Date is an edible sweet fruit from the flowering plant species of the palm family arecaceae. The origin of the plant is not known but Iraq is presumed to be the land of origin. It is grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.
Dry and soft dates are consumed for their sweetness and nutritional value. Date is a high calorie fruit with 100 gm. of fruit providing 282 calories of energy, 75.03gm. Carbohydrates, of which, 63.35 gm. sugar and 8 gm. dietary fiber, fat 0.39gm. And protein 2.45 gm.
Date contains many vitamins though in small quantities. 100 gm. Dates provide pantothenic acid 0.589mg (12% RDA), vitamin B-6, 0.165mg (13%), niacin 1.274mg (8%), and riboflavin 0.066mg (6%) thiamine 0.052mg (5%) folate 19 microgram (%), vitamin K 2.7 microgram (3%).
Minerals in the same amount of dates are: magnesium 43mg (12%), manganese 0.262mg (12%), potassium 656mg (14%), phosphorous 62mg (9%), iron 1.02mg (8%), calcium 39mg (4%) and zinc 0.29mg (3%). The water content in date is 20.53 gm.
With high calories, carbohydrates and sugar date is a substitute diet.
Health benefits of red dates or jujubes
A number of health benefits are derived from consumption of dates. Prominent among them are:
Dates provide high calories of energy and sugar. In addition to that, protein and many other essential vitamins are present in it. People who are slim and have become weak due to some other medical conditions can liberally consume dates. Dates not only increase the body weight but also strengthen muscles. Boosting muscle strength is important to improve body stamina. Dates remove sluggishness from the body as they contain natural sugars like glucose, fructose and sucrose which provide instant energy and remove lethargy.
Improves nerve health
Potassium is an important ingredient in dates which is required for an active and healthy nervous system. Potassium in dates improves the alertness and speed of the activities of the brain. Aging makes the nervous system sluggish and regular consumption of dates remove sluggishness and promotes the brisk functioning of the nervous system.
Anti-oxidant flavonoids like B-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin present in dates eliminates the free radicals produced and accumulated all over the body during metabolism. Free radicals are harmful and produce cancer causing cells. By eliminating such free radicals consumption of dates prevent colon, prostate, lung, breast and pancreatic cancers.
The moderate levels of vitamin A with antioxidant properties present, dates enhances the quality of vision. Moreover zeaxanthin is an important carotenoid present in dates which performs the light filtering functions protecting the eyes from harmful light rays. It also prevents macular degeneration to which particularly elders are prone to.
Dates are rich in dietary fiber, protein and vitamins B1, 2, 3 and 5 along with vitamins A and C. The vitamins with the soluble and insoluble fiber join the amino acids present in dates and improve the digestive system. Improvement in the digestive system facilitates healthy bowel movement and prevents constipation.
Improves heart health
Dates are rich source of potassium which has the potential to reduce LDL cholesterol level and lower the blood pressure. Keeping the cholesterol and blood pressure under check are vital for healthy heart and dates precisely do that and prevents strokes and heart attacks. In addition to the potassium present in it, the other important mineral, iron present in dates purifies the blood by carrying oxygen to the tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the heart for purification of the blood.
Improves bone health
Pyridoxine, niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin present in dates act as co factors in the bone metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, protein and vitamin K and enhances bone strength. With these, calcium present in dates help blood clotting, muscle contraction and strengthens the bones and teeth.
Tannin present in dates prevents easy bleeding even as the calcium in it helps blood clotting. Tannins are also anti-inflammatory and anti-infective.
Date oil extract is applied as hair oil to make the hair thick and strong. It also prevents splitting of hair. Hair fall is prevented by consumption of dates as it improves the overall strength of the body and cures anemia.
How to consume
Both dried and semi-dried dates are available in the stores throughout the year. You can eat the dates as whole after removing the single seed inside. Another way is to eat date fruits walnuts and almonds for combined nutrition, benefits and taste. You can chop them and use as a garnish with salads and desserts. Dates syrup is consumed for instant energy boost. Consumption of dates or dates syrup regularly improves stamina, particularly in people who are weak due to other medical conditions.