Dates were mentioned several times in the Bible and are probably ancestors to the oldest-known seed planted successfully in modern times.
Date palms were brought to America’s Western coast by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s. Medjool dates, which originated in Morocco, were introduced in the U.S. in 1927. Medjools are not only one of the most prominent varieties – they are the only one that can be picked and eaten fresh.
Date palms begin to bear fruit at three to five years, and are fully mature at 12 years. Cultivated in arid regions of the world, wild populations can still be found around Jordan and the border between Iran and Iraq.
Dates are oval-cylindrical, 3–7 cm long, and 2–3 cm in diameter, and when ripe, range from bright red to bright yellow in color, depending on variety.
Dates are a good source of various vitamins and minerals. It’s a good source of energy, sugar and fiber. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc are found in dates. It also contains vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
Dates are one of the very best sweet and versatile foods that can regulate the digestive process. It can significantly boost energy levels in people within half an hour of consuming it. The American Cancer Society recommends an intake of 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day, which can be supplied through dates. It is also said that taking one date per a day will help you to maintain your eye health all your life. They are commonly known to be quite effective in guarding against the problem of night blindness.
Here are some of the benefits of dates:
Abdominal Cancer: Research has pointed towards dates being a legitimate way to reduce the risk and impact of abdominal cancer. They work as a useful tonic for all age groups, and in some cases, they work better than traditional medicines, and are natural, so they don’t have any negative side effects on the human body. They can be quickly and easily digested for a quick boost of energy.
Allergies: One of the most interesting facets of dates is the presence of organic sulfur in them. This is not a very common element to find in foods, but it does have a worthwhile amount of health benefits, including the reduction of allergic reactions and seasonal allergies. According to a study done in 2002, organic sulfur compounds can have a positive impact on the amount of suffering people experience from SAR (Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis), which affects approximately 23 million people in the United States alone. Dates are a great way to somewhat stem the effects of those seasonal allergies through its contributions of sulfur to the diet.
Anemia: Dates have a high mineral content, which is beneficial for many different health conditions, but their impressive levels of iron make them a perfect dietary supplement for people suffering from anemia. The high level of iron balances out the inherent lack of iron in anemic patients, increasing energy and strength, while decreasing feelings of fatigue and sluggishness.
Bone Health and Strength: The significant amounts of minerals found in dates make it a super food for strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating diseases like osteoporosis. Dates contain selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, all of which are integral to healthy bone development and strength, particularly as people begin to age and their bones gradually weaken. So, eat your dates and give a boost to your bones!
Constipation: Dates are often categorized as a laxative food. This is why dates are so frequently eaten by people suffering from constipation. In order to achieve the desired laxative effect of dates, you should soak them in water over night. Then, eat the soaked dates in the morning like syrup to get the most optimal results. Dates have high levels of soluble fiber, which is essential in promoting healthy bowel movements and the comfortable passage of food through the intestinal tract, which can relieve symptoms of constipation.
Diarrhea: Ripe dates contain potassium, which is known as an effective way of controlling diarrhea. They are also easy to digest, which further helps alleviate the unpredictable nature of chronic diarrhea. The soluble fiber in dates can also help relieve diarrhea, by providing bulk to the bowel movements and promoting normal, healthy functioning of the excretory system.
Energy Booster: Dates are high in natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Therefore, they are the perfect snack for an immediate burst of energy. Many people around the world use dates for a quick afternoon snack when they are feeling lethargic or sluggish.
Healthy Heart: Dates are quite helpful in keeping your heart healthy. When they are soaked for the night, crushed in the morning and then consumed, they have been shown to have a positive effect on weak hearts. Dates are also a rich source of potassium, which studies have shown to reduce the risk of stroke and other heart related diseases. Furthermore, they are suggested as a healthy and delicious way to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, which is a major contributing factor heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke. Therefore, when taken twice a week, dates can seriously improve the overall health of the heart.
Intestinal Disorders: The nicotine content in dates is thought to be beneficial for curing many kinds of intestinal disorders. Continuous intake of dates helps to inhibit growth of the pathological organisms and thus, they help stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines. In terms of digestive issues, dates contain those insoluble and soluble fibers, as well as many beneficial amino acids which can stimulate the digestion of food and make it more efficient, meaning that more nutrients will be absorbed by the digestive tract and enter your body for proper usage.
Nervous System Health: The vitamins present in dates make it an ideal boost to nervous system health and functionality. Potassium is one of the prime ingredients in promoting a healthy and responsive nervous system, and it also improves the speed and alertness of brain activity. Therefore, dates are a wonderful food source for people as they begin to age and their nervous system becomes sluggish or unsupported, as well as for people who want to keep their mind sharp.
Night Blindness: The benefits of dates are extensive, and are commonly employed to fight off various conditions affecting the ear, nose, and throat. When the leaves of the date palm are ground into a paste and rubbed on and around the eyes, or when dates are ingested orally, it has been shown to reduce the frequency of night blindness, and this solution is commonly used in rural areas where dates grow as an alternative medicine.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Dates are readily available in groceries year around. Some varieties of fresh, soft, good-quality fruits, however, are found from September through December.
In the stores, one may come across soft, semi-dry, and dried types put for sale. At home, store them at room temperature in cool place inside an air-seal container where they stay well for several months.
PREPARATION AND SERVING METHOD
Although dates carry tremendous nutritional values, great care should be taken in their selection because their surface is very sticky, which often attracts various impurities. Therefore, you should only consume dates that are processed and packaged properly. Also, make sure to wash them thoroughly before you eat them, as this will help remove the impurities present on the surface.
Here are some serving tips:
- Dry and soft dates are usually eaten raw.
- They can be stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, candied orange and cream cheese.
- Dates can be chopped and used with fruit salad and in a range of sweet and savory dishes.
- Your family will love this delicious date nut bread.
- Smoothies made with dates tasted fantastic.
- Pie crust made with dates and nuts are delicious and healthy.
Dates are a wonderful snack all by themselves. But make sure you eat them in moderation, as fruits can contain high levels of fructose that can harm your health.