Dates

Benefits of dates

DatesMany people know dates as being the fruit which is often consumed in the Mediterranean. Dates are the fruits of the date palm tree. Dates are probably one of the oldest cultivates types of fruit in the world. For many countries in the Middle East, dates are considered part of the staple diet. Besides the fact that they are sweet, they also provide many health benefits as will be addressed in this article.

Description

Although dates are originally from the Mediterranean, they are now widely available all over the world. The name “date” is actually a term which stems from the Old French language. The scientific name for dates is Dactylifera. Both the Old French name as well as the scientific name originally come from the Greek term “daktulos”. This word in Greek means “finger”. Dates have been named after this term because of the elongated shape they have. More specifically, their shape can be described to be oval-cylindrical. Dates can have different measurements as well as different colors. Most dates grow to become between three to seven centimeters large. Their diameter usually ranges between two to three centimeter. The color of dates is dependent on a few factors. For example, not only is the color dependent on the type of date but also how ripe it is. Most dates, however, range in color from red to bright yellow. The middle of the fruit contains a single stone. This stone usually is about two to two-and-a-half centimeters long. Its thickness commonly varies between 6-8 millimeter.

Different types of dates

There are three main types of dates. They can be distinguished by being soft, semi-dry or dry. The type of date is dependent on the content of fructose, glucose and sucrose which can be found in dates. Naturally, dates are wind pollinated. However, traditionally and in the current commercial orchards they are usually pollinated manually. The pollination is done by laborers on ladders. In some cases, a wind machine is used. There are also areas where special climbing tools are used to pollinate the dates. This is because the date palm tree are large for which they need special material since a ladder will not be able to reach the top of the tree. In this case, the laborer will attach himself to the trunk while climbing up the tree. There are also dates which are seedless. The seedless dates are commonly referred to as parthenocarpic cultivars. The seedless dates are, however, smaller in size compared to dates with a seed. Also, these dates are often also considered to be of lower quality in relation to those dates which do have seeds.

Ripening process

Dates ripe in four stages. The names given to the various stages of the ripening process are in Arabic since the majority of dates come from Arab countries. The first stage is known as “kimri”. This is the stage whereby the date is fully unripe. The second stage is called “khlal”. During this stage the date has achieved its full size but it is still very crunchy. The third stage is known as “rutab”. This stage implies that the date is ripe and is starting to become  more soft. The last stage of the ripening process is called “tamr”. This is the stage whereby the date is fully ripe and is also sun-dried. The dates which are sold have reached this stage. Dates are considered to be an important crop in Iraq and North Africa. The fruit is also mentioned in the Qur’an and the Bible. In the Islamic culture, dates and milk are the first two items to be consumed during Iftar in the time of Ramadan. Iftar is the time when the sun has set. While the majority of the dates in the world come from the Mediterranean region, there are also dates which are cultivated in the United States. For example, Arizona, southern Florida and southern California are states were dates are widely cultivated. Dates are also cultivated in parts of Mexico. Especially Baja California and Sonora are known for being areas where dates are widely cultivated. After date palms have been planted, it can take a long time before their bear fruits. It can take up to eight years for the palm to produce dates. However, once the date palms are mature, they can produce up to 150 kilograms of dates per harvest season. The dates usually do not all ripe at the same time. Often several harvests are needed in order to all the dates to be ripe. It is also the case that not all dates are marketable quality.


History

Dates are considered to be a staple food in the Middle East as well as in the Indus Valley. It has been part of the diet for thousands of years. Archeological evidence suggests that the first date of cultivation goes back until 6000 BC. This first cultivation is said to have taken place in the eastern parts of Arabia. This area is currently known as Iraq, where dates still play a big role today. Dates are also assumed to have been cultivated around the region of Egypt. This is due to the fact that dates were used by the ancient Egyptians around 4000 BC. The ancient Egyptians ate the dates at harvest and they also used them to make date wine. There has also been evidence that suggests that the cultivation of dates also took place in Mehrgarh around 7000 BC. The community which lived here was called the Neolithic civilization. This area is now known as western Pakistan. More evidence was found later. This evidence suggested that civilizations in the Indus Valley had also been consuming dates. This is estimated to be during the Harappan period which lasted from 2600 to 1900 BC. Dates were later spread to various parts of the world by traders. Traders introduced dates in Spain and South West Asia. The Spaniards were the ones who introduced dates in California and Mexico around the 1750s. Moreover, various fossil records show that the date palm has existed for many years. It is estimated that the date palm has been around for more than 50 million years.

