Dates are one of the sweetest fruits on the planet. They are a significant traditional crop in Arabia, Iraq, and north Africa to Morocco. This fruit is also mentioned over 50 times in the Bible and around 20 times in the Qur’an. Dates (especially Deglet Noor and Medjool) are also cultivated in the U.S.A. in southern Florida, southern California, and Arizona and in Baja California and Sonora in Mexico.
In Islamic culture, dates and milk or yogurt are traditionally the 1st food eaten for Iftar after the sun has set during the popular holiday Ramadan. In Christian-orthodox culture, dates are usually consumed on the night before Christmas as a part of the celebration dinner 1 .
What Are Fresh Dates?
Dates are the fruits of a date palm. If you’ve never consumed a freshly picked date, they are worth trying out for their amazingly sweet, caramel-like flavor and—this is where they actually diverge most from dried dates—their nice and soft luscious texture.
Most dates are allowed to hang on the trees in order to dry a bit and “cure” before being gathered so they will last longer once picked. These “fresh dates” are available at many specialty grocery stores, and they are also impeccably, utterly delicious.
Dates Nutrition Facts
If you’re looking for copper, potassium, or fiber, look no further than dates. While this fruit is rich in numerous essential nutrients and hence offer many benefits, the date is so small that you will need to eat a larger quantity in order to intake the necessary amounts.
The following nutritional data outlines some of the main nutrients found in this fruit, and is based on 100 gram serving of dates 2 :
- 696 milligrams of potassium (20% RDA)
- 7 grams of fiber (27% RDA)
- 3 milligrams of manganese (15% RDA)
- 4 milligrams of copper (18% RDA)
- 2 milligrams of Vitamin B6 (12% RDA)
- 54 milligrams of magnesium (14% RDA)
Note: Dates have high sugar content – about 66.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams serving of dates. It’s recommended to reduce sugar intake as much as possible, even when it is being consumed from fruits.
Health Benefits of Dates
Dates have been found to have many benefits and potential for usage in the management of various health conditions. Here are the possible health benefits of dates:
- Improve bone health
The date is rich in magnesium, copper, manganese, and selenium, and all of these are necessary when it comes to keeping your bones healthy, and preventing certain health conditions, like osteoporosis. 3
- Lower cholesterol
Did you know that this fruit contains very little fat and is free from cholesterol? Including dates in smaller amounts in your daily diet can help you keep a check on your cholesterol levels.
- Protein-rich food
This small fruit is a great source of proteins, which keep our muscles strong and help us in staying fit. Many regular gym goers are asked to consume a few dates each day as part of their standard daily routine.
- Strengthens the nervous system
The date is loaded with potassium, and also contain little sodium, which is an ideal mineral combination in keeping the nervous system in order. The potassium can help prevent stroke and can help reduce “bad” cholesterol. 4
- Rich in iron
Except for the fluorine, which keeps the teeth healthy, the date also contains iron that is highly recommended for people who suffer from iron deficiency. Moreover, it’s good for blood purification, too.
Related: Iron deficiency anemia: Best Iron-Rich Foods, Quick Treatment
- Promote digestion
If you eat dates or soak some in water and consume them every day, your will improve the work of your digestive system. Plus, it is recommended for individuals who often have constipation issues.
- Support Weight Gain
Dates are really flexible! They can be a part of your weight loss diet program and also can assist to weight gain. The proteins, sugar, and vitamins in the fruit support weight gain when you need it. Furthermore, it’s said that when consumed with cucumber, this fruit helps to keep the weight at normal levels. And that’s what we call flexibility!
- Rich in essential vitamins
Date contains vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, and B5, as well Vitamin A and C. If you eat a few dates each day, you won’t have to take any vitamin supplements. Not just will it keep you vigorous – these will be a visible change in your energy levels as well, due to the fact that date contains natural sugars, like fructose, sucrose, and glucose, too. Therefore, it works really good as a quick snack.
- Improve skin
The Vitamin D and Vitamin C works on the elasticity of the skin, and also keep the skin smooth. Moreover, if you experience some skin issues, incorporating this fruit into your diet may help you in the long run. Plus, the date also comes with anti-ageing properties and can prevent the accumulation of melanin in the body.
- Fix hangovers
It’s said that eating dates is a brilliant way to control inebriation. Plus, it can also help to eliminate hangover. For best results, you rub the skin a bit, and soak them in water overnight and eat them the next day.
Types of Dates
There are many varieties of this fruit grown in the Middle East. In America, the most commonly available date is Medjool that is tender and plump, and Deglet Noor, which is slender, semi-soft, and a bit chewy.
This fruit is also classified by when it’s harvested since that determines how dry or soft the date is. Freshly harvested ones are really soft; as stated before, most “fresh dates” for sale in America have been left on the tree to dry for a while after they are ripe (and hence, last longer after harvest) and these will still be soft, though, have a bit more of a toothsome quality to them.
Cooking with Dates
Dates are best eaten raw. The sweet fruit makes for an ideal breakfast snack, in porridges and cereals. Many people have even substitute refined sugar with date syrup.
Jaggery, which is made from the date palm, is a delicious addition to black coffee, and dried dates can be added to bread, cakes, and many other dishes. You can keep a box of seedless or seeded dates in your fridge, and ensure to have a few daily. It will also prevent you from overindulging.
Dates are a great source of numerous vitamins and minerals. It’s a good source of fiber, sugar, and energy. Essential minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, potassium, sodium, iron, and calcium are found in this fruit. It also contains vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. This fruit has many health benefits and many nutritionists recommend this fruit as a part of every healthy, well-balanced diet.