By Jennifer Townes
A Date is a sweet fruit from the Date Palm (scientific name: Phoenix dactylifera). Originating in the desert oases of northern Africa and southwest Asia, Middle Eastern peoples have included dates as a part of their diet for centuries. The date is thought to be one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits.
The date palm has been referenced to as a “tree of life,” probably due to its excellent health benefits as well as its high nutritional value.
The surface of a date can be rather sticky, and as such lends itself to the harboring of dust and various impurities. It is advisable to purchase dates in good packaging conditions. Thoroughly wash dates prior to consumption.
Dates are best eaten when they are fresh, in season and water rich. You may also find raw dried dates at your organic market and these will be more concentrated and should be treated like all other dried fruits.
History of Dates
As a staple of Middle Eastern countries, dates have been cultivated since ancient times, likely as early as 6000 BC. Date Palms produce bunches of oval drupes that are at least 3 cm long and 2 cm in diameter. These drupes are called dates.
Evidence from archeologists reveals that dates were likely first cultivated in ancient times in the eastern Arab region, later, spreading around northern Africa, Italy, Spain and South East Asia.
Spanish peoples introduced dates to the people of Mexico and California around 1765. The fruit has a large variety and more than 400 varieties are produced in the palm groves of Iran.
Today dates are cultivated in Arizona and southern California in the United States.
Dates are incorporated in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine and desserts, and are often eaten whole. Frequently they are found stuffed with sweet fillings after removing its seed.
Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and Muslims fast each day, from sunrise to sunset, in order to gain a higher level of spiritual enlightenment. The tradition of eating dates during Ramadan, in order to break the fast at the end of each day, spans the course of history back to the time of the Prophet Mohammed (570-632 CE).
Naturally, a depletion of energy can be experienced as a result of fasting, and consuming dates is thought to be a gentle way in which to ease the body back into the act of eating. Dates, it is said, prevent metabolic, digestive, and other physical issues that may be caused by the practice of fasting.
Proported Health Advantages of Eating Dates
· Dates are digested very easily therefore they are good for supplying quick energy.
· They are known to be an excellent cure for intestinal disturbances.
· Regular consumption of dates has been found to check the growth of pathological organisms and help in the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines.
· Being a laxative food, dates have been found to be beneficial for those suffering from constipation, as well dates generally help the elimination of waste. They can be immersed in water at night and taken after making them into a fine syrup the next morning to secure laxative effect.
· Studies have shown that consumption of dates, soaked overnight and crushed, is good for those who have heart problems.
· Researchers have revealed that dates are effective in preventing abdominal cancer.
· One of the key benefits of dates is its ability to regulate a healthy nervous system, thanks to the rich potassium content. Research has recommended that higher intake of potassium (about 400 mg) can cut the risk of stroke by 40 percent.
· Ability to lower LDL cholesterol.
· Dates are rich in iron and can be beneficial to those who suffer from anemia.
· Israeli research has found that eating dates daily for four weeks can improve the quality of lipids (fats) in the blood without raising sugar levels.
Additional Benefits to Pregnant and Nursing Mothers
Some experiments have shown results that point to the strengthening of the uterine muscles due to consumption of dates. This is beneficial particularly in the last months of pregnancy. As well it is said dates can help dilation at the time of delivery. It should also be mentioned that research has found a link between dates and a reduction of bleeding postpartum.
With this information it is concluded that dates are a real benefit to women in pregnancy and those who are breast-feeding.
Dates are believed to contain elements that assist in alleviating depression in mothers and enriching the breast-milk with elements needed to make the child healthy and resistant to disease.
Health Benefits of Teeth in Regard to Eating Dates
By consuming dates, which contain an element called fluorine (this is responsible for the fruits enamel building) it is probable that they will assist in cavity prevention.
However care should be taken when partaking in all dried fruits, as well they should be enjoyed in moderation. Rinsing your mouth with water during and after meals should help prevent tooth decay. After eating high sugar fruits that leave residue on teeth (such as dried dates) you should always brush your teeth.
Suppliers of Raw Organic Dates
An excellent source that I recommend for purchasing high quality dates is the DATE PEOPLE.
They provide raw dates that are never frozen or heated. Using sustainable growing they provide forty different varieties of dates.
The Date People P.O. Box 808,
Niland CA 92257 Phone 760-359-3211