Health benefits of dates

Besides the fact that dates often serve as a sweet snack, they are also a source of healthy nutrients and vitamins. One of the health benefits of dates is that they can help with constipation. Dates are known for being a laxative food. It is for this reason that they are often consumed by people who have problems with their digestive system. If you want to achieve the desired laxative effect, it is recommended to soak the dates in water over night. You should then eat the soaked dates in the morning as if you are having syrup. You will slowly start to notice a difference in your digestive system. Moreover, dates also have high levels of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is important for having healthy bowel movements. Also, it also contributes to food passing through the intestinal tract comfortably. Thus, also fiber contributes to helping problems such as constipation. Another benefit of dates on the digestive system is that is can help to cure various kinds of intestinal disorders. Consuming dates on a regular basis helps to inhibit the growth of harmful organisms. Also, it helps to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines. Dates also contain a high number of amino acids. Amino acids are also said to have a positive effect on the digestive system. The amino acids help the digestive tract to absorb more nutrients. Another health benefit of dates is that they contribute to the health and strength of bones in our body. Dates are a source of minerals. The minerals which are present in dates make it one of the super-foods in the world. Dates also help to fight diseases such as osteoporosis. Some of the minerals which can be found in dates are manganese, copper, magnesium and selenium. All these minerals are considered to be important in the healthy development of bones. Dates are especially recommended for older people because their bones gradually become weaker. While dates contain a high number of minerals, they contain an impressive level of iron. This makes them a perfect supplement for people who suffer from anemia. Dates help to balance the lack of iron in the body and helps to increase strength and energy. The iron in dates can also contribute to decreased levels of fatigue.

Additional health benefits of dates

Another interesting fact about dates is that it is a source of organic sulfur. Organic sulfur is not an element which is commonly found in foods. However, sulfur provides many health benefits to the human body. One of the health benefits of sulfur is that it can help to reduce allergic reaction and allergies which occur seasonally.  A study which was conducted in 2002 found that sulfur can have a positive effect on people who suffer from SAR. SAR stands for Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis. Only in the United States, there are more than twenty million people who suffer from SAR. While dates might not completely help to relieve all the symptoms of an allergic reactions, they can contribute to making the allergic reactions less intense. In general it is good to incorporate dates in your diet. This is because they contain a good balance of proteins, sugar and many essential vitamins. They can help to keep your weight steady and at a balanced level. If you want to gain weight since you want to add muscles, it is definitely recommended to consume dates. This is because one kilogram of dates contain almost 3000 calories. Thus, this means that dates can help to meet the daily requirement of calories for a human body. Of course, dates should be eaten in moderation since over-consumption of dates can lead to weight gain as well. Moreover since dates are naturally high is sugar such as fructose, glucose and sucrose, they also provide an energy boost. Before you start working out, dates serve as a perfect snack. Many people consume dates as a quick snack when they are starting to feel tired or lethargic.

Use of dates

You can buy different kinds of dates. You can buy them with a seed, filled with pecans, almonds or walnuts. Some stores also sell dates filled with marzipan, cream cheese or lemon peel. Dried pitted dates can also be found with a glucose syrup cover. Besides the fact that they can be eaten out-of-hand, dates are also used in a wide variety of dishes worldwide. For example, dates are often used in Moroccan tagines. In stores you will also be able to find date nut breads, date which have been processed to paste or vinegar which is made from dates. The latter is a traditional products which is made in the Middle East. It is also possible to dehydrate dates. Dates which are dehydrated are often ground and mixed with grains to make stock-feed.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1620x
Added: 11-02-2017 22:19
Last modified: 04-05-2017 21:26

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