Boost Your Health with Dates
Healthy Living

Boost Your Health with Dates

Mehvish Hamdare profile Authored by Mehvish Hamdare on 1 Dec 2014 - 12:18.

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of the oldest fruit crops grown in the arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East and is being used as staple food in the Middle East for thousands of years.

Dates are available in fresh as well as dried form. There are many varieties of dates and of them are popular for their high quality, rich taste, and flavour which include Amir Hajj, Saidy, Khadrawy and Medjool.

Dates are nutritional powerhouses and have innumerable health benefits. If you’re looking for fibre, potassium, vitamins and minerals, look no further than dates as they are an excellent source of dietary fibre and contain considerable amounts of minerals, lipids and protein.

Preclinical studies have shown that the date fruits possess free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective, hepato-protective, nephron-protective, anticancer and immune-stimulant properties.

Here are some health benefits of dates:

Dates boost energy

Dates are great energy boosters as they contain natural sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose. They are the perfect snack for an immediate burst of energy when you are feeling lethargic or sluggish. The European Food Information Council notes that these natural sugars make fresh and dried dates a good food for boosting energy quickly. A small date fruit could be effectively referred to as an energy improving dry fruit.

Dates beat anaemia

Dates are rich sources of iron content and are very useful in treating anaemia as it helps boost the amount of iron in the blood. Anaemia patients are encouraged to consume dates on a regular basis to boost the iron content. To facilitate absorption, drinking lemon or orange juice after having dates helps.

Strengthens the nervous system

Dates are also a great source of potassium, a valuable nutrient in the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. It helps maintain muscle contraction and smooth functioning of heart muscles.

Prevents diarrhoea

Ripe dates contain high amount of potassium that is effective in preventing diarrhoea. A study published in British Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology shows that the aqueous fruit extract of Phoenix dactylifera may contain some pharmacologically active substances with anti-diarrheal properties.

Antihyperlipidemic activity

In a study, Phoenix dactylifera fruit pulp was evaluated for its effect on the lipid metabolism in high cholesterol diet induced hypercholesterolemic hamsters wherein it significantly reduced the elevated levels of plasma lipids including cholesterol, triglycerides and low density lipoprotein (LDL) in the treated animals as compared to high cholesterol-diet supplemented animals indicating its possible beneficial effects in atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) development in humans.

Relief from intoxication

Dates are referred to as an outstanding remedy to cure alcoholic intoxication as they provide quick relief. To prevent severe hangovers they should be rubbed and soaked overnight for best results.

Prevents constipation

Dates are rich in soluble fibres, and hence they are considered a natural laxative. Dates have high levels of soluble fibre, which is essential in promoting healthy bowel movements. It therefore relieves symptoms of constipation. Soaking dates overnight in water and having them along with the soaked water the next morning increases its laxative effect.

Sexual weakness

Dates are therapeutic for raising sexual stamina within your body. Soak one handful of dates overnight in goat’s milk and next morning grind the dates in the milk along with honey and cardamom powder.

Weight gain

For those looking for weight gain, a glass of milk with dates and honey blended serves as a very healthy and nutritious due to its high caloric content. The other option is to have dates along with cucumber to overcome the problem of over-slimming.

Strengthens tooth enamel

Fluorine is a vital mineral which inhibits tooth decay, in the early stages. In addition, it is also said to prevent the formation of plaque, as it fortifies the tooth enamel. Therefore, high fluorine content in dates help to slow down the process of early tooth decay.

Helps pregnant women

Dates are rich in folic acid and hence recommended for pregnant women. In addition it avoids haemorrhage soon after childbirth. Dates not only ease the delivery process but enhance breast milk production. A study from the Jordan University of Science and Technology and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,found significant effects on certain birth measures after women consumed dates for four weeks prior to delivery. It showed significantly higher mean cervical dilatation and a significantly higher proportion of intact membranes at the time of delivery.

Nutritive content

Dates (Phoenix dactylifera), medjool, nutritive value per 100 g
(Source: USDA national nutrient data base)

Principle

Nutrient Value

Percentage of RDA

Energy

277 Kcal

14%

Carbohydrates

74.97 g

58%

Protein

1.81g

3%

Total Fat

0.15 g

<1%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Dietary Fiber

6.7 g

18%

Vitamins

 

 

Folates

15 µg 

4%

Niacin

1.610 mg

10%

Pantothenic acid

0.805 mg

16%

Pyridoxine

0.249 mg

19%

Riboflavin

0.060 mg

4.5%

Thiamin

0.050 mg

4%

Vitamin A

149 IU

5%

Vitamin C

0 mg

0%

Vitamin K

2.7 µg

2%

Electrolytes

 

 

Sodium

1 mg

0%

Potassium

696 mg

16%

Minerals

 

 

Calcium

64 mg

6.5%

Copper

0.362 mg

40%

Iron

0.90 mg

11%

Magnesium

54 mg

13%

Manganese

0.296 mg

13%

Phosphorus

62 mg

9%

Zinc

0.44 mg

4%

Phyto-nutrients

 

 

Carotene-ß

89 µg

--

Crypto-xanthin-ß

0 µg

--

Lutein-zeaxanthin

23 µg

--

Different ways of consuming dates:

  • Add dates to home-baked breads, cakes, muffins, pudding, and cookies.
  • Dates can be either chopped or slivered and sprinkled over desserts, savoury dishes and salads.
  • Have dates chutney, pickleand as a side dish for pulav and parathas.
  • Add dates syrup to milk to make date milk shake, or make date ice cream or use it as a spread on breads.

Make sure to make dates a part of your everyday diet and make it a must-buy item in your grocery list.

References:

  • The Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.): Overview of Biology, Uses, and Cultivation ChihCheng T. Chao1 Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California-Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0124
  • Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity Int J ClinExp Med. 2014; 7(3): 483–491.
  • A review of the chemistry and pharmacology of the date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera L.) Food Research InternationalVolume 44, Issue 7, August 2011, Pages 1812–1822
*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.