If you have never heard of dates, they are a type of fruit that comes from the date palm tree, and are generally sold in their dried form. They are incredibly sweet and taste like nature’s caramel! If you have a sweet tooth, they will definitely satisfy your sweet cravings. There are many different varieties of dates, such as medjool, deglet noor, and barhi, but my favorites are the medjool date and halawi date. My favorite brand for dates is definitely Bautista Family Organic Ranch (https://bautistaorganicdates.com), which you can order online or get from various farmer’s markets throughout California. Though some people are turned off by the high levels of sugar in dates, dates offer so many health benefits and should not be feared. The sugar in dates is accompanied by fiber, so dates actually have a low glycemic index which means that the sugar is released slowly and does not spike your blood sugar. Fiber can also help reduce constipation by promoting regular bowel movements and adding bulk to stool. In one study, 21 people who consumed 7 dates a day for 21 dates had improved stool frequency and an increase in bowel movements. Dates are also very high in antioxidants that fight oxidative damage from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage cells and lead to disease and aging. In addition, dates are a great source of energy, potassium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and Vitamin B6. Some research has also found dates to promote brain health, bone health, blood sugar regulation, and natural labor during pregnancy. You can use dates as a natural sweetener in foods like smoothies, oatmeal, or baked goods, blend them with a little water to form a date caramel sauce, or eat them on their own as a snack, dessert, or even a meal as I sometimes do.