Dating The Sugar Season
“The Sugar Season”
Yes, we are currently in the throws of what I like to call “The Sugar Season”. It begins somewhere around early to mid-October when the Halloween candy hits the store shelves, and it does not end until around January 1, when the New Year’s Resolutions are in high resolve. This is when the dental office gets a plethora of phone calls about crowns coming off. (“I was only eating a “Bit-O-Honey”. Have to appreciate the honesty!) It’s also when the phone calls come in about fillings breaking and toothaches. It’s sugar! Ugh! Horrible addictive stuff!
We all have a sweet tooth.
Sweetness is one of the sensory responses our taste buds have to tell us the sweet food is “safe” to eat. But is it? The problem is that sweetness is placed in ALL of our processed foods, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup. With everything being sweetened (from ketchup to salad dressings to even bread), our taste buds have become acclimated to believe that sweetened is not sweet enough. So we eat our dessert after eating our sweetened meal. The result…a constant sugar assault on the teeth, the pancreas, the cardiovascular system, and every organ in the body.
When we feel the need for something sweet, why not reach for something that will satisfy that craving, as well as offer some nutritional support for the body without the sugar assault that can result in cardiovascular disease and diabetes? I’m talking about one of my favorite foods–the date.
Dates grow on the date palm tree in the Middle East, and in the United States in California, Arizona, and Texas. Dates do contain sugar in the form of glucose or fructose, which is why they taste so sweet. However, along with that sweetness comes a punch of nutrition that sugar alone cannot provide. Dates have 8 grams of fiber in every 3 ½ ounces. Dates are full of B vitamins: Vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamine, and pantothenic acid. Dates contain the minerals copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Dates also contain the trace minerals zinc and selenium. For each ounce, dates provide 64% more potassium than bananas (Murray, 2005).
Although dates do contain glucose or fructose, with the soluble fiber dates also contain, the body’s absorption of that glucose is delayed in the small intestine. This helps in preventing the fluctuations in blood sugar levels seen when eating sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This same soluble fiber absorbs water, and therefore adds softness to stools, easing both stool movement through the colon and elimination (Murray, 2005). In addition, dates also contain antioxidant compounds that protect against free radical damage.
With all the great nutrition packed into a single date, it’s a no-brainer to feed my sweet tooth a date rather than a sugar-laden sweet. Dates can be substituted in many recipes for the sugar. A substitution that will surprise the biggest skeptic is to use dates in place of caramel. They are amazing with apples! And when a sweet craving strikes, nothing is better than a date dipped in almond butter.
Save your teeth, Save your pancreas. Save your cardiovascular system. Break up with sugar. Grab a date!