn’t stick and press the crust into a parchment-lined 7-inch springform pan.

To make the lime cheesecake layer:

  1. The night before you make the cheesecake, soak the cashews in a bowl of water. When you’re ready to bake, drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. Place the cashews in a food processor and blend for several minutes until smooth. Scrape down the cashews from the sides and add lime juice, 1/4 cup of the dates, lime zest and vanilla then blend again.
  3. Stream in the melted coconut oil and blend until well combined. Taste and add more dates if needed.
  4. Spread enough of the cheesecake filling to cover the crust and about 1/2 to 1 inch of the white layer. Leave the cheesecake in the freezer for 30 minutes so it can firm up.

To make the blueberry cheesecake layer:

  1. Add one cup of blueberries to the remaining cheesecake in the food processor, then blend until smooth. If the blueberries are tart, add more dates.
  2. Spread the blueberry layer on top of the lime layer. Decorate with fresh blueberries and lime zest.
  3. Cover the cheesecake with foil and leave it in the freezer for at least three hours to firm up. Transfer to the fridge for a couple more hours.

3-Ingredient date and matcha truffles

You can make this simple dessert in 10 minutes!

Ingredients for 12 servings:

  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • Matcha powder for rolling


  1. Process the dates in a food processor until you have a sticky paste.
  2. Add the almond butter to the Medjool date paste, then process until combined. The mixture needs to be very sticky.
  3. Scoop the “caramel” into a bowl and freeze. Leave it uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Shape the caramel into small balls, then roll them in the matcha powder.
  5. Let the date and matcha balls chill in the freezer.

Vegan and gluten-free choco-chip almond butter bars

These gooey butter bars are naturally sweetened.

Ingredients for 12 servings:

  • 3/4 cup of almond butter
  • 1/2 cup of dates, soaked
  • 1/3–1/2 cup of chocolate chips, with extra for topping
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce
  • 1/2 cup of oat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8-inch x 8-inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, soak the dates in hot water. Let the dates soak for 10 minutes, then drain dates.
  3. Use a food processor or blender to process the add dates, almond butter and applesauce. Process until well combined and stop to scrape down the sides. Slowly add the milk to the mixture and continue to process.
  4. Add the oat flour, baking soda, vanilla and salt to the mixture in step three. Process until completely mixed.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips until all ingredients are combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan, then sprinkle the extra chocolate chips.
  7. Bake the dough for 25 to 27 minutes.
  8. Let the choco-chip almond butter bars cool in the pan for 15 minutes before serving.

Replace artificial sweeteners with Medjool dates, a nutrient-rich sugar substitute.






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