Monday, December 10, 2012

Dates: Health benefits

I had always loved dates, but realized they are hard to find here in the Philippines.  In New York, almost all supermarkets carry an ample supply.  I often had a quart of dates in the fridge, especially on weekends.  They are extremely delicious … and sweet.

A friend residing in Dubai suggested that I visit with his family and feast on various kinds of dates.  I might just take him up on it one of these days.  Be that as it may, according to Wikipedia, dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and parts of South Asia for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to be made into date wine, and ate them at harvest. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006).

In addition, dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, candied orange and lemon peel, tahini, marzipan or cream cheese. Pitted dates are also referred to as stoned dates. Partially dried pitted dates may be glazed with glucose syrup for use as a snack food.

Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savory dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco to puddings, ka'ak (types of Arab cookies) and other dessert items. Date nut bread, a type of cake, is very popular in the United States, especially around holidays. Dates are also processed into cubes, paste called "'ajwa", spread, date syrup or "honey" called "dibs" or "rub" in Libya, powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol. Vinegar made from dates is a traditional product of the Middle East.

Recent innovations include chocolate-covered dates and products such as sparkling date juice, used in some Islamic countries as a non-alcoholic version of champagne, for special occasions and religious times such as Ramadan.

Most important, herewith a list of the health benefits of consuming dates:

1) Dates are free from cholesterol and contain very low fat. Dates are rich in vitamins and minerals.

2) They are rich sources of protein, dietary fiber and rich in vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B5 along with vitamin A1 and C.

3 )It helps improve the digestive system as it contains soluble and insoluble fibers and different kinds of amino acids.

4) Dates are great energy boosters as they contain natural sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose. To get more advantage add dates to milk and make it a very nutritious snack.

5) Dates are very low in calories and are extremely suitable for health conscious people.

6) Dates are rich in potassium and reduced in sodium. This helps regulate a healthy nervous system. Researchers have revealed the fact that potassium intake up to a certain extent can reduce risk of stroke.

7) Dates also help in lowering of the LDL cholesterol.

8) Dates have high iron content and are very useful in treating anemia. The patients can eat many dates for better advantages.

9) Dates also have fluorine that slows down the process of tooth decay.

10) It helps people suffering from constipation. Soak dates overnight and take it along with water for added advantage.

11) Dates help in weight gain and are beneficial for those who suffer from over slimming problem.

12) Dates are excellent for alcohol intoxication. It is known to cure abdominal cancer.

13) It also helps in improving eyesight as well as night blindness.

14) The best thing is that it does not have any side effect on the body and is completely natural as well as it works better than medicine.

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Suggested reads:

Oregon State University: Dates – The holy fruit of Arabia

Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Dates

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