The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, is a medium-sized palm that grows from 15 to 35 meters. The leaves of a date palm are 3 to 5 meters in length, with spines on its petiole and pinnate. It has approximately 150 leaflets, where each leaflet is around 30 cm long and 2 cm wide. The date palm is cultivated for its edible sweet fruit called dates.
Dactylifera, the species name of the date palm, means date-bearing. It was derived from the Greek word daktulos, which means finger, and the Latin verb feros, which means “I bear”. Dates are fruits with elongated shapes that resemble human fingers. Dates are normally 3 cm to 7 cm long with oval-cylindrical shapes.
Believed to have originated in Mesopotamia, dates have been the staple food in Middle East countries for thousands of years. In Ancient Egypt, dates were made into wine. Nowadays, dates are eaten either whole or added in different Mediterranean and Middle East dishes.
Dates are served as desserts, chopped into small slices and sprinkled in puddings and cakes to enhance their flavor. The seeds are also removed and stuffed with various fillings, such as nuts, apricots, lemon or orange peel, and other tasty fillings.
Health Benefits of Dates
Dates contain dietary fibers and natural sugars such as fructose, sucrose, and glucose. Fructose and similar sugars are naturally produced in the body so they are safe to health. These sugars are easily digested to produce energy for the body.
Similarly, dates are found to have high content of several B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and vitamin B9 (folic acid). Riboflavin and thiamin help process food and convert them to energy to perform different activities while niacin aid in maintaining nerve cells to work normally.
Dates are rich sources of various essential vitamin, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. They also provide other essential nutrients to the body, such as amino acids, fats, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur.
Studies have also shown that date fruits prevent abdominal cancer by working as a stimulant and providing energy to the body. Dates aid in fighting digestive problems as well, such as constipation, diarrhea, and intestinal disorders as they encourage the growth of pathological organisms and increase the good bacteria in the intestines.
Dates are beneficial for a healthy diet in controlling weight gain, increasing sexual stamina, and providing quick relief due to alcoholic intoxication.
Dates for a Healthy Heart
Dates are not only delicious, sweet and chewy but also fully loaded with nutrition that is good for the heart. The high potassium content of dates can contribute significantly as part of a healthy heart diet.
Researchers revealed in their studies that consuming 400mg of potassium each day reduces the possibility of stroke by 40%. Potassium stimulates muscle contraction, relaxes blood vessels and regulates blood pressure, preventing hypertension.
Furthermore, dates have been found to be low in sodium, thereby preventing high high blood pressure. Soak the dates overnight and crush them in the morning after they have plumped up. Delicious. Dates are also recognized to be beneficial for weak hearts when consumed twice a week.
Dates are excellent sources of fiber, and have been proven to be healthy for the heart as they help lower blood cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar level. Studies show that eating 100 grams of dates each day aids in regulating blood cholesterol by preventing the absorption of fat and cholesterol.
Despite its sweet taste and honey-like flavor, dates are considered heart-friendly fruits because they are free from cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fats. Dates also contain a very low amount of calories, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Dates contain antioxidants, too. Antioxidants are powerful substances found in different foods that help fight off cancer, diabetes, macular degeneration, heart diseases and other diseases caused by oxidative damage.