This humble fruit from deserts may appear uninteresting, but is stuffed with nutrients and various health benefits. This is why Muslims from all over the world break their fast during holy month of Ramadan by eating dates. Sweet and delicious drupes from tropical oasis can be consumed directly or stuffed in foods.
Chopped dates also find part of several recipes, puddings, desserts. Dates are also processed into cubes, paste, spread, date syrup, powder (date sugar) or vinegar. Dehydrated dates also find use in animal feed. Young date leaves and flower buds are consumed in some parts of world. In Asia, sweet sap of date palm drawn by tapping plant, which is later converted into palm sugar/jaggery, molasses or alcoholic beverages. Ground date seeds are also used as animal feed. Date seed oil is used as source of oxalic acid and is suitable for in manufacture of soap and cosmetics.
Did you know? Dates are called Khajoor/ khajur in Hindi. In Mumbai, Khajoor is used as slang to refer a person as stupid or non sense. It is also known as Chhuhara in Hindi.
Nutritional Value of Dates
Dates are packed with wide range of essential nutrients. With almost nil fat, they contain mainly sugar (mix of simple sugar and complex sugar), protein and fibers. They are good source of potassium, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. They will consist of vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, vitamin C and over 20 distinct amino acids that will help us absorb as well as deal with carbohydrate along with manage blood sugar as well as fatty acids levels. One ripe date provides around 60 calories or energy equivalent to loaf of bread.
Health benefits of Dates
Dates offers body essential nutrients which helps in maintaining body electrolyte balance, provide instant energy. It is also helpful in treating various gastro intestinal disorders, constipation and diarrhea. Khajoor promotes health of your bones, cardiovascular system and reproductive system. Modern research has found Dates helpful in treating cancer because of its antioxidant properties. Below are more benefits of dates:
Dates as Energy booster
Small but fresh, soft dates contain simple digestible sugars like fructose and dextrose. When eaten, they replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly. They are rightly known as energy boosters. This is the reason why it is consumed post Ramadan fast. Breaking fast with eating dates helps us to avoid overeating of the food after the fast and helps pacify feeling of hunger. Dates along with milk is considered nutritious snack. With potassium content along with energy, they help maintain body fluid and electrolyte balance and have many health benefits.
Dates for Weight Gain
With high nutrient and calorie content, Dates help in weight gain and are beneficial for those who suffer from over slimming problem. It offers a healthy alternative for weight gain. A handful of dates would offer you more than 250 calories combined with fibers, vitamins and minerals.
Skin benefits of dates
Dates are loaded with vitamins and minerals which are essential for well being of skin. It helps skin maintain its elasticity and keeps it smooth. With antioxidant properties, it protects skin from aging and can reduce wrinkles. Try this date palm face mask for a youthful looking skin –
Date Palm Face Mask: Clean dates thoroughly with water before use. Soak 4-5 pitted dates in a cup of goat milk for about ½ hour. Once dates are soft, blend them. Mix some semolina or oatmeal to this to make thick paste. Use this to massage your face and neck. Apply the paste to skin and let it remain for 15-20 minutes. Wash with cold water.
Dates for increasing bone strength
Dates provide body with essential minerals like magnesium, selenium, manganese, copper which are essential for bone development. Regular consumption of dates would ensure that your bones are supplied with their quota of minerals and thus reduces risk of degenerative diseases like osteoporosis.
[Read more about foods to keep away from osteoporosis]
Healthy heart recipe – Dates
Sufficient minerals like potassium ensure that your cardiovascular system is healthy. This reduces risk of heart diseases including stroke. Fibers in dates helps keep cholesterol levels. Eating milk soaked dates in morning is considered good practice for overall health of heart.
High fiber content and Digestive health
High fiber content of dates offers wonderful health benefits for digestive tract. Soluble and insoluble fibers in dates help improve digestive system. Dietary fibers in dates also prevent LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. It helps in bowel movements and is helpful for people suffering from constipation. It is referred as healthy laxative food. This is why that dates are very therapeutic for individuals struggling with constipation. Dates soaked in water overnight are considered to have highest laxative impact. Dietary fibers also protect mucous membrane in intestine and decreases impact of carcinogenic materials.
