Delicious DATES (The Kind You Eat)

Health benefits of Dates

Wonderfully delicious, dates are one of the most popular fruits with an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, required for normal growth, development and overall well-being. Fresh date is made of soft, easily digestible flesh with simple sugars like fructose and dextrose that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly; thus, for these qualities, dates are being used to breakfast during Ramadan months.

The fruit is rich in dietary fiber which prevents dietary LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. It is also a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon. Dates contain many health benefitting phytonutrients flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties.

They are a good source of Vitamin-A (contains 149 IU per 100 g), which is known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for vision. Vitamin A also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Also rich in antioxidant flavonoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants have the ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen free radicals and are found to be protective against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.

Zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions; thus it offers protection against age related macular degeneration in elderly individuals. Dates are an excellent source of iron, contains 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

Also, dates are rich in potassium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that help controlling heart rate and blood pressure; thus offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases. They are also rich in minerals like calcium, manganese, copper and magnesium. Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth, and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerve impulse conduction. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is essential for bone growth.

The date fruit is rich in B-complex group of vitamins as well as vitamin K. It contains very good amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Vitamin K is essential for many coagulant factors in the blood as well as in bone metabolism.

Selection and storage

Dates are available in the store year around. Some varieties of fresh, soft, good quality dates are available from September through December. In some dry climates regions of Africa, dates are picked when they are just mature and allowed to ripen inside the jars. In the stores, soft, semi-dry and dry types of dates are put for sale. Dry dates can be kept at room temperature for several months.

Preparation and serving method

High quality dates have been handpicked directly from the bunch and sold as premium variety in the markets. On a large scale, most are harvested by cutting the entire cluster, fumigated, cleaned, graded, packed, stored under refrigeration, and released to markets according to demand.

Dreamy Delicious Velvet Chocolate Date Cake from The Cultured Cook: http://askinyourface.com/2010/12/07/simple-dreamy-chocolate-cake-with-dates-made-in-a-food-processor/

Here are some serving tips:

Dry and soft dates are usually eaten out-of-hand.

They can be stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, candied orange and cream cheese.

They can also be chopped and used with fruit salad and in a range of sweet and savory dishes.

Dates are also being used to prepare juice and Jallab (a type of syrup popular in the Middle East and made from dates, grape molasses and rose water).

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Dates (Phoenix dactylifera), medjool, Nutritive Value per 100 g (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA

Energy 277 Kcal 14%

Carbohydrates 74.97 g 58%

Protein 1.81g 3%

Total Fat 0.15 g <1%

Cholesterol 0 mg 0%

Dietary Fiber 6.7 g 18%

Vitamins

Folates 15 mcg 4%

Niacin 1.610 mg 10%

Pantothenic acid 0.805 mg 16%

Pyridoxine 0.249 mg 19%

Riboflavin 0.060 mg 4.5%

Thiamin 0.050 mg 4%

Vitamin A 149 IU 5%

Vitamin C 0 mg 0%

Vitamin K 2.7 mcg 2%

Electrolytes

Sodium 1 mg 0%

Potassium 696 mg 16%

Minerals

Calcium 64 mg 6.5%

Copper 0.362 mg 40%

Iron 0.90 mg 11%

Magnesium 54 mg 13%

Manganese 0.296 mg 13%

Phosphorus 62 mg 9%

Zinc 0.44 mg 4%

Phyto-nutrients

Carotene-ß 89 mcg –

Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 mcg –

Lutein-zeaxanthin 23 mcg –

Courtesy of www.nutrition-for-you.com

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