Dates are thought to be one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits, which have been used as food for over 6000 years. They grow in sub-tropical and desert areas throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Australia and California. The date palm is often also called the ‘tree of life,’ as each part of the tree can be utilised. Deglet nour, mejool, ajwa, sayerand zahediare just five of more than 1000 typesof date fruits known.
Dates are high in fibre, contain vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin,folate, vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5and vitamin K and essential minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesiumand zinc. The natural sugar content of dates is high, coming in at approximately 66 grams per 100 gram serving of the fruit, which is often why dates are regarded as unhealthy. Contrary to popular belief though, the health benefits of dates are numerous.
Coupled with consuming a generous amount of other unprocessed plant foods and avoiding intake of refined, nutrient-deficient foods, eating dates
- promotes digestive health: The fibre in dates (8 grams per 100 gram serving, which is around 32% of your recommended daily intake) supports regular bowel movements and relieves constipation.
- helps to prevent colon cancer: Fibre works wonders when it comes to detoxification, as well as magnesium (43 milligrams per 100 gram serving, which is around 10% of your recommended daily intake), a mineral, which is quite rare in the average diet, helping the body to deal with inflammations in the gut.
- fights obesity: High fibre density in dates makes you full longer. It eases digestion and lowers the levels of cholesterol and sugar in the bloodstream. However, it’s all about the dosage – dates should not be over-consumed, due to energy density.
- can reduce the risk of stroke: Dates contain high amounts of potassium, (around 656 milligrams per 100 gram serving, which is around 18% of your recommended daily intake) another vital mineral that has been proven to reduce stroke risk and promote brain function.
- supports heart health: The magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6 in dates are essential for a healthy heart. Potassium regulates the electrical impulses that keep the heartbeat steady and counterbalances the effect of sodium in your diet by lowering blood pressure.
- can help you to control your diabetes: Researchers disagree on this point, but many cases have proven that dates are low on the glycaemic index reducing the level of sugar in the bloodstream, which means your body will not feel the need to produce insulin in excess. They can help control sugar cravings.
- is a great addition to the diet for people with iron-deficiency anaemia: Dates are a good additional source of iron, which rebuilds haemoglobin levels in the body. Every 100 grams of dates contain 1 milligram of iron, which is around 5% of your recommended daily intake.
- fights impotence: Being rich in fibre, carbohydrates, vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B5, dates increase the sexual power, improving overall male energy levels and help to cure impotence.
- eases pregnancy deliveries: Dates have a compound that mimics the hormone oxytocin (which causes contractions). Their rich nutrients can provide the expectant mother with strength and stamina. The daily consumption of a handful of dates during the ninth month of pregnancy is recommended.
The secret is out: Dates are great. As food choices are one of the biggest determinants of disease risk, adding a few dates (we recommend a maximum of 35 grams, which is equal to about 5 dates) to your daily diet can help in prevention and also improve your health, if you are suffering from conditions such as constipation. Other than that, dates just simply taste and make you feel good!
The Author: Julia Rahmani
Julia is one of the partners at FOODYOUNG and is a healthy food enthusiast. She encourages you to dig deeper and understand what it means to eat a healthy diet and live a balanced lifestyle.