Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which is grown in many tropical regions of the world. Dates have become quite popular in recent years.
Almost all dates sold in Western countries are dried. A wrinkled skin indicates they are dried, whereas a smooth skin indicates freshness.
There are a wide variety of dates. Depending on the variety, fresh dates are fairly small in size and range in color from bright red to bright yellow. Among them, the raw and dried forms are the healthiest, rather than dates preserved in sugar, dates stuffed with nuts and other fillings, chocolate-coated dates, date pastes, date balls and date-based desserts.
The fruit can be eaten by people of all ages, including babies.
According to the reports, there are over 200 types of dates. In the international market, Khalas, Barhei, Bou Ma’an, Maktomi, Gaberi; Ajwa, Majdool (locally known as Madhool), Deglet Noor, Sukkari are the most expensive dates.
Ajwah, Al Khunaizi, Khalasah, Deglet Noor, Medjool and Rotab dates are the most commonly consumed varieties.
Dates are also high in vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to other health benefits.
Dates are available at most supermarkets and are great as a snack & and their natural sweetness makes them a good substitute for sugar.
Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit.
The species is widely cultivated across Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.
The origin of the date palm tree is extremely important. The quality of dates in coastal areas decreases while desert and interior areas yield high quality dates.
The different physical and chemical properties play a vital role in dates’ price, in addition to the different nutritional properties and the size, colour, thickness, softness, and sweetness.
Dates are chewy with a sweet flavor. They are also high in some important nutrients and have a variety of advantages and uses.
Naturally sweet fruit has nutritional benefits, consumption emulates prophetic examples which are staple part of the diet throughout the year in Gulf countries mostly and also in other parts. Dates gain increased prominence during Ramadan.
The nutritious fruits are not only the start to most worshippers’ iftar meals but also a part of many desserts traditionally prepared during the holy month.
According to Manager of dietetics at the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City Dr. Nisar Ahmed Bathoolunnisa, “it is believed Dates were one of Prophet Muhammad’s favourite and most desired food items.
“So, it is customary in many countries for Muslims to break their fast at the time of iftar by consuming dates as it is [considered to be a] blessed practice based on the [example] of Prophet Muhammad,” Dr. said.
In addition, the fruit can act as a substitute for empty-calorie sweets, and dates can therefore be a natural sugar replacement in desserts.
Due to Dates containing high fiber, vitamin B-6 and iron people feel full for longer, it is believed.
Moderation Way For Diabetics
Dates may help in weight loss only when consumed in moderation. It is safe to eat dates in moderation which is unlikely to raise a person’s blood sugar excessively. Having 4 to 5 dates every day keeps hunger pangs at bay.
But According to a study published in the Nutrition Journal in 2011 by researchers at the UAE University, dates were found to have a low glycemic index and do not result in significant increases in blood sugar in people with or without diabetes.
Dates have the potential to treat diabetes due to their antioxidant content. Some studies in the review indicate that dates can improve the function of the pancreas in secreting insulin, which is the hormone that helps maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Other studies indicate that dates may help with the complications of diabetes as dates are high in fiber thus the body absorbs them slowly during digestion.
In addition, fiber may help reduce the risk of conditions involving the gastrointestinal tract, such as constipation, colon cancer and ulcers
In traditional African medicine practices, people have long used dates to treat male infertility. The researchers tested the effects of dates on the fertility of rats with neurotoxin-induced infertility.
Some studies have linked regular date consumption to better thinking skills and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Scientists believe that oxidative stress plays a role in the development of certain chronic conditions. These include cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease
Dates have strong antioxidant properties with the potential to improve chronic conditions. Dates may improve skin health, skin moisture content, elasticity, and brightness. The authors also note that dates in skin care may reduce the effects of aging on the skin
During Ramadan, people eat more sweet foods. But maintaining the diet should be fruitful if following the same as usual days avoiding intake of sweets foods.
(Ranjit is an Engineer graduated from the US)