Dates are dark brown, with wrinkled skin, which is sticky. They have a sweet taste, with a chewy and sticky texture. They come from the Date palm, a palm tree with feather-like leaves and small cream/white flowers.
The date palm can grow up to 100 feet and produce fruits for more than sixty years. Dates grow in clusters, and each cluster can hold up to two thousand dates.
The Date palm does well in the sun and does not thrive in shade. It requires very little rain and it can withstand long periods of drought, hence it’s suitability in drier countries.
Where did dates originate from?
Dates are believed to have originated from the Persian Gulf, in the countries of Iran and Iraq. They were also popular around the river Nile and river Euphrates. Even today, Iraq and Iran are one of the major producers of dates.
Uses of dates
• Dry or soft dates can be eaten as they are, as a snack. They are sweet and they contain natural sugars and low calories. They contain a myriad of minerals and vitamins.
• Stuffed dates, filled with cinnamon, nutmeg, crushed walnuts and almonds is one of the many ways you can stuff your dates.
• Dates make a delicious shake. Use a strong blender to blend the dates, and for a creamier shake you add milk.
• Dates are used in many baked products such as bread, cakes and pies.
• Chopped dates in salads, sandwiches and pasta, bring a sweet flavour to the food.
• Date fruits can also be used to make a face pack. Grind ten dates with half a lemon, until the mixture becomes a thick paste. Apply it on a clean face, and leave it on for fifteen minutes. Rinse it off with cold water. Your face will feel and look fresh, and glowing with health.
Health benefits of dates
Help with constipation
Dates are laxative foods, that is, foods which are rich in fibre and which are used as remedies for constipation. Date also inhibit the growth of harmful organisms and aid in the growth of good organisms in the intestines. To get the best out of the dates, soak them in water overnight as this softens them and makes them get digested easily.
Dates contain sulphur which helps to reduce allergic reactions. Dates have been shown to reduce seasonal allergies in people who suffer from them.
A healthy pregnancy
Most intestinal and digestive issues brought about by pregnancy can be reduced or eliminated by eating dates. Dates are rich in iron, which protect both mother and baby from anaemia. Dates also help the mother not to haemorrhage during and after birth. A lactating mother who eats dates regularly also ensures that her milk is infused with added nutrition.
Strengthens tooth enamels
Everyday foods, especially those than contain acids, tend to wear out your enamel over time. Dates stop tooth decay, by helping to remove plaque from your teeth.
Dates are a rich source of iron and anaemia is a condition brought about by lack of iron in the blood. When a person has anaemia, the number of red blood cells in their blood is low.
They are also rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese and copper, which is especially important in the production of blood cells.
A healthy nervous system
A nervous system consists of a network of nerves and cells which carry messages from and to the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body. Dates contain potassium which helps to keep the central nervous system healthy. Potassium improves the speed and alertness of the brain, therefore improving brain function.
Dates are easily digested by the body, thereby providing it with instant energy. They contain natural sugars like glucose, fructose and sucrose. They also help with the digestion of other foods as they contain twenty different amino acids, and they also provide the energy needed to digest those foods.
Increasing sexual stamina
Dates are a natural way to boost a fledging a low libido. Dates contain high levels of estradiol and flavonoid, compounds which have been shown to increase sperm count.
Frequent consumption of dates can reduce your chances of getting night blindness. The leaves of the Date palm are grounded and the paste rubbed around the eyes. This is believed to reduce night blindness in that person.
The potassium that is present in dates help to reduce and control diarrhoea. Dates promote normal functional of the excretory system.
Disadvantages of dates
Your tooth may have tooth decay if you eat dates regularly without brushing your teeth. Dates are sticky and can easily hide between teeth resulting in plaque which causes tooth decay. To protect yourself from harming your teeth, brush and floss after eating dates.
Consuming dates in large quantities can lead to weight gain. As with everything that you eat, you should exercise moderation, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits associated with dates. Minimise the portion of dates you eat, as their small portions can lead you to overeat them.
As noted before, dates are a laxative and are therefore very high in fibre. However too much fibre can cause you to have excess gas, cramping, constipation and even diarrhoea. Limit the amount of date that you take
If you suffer from an intolerance of fructose, dates can bring about the symptoms you associate with your intolerance.
Dried dates can cause a sharp rise in your blood sugar. This is because during the dehydration process of the dates, the natural sugars in the fruit become very concentrated.
This causes a rapid and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar as the dates are absorbed into the body. If you suffer from Type 2 diabetes, you’re better off eating whole and fresh fruits rather dried ones like dates, raisins etc