A Date a day keeps more than just the doctor away! Indeed, this humble fruit of the palm tree, grown in the desert region, has the potential of not only keeping diseases at bay, but is also an important source of sustenance for people who go on fast during the holy days of Ramadan, for all round health of children and pregnant women, and as a diet supplement for those wanting to gain weight! These delicious tropical fruits are loaded with minerals, and energy, required for normal growth, well being and all round development.
The Date Trail:
The Date trail goes back to about 7000BC – 8000 BC and remnants of the date fruit have been found in many Neolithic sites, particularly Syria and Egypt. It is presumed that the date palm was first cultivated in Medina, the place where the first descendants of Noah’s ark landed after the floods. It has been cultivated in the Arab world for centuries and is the oldest harvested and cultivated source of food. Also known as the ‘Tree of Life’, according to a Muslim legend, the date palm has been known to have been created from the left over dust that was used to create Adam. The date palm soon spread across Africa to Spain and further to Western Asia. It was Alexander who introduced this palm tree in India when his soldiers inadvertently spat out the seed of their dates around their camp, (which was their chief ration), and these seeds grew up into palm groves. The early nomads used the date fruit as a means of survival for its high nutritive value and its long shelf life. (Dates, when dried, can be stored for a very long time). The high sugar content (80%) inhibited the growth of germs and was the perfect food to keep them healthy.
Date and Religion:
According to Islam, the date fruit is a fruit of heaven, and is mentioned many times in the holy book of the Muslims, the Quran. The Prophet Muhammad advises “if anyone of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates.” During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, which helps to identify themselves with the poor by feeling hunger for 27 to 29 days every year. The evening fast is generally broken by having a glass of milk with some fresh dates. The high energy of the date syrup helps to restore many of the vital substances needed by the body after the rigorous hours of fasting. Mention of the palm tree also occurs in the Hebrew Bible by God as the perfect supplier of food, shelter and medicine, when the people of Israel were promised a new land at Canaan, located on the banks of the Jordan River, known as the promised land of “milk and honey(palm dates). “All kinds of fruit trees will grow along the river banks, the leaves will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit. There will be a new crop every month- without fail! For they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for medicine.” (Ezekiel 47-12)
Health Benefits of Dates:
Dates are considered as one of the healthiest and safest foods and it is mare famously known as an instant energy booster. This fruit is affluent with natural fibers and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals which helps to lower cholesterol and keep most diseases at bay. The numerous health benefits of dates include fighting constipation, intestinal disorders, weight gain, heart disorders, diarrhea, and abdominal cancer and also act as an aphrodisiac (Scientific studies have shown that date seed oil helps to improve sperm count).
Benefits of Dates for Constipation:
The date fruit is an excellent laxative. Soak the dates overnight in water and have the water along with the dates first thing in the morning. Intestinal disorders are also taken care of by consuming dates regularly as dates have a nicotinic content in them which helps keep a check on the growth of pathological organisms and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the small intestine. It also helps in curing diarrhea as dates contain potassium, which are easily digestible.
Dates for Heart Health:
Soak a couple of dates overnight. In the morning, crush the dates and have it along with the water. Repeat it twice a week. This helps in maintaining your heart in a healthy condition.
Dates for Abdominal Cancer:
Dates are known to cure abdominal cancer without causing any side effects.
Dates for Weight Gain:
Dates contain sugar, proteins, fats and a lot of essential and is ideal diet if you want to gain weight. Make a paste of a few dates along with half a cucumber and have it once a day for about a week.
Benefits of Dates During Pregnancy:
Ideal for women during pregnancy, the date fruit helps immensely in the growth of the fetus. Scientific studies have also proved that dates contain some stimulants that strengthen the muscles of the uterus during pregnancy. This helps in dilation and prevents excessive bleeding post delivery. It is also a good source of nutrition for breast feeding mothers.
Dates for Anemia:
Dates have a high content of iron and helps to treat patients with anemia. Have plenty of dates and watch your blood count increase dramatically!
Dates for Intoxication:
Having a hangover? Have dates that have been soaked overnight in water. They provide quick relief from alcoholic intoxication. (More Home Remedies for Hangover)
Apart from all these dates’ benefits, they are also known to improve eyesight and also help in curing night blindness.
Dates – Important Data:
A pioneer of fine quality, packaged dates, Lion Dates Impex Pvt Ltd, is India’s largest date processing and trading company and has listed the nutrients present per 100 grams of dates which have been tabled below:
Nutritional information per 100g of Dates
|Total Carbohydrates (g)||73.6|
|Vitamin E (mg)||16.8|
|Dietary fiber (g)||7.6|
|Calories From Fat||4|
Important Date Facts:
- The scientific name of the date palm is Phoenix dactylifera, where Dactylifera means ‘date bearing’ and phoenix is symbolic of legendary bird, the phoenix, which lives for a thousand years.
- Dates are a natural source of dietary fiber, proteins, and vitamins and contain B1, B2, B3 and B5 and Vitamin A1 and Vitamin C.
- They are free from Cholesterol and contain negligible amounts of fat.
- High content of Potassium found in dates is presumed to help reduce risk of stroke.
- Dates can be consumed in any form. As a snack, it can be added to many sweet recipes. Ground in milk, with honey added to it, it becomes a delicious milkshake, although the best and easiest way to consume them is by just popping them into your mouth and enjoying the unadulterated taste of the sweet and succulent fruit!
Present day scientists have begun to take more interest in the health benefits of dates and are carrying out in vitro and animal studies to identify the phytochemicals found in this fruit and going by the literature available on the nutritional and phytochemical composition, it is apparent that the dates have a high degree of nutritional health benefits and has potential curative effects. Studies also go to show that fresh date varieties are a good source of antioxidants and that dried fruits if consumed on a regular basis, could produce a rich source of micro and macro nutrients.