From the time it was discovered, which was thousands of years ago, dates were known to have healing powers. And while science has proved that for sure, we love to eat them mostly because of how delicious these dark fruits are. According to history, date palm is known to have come from what is now Iraq, however Egyptians were known to have made wine with dates a lot earlier as well.
Thanks to trade, dates traveled to southwest Asia, Spain, northern Africa, and were later also taken to Mexico and California. Today it continues to be one of the most important ingredients in Middle Eastern cuisine. While there are at least 30 kinds of dates that are found around the world, they pretty much fall under three broad types – soft, semi-dry, and dry, and the differentiation is made according to the glucose, sucrose, and fructose content.
One of the most coveted dates incidentally are found at The Gaza Strip, as their produce is known to be exceptionally red, and sweet. Some of the other popular varietals are the Zaghloul, found exclusively in Egypt. It has a dark red skin, is longish in structure, and crunchy in texture. It’s also quite high on the sweetness scale. The Sukkary from Saudi Arabia is one of the most expensive kinds of dates. It has a dark brown skin, a soft flesh, and uniquely sweet. And then there’s the Khadrawy, a soft and dark date that’s also quite popular among the Arabs. And this is just the beginning; it’s said that Iraq has more than 100 kinds of dates available!
Sweet Health Dose
Cuisines across the world use dates in small and large quantities, but it’s also important to note that the fruit of the date palm tree also comes with a lot of health benefits. Dates are a good source of various vitamins and minerals, energy, sugar, and fiber. It also contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
Here are only a few of the reasons why you should eat dates regularly:
1. Lowers cholesterol: Did you know that dates are free from cholesterol, and contain very little fat? Including them in smaller quantities in your daily diet can help you keep a check on cholesterol level, and even assist in weight loss.
2. Protein rich: Dates are a strong source for proteins that help us in staying fit, and even keep our muscles strong. A lot of regular gym goers are asked to eat a couple of dates every day as part of their daily routine.
3. Rich in vitamins: Dates contain vitamins such as B1, B2, B3 and B5, as well as A1 and C. If you have a few dates every day, you won’t have to take vitamin supplements. Not only will it keep you healthy, there will be a noticeable change in your energy levels as well because dates contain natural sugars such as glucose, sucrose, and fructose, too. So it works really well as a quick snack.
4. Improves bone health: Dates are rich in selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, and all of these are required when it comes to keeping our bones healthy, and preventing conditions such as osteoporosis.
5. Strengthens the nervous system: Date are loaded with potassium, and yet contain little sodium, and that goes a long way in keeping your nervous system in order. The potassium helps to reduce cholesterol, and keeps the risk of a stroke in check.
6. Rich in iron: Apart from the fluorine that keeps your teeth healthy, dates also contain iron, which is highly recommended for those who suffer from iron deficiency. Plus it’s great for blood purification as well.
7. Promotes digestion: If you soak a few dates in water and chew on them daily, your digestive system will behave itself very well. Plus it’s recommended for those who have trouble with constipation.
8. Improves skin: The vitamins C and D works on your skin’s elasticity, and also keeps your skin smooth. Plus, if you suffer from skin problems, incorporating dates into your diet might help you in the long run. Plus dates also come with anti-ageing benefits, and prevent the accumulation of melanin in your body.
9. Fixes hangovers: While we haven’t exactly tried it out, but it’s said that dates are an excellent way to control inebriation. And similarly, it also helps to cure hangovers. But for best results, you have to rub the skin a bit, and soak it in water overnight and then eat it.
10. Assists in weight gain: The sugar, proteins, and other vitamins in the fruit help in weight gain, especially when you need it. Incidentally, it’s said that when eaten with cucumber, dates help to keep your weight at a normal level. Now that’s what we call flexibility!
Cooking with Dates
Dates are best eaten by themselves. The sweet fruit makes for an excellent breakfast snack, or in cereals and porridges. Plenty of people have even switched to date syrup instead of refined sugar. Jaggery made from date palm tastes delicious with black coffee, and dried dates can be added to cakes, bread, and other dishes. Keep a box of seeded or seedless dates in your refrigerator, and make sure to have a few every day. It will also prevent you from overeating.