Dates are the fruits of the date palm tree which are primarily grown and cultivated in dry places such as the Middle Eastern countries. They are oval to cylindrical in shape with the outer fleshy part surrounding a shell of endocarp containing a seed inside. Fresh unripe dates are yellow in color and they turn brown upon ripening. They are sweet with a rich deep flavor and slightly chewy texture. During the Ramadan month, Muslims break their fast with dates.
In the Middle East, dates are often used or added as ingredients in several pastry products and chocolates. They can be pitted and candied but they can also be eaten fresh. Whether fresh or dry, dates offer several health benefits. They are rich in nutritional content and are beneficial to your health in so many ways.
The health benefits of dates
1. Treats Anemia
Anemia is characterized by a low quantity of red blood cells (RBCs) in the human body caused by certain factors such as bleeding, pregnancy, menstruation or iron deficiency. Anemia caused by iron deficiency can be avoided or treated by consuming iron-rich foods such as dates.
While iron is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin in RBCs, hemoglobin is what binds with oxygen and nutrients to be distributed to the different organs of the body. Dates contain a significant level of iron making them the perfect home remedy treatment for anemia.
2. Treats and relieves constipation
Dried or fresh dates are high in dietary fiber which is essential for promoting healthy bowel movements. Many people do not get the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber in their diet but a small pack of dates for snacks can fill in where the diet is lacking.
However, in order to take advantage of the digestive benefits of dates and maximize its benefits to relieve constipation, it must be soaked in hot water overnight. Eat these soaked dates in the morning and drink the liquid they have been prepared in.
3. Dates are high in antioxidants
In a study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” in 2005 where the antioxidant compounds in three varieties of both the fresh and dried dates were examined, it was determined by the researchers that all three types of fresh dates contained high concentrations of two potent antioxidants, carotenoids and anthocyanins. Dried dates on the other hand contained a significant amount of polyphenol compounds. It was concluded that any variety or form of dates could add beneficial amount of antioxidants to your diet, which in turn are beneficial in preventing heart disease, cancer, diabetes and neurological problems like Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Promotes healthy bones
Dates are packed with significant amount of materials such as selenium, manganese, magnesium and copper which are required in keeping our bones healthy and curing painful diseases like osteoporosis. These minerals found in dates greatly contribute to healthy bone development and are useful in strengthening bones particularly with the progression of age when bones gradually weaken.
5. Assists in weight gain
If you are underweight or thin and slim, dates are the perfect thing for you, as they are a great source of proteins, sugar and many essential vitamins. It is also said that consuming dates with cucumber helps to keep your weight at normal levels. Consuming dates also helps build muscles.
6. Lowers cholesterol, controls high blood pressure and improves the function of the heart
Dates are loaded with potassium which reduces the risk of stroke and other heart-related diseases. Furthermore, the consumption of dates was suggested as a healthy and delicious way to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol or LDL in the body, which is major contributing factor for heart disease and stroke.
Aside from potassium, dates contain several vitamins including vitamins A, C and several B vitamins such as Folic acid which helps manage homocysteine (high levels of which are linked to heart disease) and Niacin which helps raise good cholesterol or HDL.
7. Maintains healthy skin and prevents advance aging
Regular consumption of dates provides the body with ample amount of vitamin C which has been proven highly effective in maintaining the beauty of skin. Dates also contain vitamin B5 which helps to prevent skin problems like stretch marks.
As mentioned earlier, dates are high in antioxidants which can effectively counter the harmful free radicals in the body, thus preventing the skin from aging prematurely. Vitamin C in dates helps to decrease the occurrence of wrinkles by preventing the accumulation of melanin inside the body
Daily consumption of dates is highly advisable. You can soak 6-7 dates overnight and then have them with milk in the morning. This will not only make your skin radiant but it will also provide you with enough energy to last the whole morning.
*** Do you have sweet tooth but want to stay healthy? Adding 3 dates to your daily diet is a smart way to do this. You can satisfy your cravings for sweets without having to worry about breaking your healthy eating habits. Dates are good for overall health despite their fructose concentration.