Are Dates Keto?

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Written by Rahul Malpe, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Jennifer Olejarz

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Dates are one of the sweetest fruits out there. They contain micronutrients and fiber, but there is no doubt that they contain a great deal of sugar, so you may wonder whether they can be included in a keto diet or not. 

In this article, we'll give you an overview of this fruit from a keto perspective. You'll get to know more about its origins, its nutritional compositions, how much of it you can eat on a low-carb diet, and much more. 


What are dates?

Originally from Africa and the Middle East, date palm fruits are called dates. The date palm can grow up about 75 feet (23 meters) tall, and its fruits are typically yellow, red, or brown when ripe. They have been a staple food in the region for centuries, and they are an important part of many traditional dishes. 

Date palms are also grown commercially for their sweet, edible fruits. In addition to being eaten fresh, they can be dried, processed into syrup, or used as a flour substitute. Although they are often associated with deserts, they actually require a moderate amount of water to grow well. For this reason, they are typically grown in oases or irrigated areas.


Dates nutrition facts

1 piece of this fruit contains the following nutrients:

  • Serving size: 8 g (1 piece ) 
  • Calories: 23 kcal
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Net carbohydrates: 5.4 g
  • Total carbs: 6 g
  • Fiber: 0.6 g
  • Protein: 0.2 g

This food is a good source of many minerals, including iron, potassium, and magnesium. It also contains many essential vitamins, such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and folate. 

The fruits can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or even cooked. Their high sugar content might be incompatible with keto; however, they make a good snack option for people looking for a quick energy boost before a workout. 

To choose the best ones, look for those that are plump and soft. Avoid those that are shriveled or have brown spots. 




Can you have dates on a keto diet?

Typically they do not qualify as keto-friendly foods since a single dried date contains 5.4 g of net carbohydrates. If your daily carb allowance is 20 g a day, then simply by consuming two dried dates, you will consume over half of your daily allowance of carbs.

Keto dieters typically eat between 20 - 50 g of net carbohydrates per day. This is why including high carbs foods can get tricky. When you eat foods high in sugar, your bloodstream is flooded with energy fast. The insulin levels are raised, which, in turn, slows your ketone production and that isn't ideal when the goal is to reach or maintain ketosis.

Hence, they do not really fit into the ketogenic diet. It's better to avoid them. 

However, if your daily carb allowance is 50 g or more per day, then you might be able to incorporate 1 - 2 dates without risking your ketosis.


How many dates can you have on the keto diet?

This depends on your individual macros. For example, if your daily carb intake on keto is 20 g, you should probably avoid them altogether as just one small piece can give you more than 5 grams of net carbohydrates. However, when you have more wiggle room with your carbs, say 50 g a day, then you might get by eating one or two every once in a while. 


What kind of dates can you have on keto?

There are many different types of dates, but they are not generally considered suitable for a ketogenic diet.

Zahidi - These are small and oval-shaped, with dark brown or blackish skin. They are relatively dry and have a chewy texture. They are often used in baking and can be found in many Middle Eastern recipes.

Sayer - These are another type of date fruit. They are large and round, with a golden-brown to reddish-brown skin. They are very sweet and have a soft, fleshy texture. They are often used as a snack or in desserts.

Deglet Noor - This is a type of date fruit that is long and slender, with light brown skin. Deglet Noor is semi-dry and has a chewy texture. They are often used in cooking, especially in Middle Eastern dishes.



What can you have dates with?

When you think of this dry fruit, you might not immediately think of them as keto-friendly food. However, with proper planning, they’re a great way to add sweetness and flavor to your diet without using artificial sweeteners.

So, what can you eat them with on a keto diet? There are plenty of options! For starters, you can pair them with cheese or nuts for a quick and easy snack.

You can also chop them up and add them to yogurt for a touch of sweetness. They can be enjoyed in multiple ways depending on your taste and preferences.

Keto-friendly alternatives to dates

While they are a delicious and nutritious snack, dates are not keto-friendly. 

In general, dried fruit is not going to be a good choice for keto. To give you an idea, dried figs have 4.5 net carbs per piece, 1 prune has 5.4 g net carbs, and even a single dried apricot half has 1.9 g net carbs. 

So, for those on a ketogenic diet, date alternatives will be fresh fruits.

  • Cherries are lower in carbs than dates, but you can only have a small amount. ½ cup (with pit) gives you 9.6 g net carbs.
  • Strawberries are a better option; ½ cup (whole) gives you 4.1 net carbs.
  • Raspberries are even lower in net carbs thanks to their high fiber content; ½ cup gives you 3.3 g.



Are there any other questions you have regarding this sweet dry fruit? Let's explore some of the most common questions about this food.

They are a type of fruit that grows on date palms. They have been part of the human diet for thousands of years and are a staple food in many cultures. There are many different types of them, with the most popular being the Medjool date.

They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They contain vitamins A, B, and C, as well as potassium, magnesium, and iron. They are also high in antioxidants.

In the West, dates are usually sold already dried. Check the skin: if it’s wrinkled, it has been dried; if it’s smooth, it’s fresh! 

It is important to look for ones that are ripe but not overripe. The skin should be intact and there should be no bruising. The fruit should also be free of mold. If the fruit is too ripe, it will be mushy and may have fermentation begin to occur. Overripe fruit is also more likely to attract pests. 

They are packed with natural sugars. Because they are usually eaten dried, this means that the water has been removed and therefore the sugars are more concentrated in a smaller area. This makes the fruit high in sugar as well as calories.

Dates themselves are fruits! They grow on the date palm tree. The scientific name for the date palm is Phoenix dactylifera, and it is believed to have originated in the Middle East or North Africa. 

The date palm produces fruits known as dates, which can be yellow, orange, red, or brown when they are ripe. The taste of a date depends on its variety, but most of them are sweet with a chewy texture. They can be eaten fresh, or they can be dried and used as ingredients in a variety of recipes.

Sun-drying is the most traditional method, and it is still commonly used in many parts of the world. To sun dry them, simply place them on a clean surface in direct sunlight. Depending on the climate and the type of fruit being dried, it can take anywhere from a few hours to several days for the fruit to completely dehydrate. 

Oven drying is a quicker method than sun drying, but it requires careful monitoring to prevent the fruit from overcooking. To oven-dry them, place them on a wire rack in a preheated oven set to the lowest possible temperature. Check the fruit regularly, and once it has reached the desired level of dryness, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely. 

Store them in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge, or even in the freezer.

 Be sure to check on them occasionally to make sure they're not drying out or getting too soft. And if you notice any mold starting to form, be sure to discard the affected dates immediately. With proper storage, they can last for several months.