Dates – Facts and Nutrition

Dates - Ingredient

Would you like a date? Incredibly sweet, I am not talking about going on a date here, but about the fruit date, which is widely popular in the Middle East. You can actually trace its origin to a region between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Known to be sweet, the fruit also contains a high amount of sugar, when dried. The largest producers of dates are the Middle East and North Africa.

Dates – Origin and History

Dating its origin back at the least some 50 million years, the fruit is a staple food in the Middle East as well as the Indus Valley Region. There is also some archaeological evidence that proves that dates were available in areas now known as Iraq. In Ancient Rome, the date palm or is normally used in triumphal processions, indicating victory.

Dates – Cultivation

Dates are a traditional crop of Iran, Iraq, Arabia, and North Africa so on. It is also found that the date trees take about 4-8 years to bear fruits. In addition, a date palm once it matures will produce about 70-140kg dates per harvest season. If a fruit has to be of marketable quality, you will have to thin the bunches of dates, and then bag and cover them before they ripen, so that the left fruits can grow longer. This also helps to protect the fruits from the weather as well as the animals or birds that live off it.  Farmers, often harvest the fruits during the fall and early winter.

Dates – Uses

People eat soft dates after it is dried, or some also have it pitted and then stuffed with nuts like almonds, walnuts or cashew and more. People use it for baking and cooking, as well. You can also glaze it with syrup of sugar and have as a snack. Date cakes or date walnut loaf, date puddings, there are many more desserts and sweets that are made out of it. During Ramadan season, Muslims also use it to break their fast during the evening meal. You can use it as salads, in stews and even smoothies.

 You can also dehydrate and grind dates to mix it with grain to make some stock feed that is nutritious. It is said that in Pakistan a thick syrup of the ripe dates is also used as a coating for the leather pipes and bags, as prevention for leaking.

Dates and Nutrients

Now, that you know of the various uses of dates check out its benefits as well. Full of nutrients, the fruit contains dietary potassium, fibre and protein.  At the same time, the sugar content in it is also about 80%, which could be an issue for diabetic patients. Therefore, diabetic people should be more mindful while having it. However, having them in moderation may not be too harmful. Know here also the glycaemic index for three various types of dates: 35.5 for Khalas, 49.7 for Barhi and 30.5 for bo ma’an. It definitely will be a better alternative to empty calorie sweets. Highly fibrous in nature, the fruit also apparently provides one with about 12% of their daily fibre requirement. The date is also full of nutrients containing magnesium and iron. It is full of polyphenols, known to be a type of anti-oxidants, as well.

Benefits of Dates

At the same time, check out here some of the benefits of eating dates regularly:

1.    It helps to lower the cholesterol level: Dates normally contain very less fat and is free from cholesterol. It is said that including some amount of date in your daily food intake will help to balance your cholesterol and even help with the weight loss

2.    Rich in vitamins, Iron and protein: Dates contains vitamins such as B1, B2, B3 and so. It contains natural sugars, thus boosting your energy levels and is loaded with proteins. It is also a very good source of iron and is good for anaemic people.

3.    It helps to boost your bone health: The fruit contains minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium or so, which help to keep your bone healthy. Hence, it could also prevent osteoporosis.

Other added benefits are that dates help to promote digestion, as well as the Vitamin C and D in it works to keep your skin smooth.

Other Uses for Dates

Meanwhile, the seeds of this fruit are also good and are often ground and mixed with grain to use as animal fodder. Some even grind as use it as like the coffee beans. When it is super fresh and moist, the fruits are also mouth-watering and often melt in the mouth as well. Additionally, people can also use the stripped clusters of fruit as brooms. People decorate their homes using the floral stalks of dates.

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