Prevents from Gastro Intestinal Disorders
In lifetime, human intestine is subject to several disorders. Regular intake of dates is considered good for intestinal health. Dates help keep in check accumulation of toxic materials in intestine, development of micro organisms. Dates are very therapeutic for treating stomach cancer. They act as natural beneficial tonic for all those age groups.
Fibers in dates ensure proper bowel movement and offers relief from constipation. It is also mildly laxative in nature.
Diarrhea leads to loss of body fluid, potassium and other minerals from the body. Potassium rich dates offer necessary electrolytes and minerals for controlling diarrhea. Dates are easily digestible and thus provide quick relief with difficulties of diarrhea.
[Read more about natural ways to fight flatulence]
Increase Sexual endurance with dates
Dates are considered useful in raising sexual stamina within body. A sexual weakness may be covered up along with dates. Handful of dates soaked overnight in goat milk, consumed along with honey and cardamom is considered secret potion for sexual endurance. Dates are considered beneficial tonic to increase sex endurance as well as sterility brought on because of functional problems.
Dates as Antioxidants
Dates contain flavonoid polyphenols like ß-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin which have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals.
Dates for enhancing memory
Dates are good food source for enhancing memory and concentration. Nutrient content in dates helps promote health and functionality of brain and other nervous system. It keeps brain alert and responsive and protects it from signs of aging.
[Read more on Yoga for enhancing memory]
Dates cures intoxication
Intoxication is weakness of our body, may be result of alcohol consumption or other drugs. It leads to mental and physical side effects. Dates are considered beneficial and wonder treatment for alcoholic intoxication. They offer quick comfort from pains of alcoholic intoxication including mood swings, memory loss and impaired sense.
Dates for cancer cure
Dates offer benefits in protecting body from action of free radicals. Thus, eating dates found to offer some protection from colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Latest research points to use of dates and its ingredients in alternative way of treating abdominal cancer.
Dates for Anemia
Dates with considerable iron content are considered natural home remedy on fighting iron deficiency and other anemic conditions. Anemia patients are encouraged to consume large portions of dates in their diet regularly to boost iron content in blood. It also offers various vitamins which are essential in absorption of iron in body.
Night blindness? Use dates
Dates are also rich source of Vitamin A which are good anti oxidant and essential for good vision. Vitamin A in dates helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and skin. Dates with high Vitamin A help cure night blindness.
Dates during pregnancy
Pregnancy is usually accompanied with gastro intestinal and digestive problems. Dates work as wonder diet in such conditions. Apart from this it provides nutrients and minerals required during this condition. Dates in addition avoid hemorrhage soon after childbirth. Dates are also considered to have health benefits for mother and newborn baby. Dried dates powder mixed with milk is often given to infants to enhance brain growth.
Did you know? Koreans use dried red dates in making tea along with ginger. It helps in with indigestion, asthma, coughing, trickle throat. Date tea also helps in pacifying body and consumption before going to bed promotes good sleep.
Side effects of dates
Care should be taken while consumption of dates. Though they are full of nutrients, the sticky surface of dates attracts various impurities. Hence care should be take while choice of dates. Allergy from consumption of dates is rare. Dates have high glycemic index and should be avoided by diabetic patients. If you are weight loss regime, 1-2 dates won’t matter. However large portion of dates should be avoided. Dates contain sulphur to protect themselves from growth of bacteria. People sensitive to sulphites may encounter bloating, gas or stomach ache on eating dates. Sticky and not so easy to digest dates should be avoided by babies. Risk of choking in babies exists with dates.
Besides being exceptionally tasty, dates provide a myriad of health benefits owing to the wide range of nutrients it contains. They are inexpensive and also easily available all through the year. So next time you crave for something sweet, yet healthy and refreshing, grab a couple of dates and enjoy their benefits.