Properties and Benefits of Dates: These small, cylindrical, sweet fruits boast a wide range of impressive health benefits. Dates (Phoenix dactylifera) help lower cholesterol, increase energy levels and maintain an overall good state of health. Not only do they prevent premature aging due to their high antioxidant content, but they are also said to ease labor. In addition to this, dates provide good amounts of B vitamins, copper, potassium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium, important nutrients with great positive effects on our health.
This sweet tropical delicacy is a healthy choice for any diet as a result of its impressive antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as good nutritional value. Dates are the sweet fruit of the date palm, a mighty tree native to the Middle East. The date tree was widely spread throughout Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, where its fruit were used to make date wine and palm wine or consumed fresh or dried. Both the fruit and the (female) flowers can be eaten.
Popular dishes and products include date fruit and flower salads, date juice, wine and date syrup or desserts. Depending on the variety, dates range in color from bright yellow to red and brown. Also, they may reach lengths of 6-7 cm and have an elongated, cylindrical shape. Although dry dates are by far the most popular, there are also soft and semi-dry date varieties which enjoy great popularity and are equally nutritious.
But what are the health benefits of dates? First of all, they promote normal growth and development due to their varied vitamin and mineral content. Fresh dates contain natural sugar forms such as fructose and glucose (or dextrose). If you have a constant crave for sweet foods, you can try replacing processed sweets with all-natural ones such as dates, figs and other fruits of your liking. This way you will satisfy your sweet tooth and lower the risk for chronic disease.
Very important: fruits are best consumed 1-2 hours before a meal and 2-3 hours after, as an independent meal. This will help keep your weight from fluctuating and within healthy limits. Eating a few dates will give you instant energy and help revitalize your body.
Dates contain around 8 g of fiber/100 g of fruit. Why is this important? Dietary fiber prevents too much LDL (bad) cholesterol from being absorbed at the intestinal level. A diet providing moderate amounts of fiber is believed to protect against cardiovascular disease.
In addition to this, fiber promotes regular bowel movements, acting as a mild natural laxative and preventing and treating constipation. Last but not least, fiber-rich foods such as dates limit the exposure of our colon to waste, decreasing related health risks such as colon cancer.
Because they are rich in tannins, natural antioxidants found in plants, they are believed to help limit free radical damage and prevent premature aging. Also, dates are shown to have impressive antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antihemorrhagic properties. A study on ‘The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery‘ came to the conclusion that consuming dates in the last month of pregnancy can promote cervical dilatation and reduce the degree of membrane rupture, thus preventing possible bacterial infections that can harm the fetus.
A quick look at the nutritional table above will reveal the amounts of vitamins and minerals found in 100 g of dates. There are fairly good amounts of B vitamins: pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and folic acid help increase energy levels. Copper (40%) can prevent hair graying, among other more impressive health benefits. Iron (11%) is good for people suffering from anemia.
Potassium (16%) counteracts the effects of a diet rich in sodium and lowers blood pressure. Magnesium (13%) maintains healthy muscles, heart included, and, at the same time, promotes healthy bones. As far as dates are concerned, they remain a healthy food choice that can satisfy anyone’s craving for something sweet.