It’s a date

 
By Emily Miller • Published: February 12th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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February is a great month for dates … and not just the dinner-and-a-movie type, either.

Dates … the fruit that is … are in season in February, and five out of five nutrition experts agree that these tasty fruits make a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

According to the initiative Fruits&Veggies — More Matters, just one-fourth of a cup of dates provides 12 percent of the daily value for fiber, eight percent of the daily potassium recommendation and six percent of the daily manganese recommendation. Minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron are plentiful in dates and work to lower blood pressure, too.

According to the California Date Commission, dates are free of trans fats, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and making dates a part of your daily diet can contribute to keeping your heart healthy. Because dates produce their sweet flavor naturally, no added sugar is required. Dates can even provide a natural alternative to added sugars.

Some might choose a date based on personality, but when it comes to these dates, it’s all about the looks. Nutrition matchmakers say shoppers should choose dates that are shiny, uniformly colored and not broken. Dates have a long shelf life and do not require refrigeration. They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for several months or in a refrigerator for up to a year.

Another bonus? Little preparation is needed to enjoy this date. A quick rinse and they’re ready to eat. If you don’t mind the prep time, you can also stuff dates with nuts, mix them into salads or eat them in a wrap. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, wrap them in bacon and serve them at your next party.

So, this Valentine’s Day look no further than the produce aisle for your perfect date.