Dates: Varieties of Dates, Top Ten Health Benefits, and Side Effects
Dates are the Best Natural Sweets!
Dates are the best sweets I have enjoyed eating!! I always think we should eat dates just like that and not mix it with some ghee or sugar to make desserts. The original taste of the date fruit is exquisite. It is a powerhouse of essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and zinc. It is a storehouse of vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
Varieties of Dates
There are many varieties of dates. But, you can find 6-7 popular varieties that are abundantly available in the market. For a common man, it looks like there are only 6-7 varieties. However, there are many more varieties of dates in the world.
1. Ajwa dates:
Ajwa dates are considered as the 'Prophet's favorite'. They are popularly known as 'King of Dates.' They are softer and drier in texture, eating of which has many health benefits, mainly it increases immunity.
2.Deglet Nour dates:
Deglet Nour dates are exported from Algeria and Tunisia. About 90% of Deglet Nour produced in the world are from these two countries. Southern EU countries mainly consume this variety of dates. The rest 10% of this variety is from Israel and The United States. There is a great demand for this variety of unprocessed dates in Southern EU countries. Whereas, Germany and UK people like processed dates.
3. Common dates:
This is the name commonly used by the European traders to classify dates that are neither Deglet nor Medjool. This group includes many varieties such as Kenta, Alligh, Sayer, and Zahedi. UK and Germany are the greatest importers of these dates. These dates are comparatively less priced than the high-quality dates such as Medjool and Deglet Nour. The common dates are extensively used in food industries.
Diversified and non-traditional varieties:
a. Medjool: This is one of the most expensive and popular varieties of dates. These dates are found in the main European markets. Importing of Medjool dates is uncommon. The United States and Israel produce Medjool dates abundantly. In the United States, date palm groves are located in California, to be specific, in the two areas of Bard valley and Coachella valley. They export dates to European countries. Israelian Medjool dates are less expensive due to lower export costs.
Medjool dates come in three sizes: jumbo, large, and medium(fancy). They have the best degree of maturity and full flavor when it turns dark brown, almost black, and soft to touch. They are called as 'queen of dates'.
b. Hayani dates: These dates are distinct from other dates in its form, texture, taste, and storage characteristics. It is the familiar variety in Israel. Hayani date is always firm and is fresh fruit in its own right.
There are two sizes of Hayani dates; jumbo, and standard.
c. Bahri dates: The Bahri variety date is exported and sold as fresh produce by Israel. These dates are named after the hot Arabian winds called 'Barh'. They are medium-sized, thin-skinned fruits with soft, tender flesh and syrupy flavor.
4. Zahidi dates: These dates are semi-soft dates called 'nobility'. It has a large seed and crunchy fibrous flesh. It is often processed for sliced dates and date sugar products.
5. Organic dates: Some farmers have diversified into organic production of dates. Israel and Tunisia export certified organic dates to the European countries. Germany is the main market for organic dates. Even, The United States produces organic dates (including Medjool).
Sum up: I believe there are numerous varieties of dates. A few varieties are called by different names in different countries. Whatever the variety, each one is nutrient-rich and delicious.
Images of a few Popular Varieties of Dates
Health Benefits Of Dates:
Dates have a unique, ideal ratio of sugar, fat, and minerals. An article published in 2003 by The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition explains how dates can be the best food of the future. They contain at least 15 essential minerals, 14 types of beneficial fatty acids, and a high percentage of carbohydrates.
Nomads in the desert have used dates in traditional health remedies for thousands of years. They used dates for treating memory problems, nervous disorders, fever, paralysis, and inflammation, etc. Other dates based remedies include treatment of asthma, sexually transmitted infections, liver issues, alcohol detoxification, sore throat, and intestinal disorders.
More Information on Health Benefits:
1. Dates are wonderful fruits that are not only sweet and delicious but also packed with high- quality essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are needed for normal growth and overall well-being.
2. Fresh dates have a soft, easily digestible flesh containing simple sugars such as fructose and dextrose. 100 gm of Medjool date contains 277 calories. Immediately after eating the fruit, they replenish energy and revitalize the body. For the same reason, dates are consumed while breaking the fast during Ramadan month since ancient times.
3. They contain health benefitting polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannin is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, anti-hemorrhagic (prevent instant bleeding) properties.
4. Dates are rich in fiber that prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. In addition to that, the fiber works as a bulk laxative. This way, it helps to prevent the colon mucous membrane from cancer-causing chemical binding inside the colon.
5. Dates contain a moderate quantity of vitamin A which is known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for the eyesight. Also, it is required to maintain healthy mucous membranes and skin. Eating natural fruits like dates having vitamin A is known to protect from oral and lung cancer.
6. Dates are an excellent source of iron. Iron is a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
7. Eating dates protect from the colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung and pancreatic cancers. The reason for this is, dates have antioxidant flavonoids like B-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. They are known to have the capacity to protect cells in the body from the harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals.
8. It is a good source of potassium. They contain daily recommended levels of this electrolyte. Potassium is known to be an important component of cell and body fluids that regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, dates protect against stroke and coronary heart diseases.
9. Date fruits also contain abundant calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Calcium is an important mineral, an essential component of bone and teeth. It is required for blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse activities. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells, magnesium is essential for bone growth.
10. Dates have vitamin K. It contains a good amount of pyridoxine(vitamin B-6), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These vitamins are helpful in the body metabolizing carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Vitamin K is known to be important for many coagulant factors in blood and bone metabolism.
Nutritional Information of Dates:
A date weighs about 25 gm.
According to USDA nutritional database,100gm of Medjool date has,
277 k calories
75 gm- carbohydrate
6.7 gm- fiber
1.8 gm- protein
0.1 mg- thiamin
0.1 mg- riboflavin
1.6 mg- niacin
0.8 mg- pantothenic acid
0.2 mg- pyridoxine/B6
15 ug- folate
2.7 ug- vitamin K
64 mg- calcium
0.4 mg- copper
0.9 mg- iron
54 mg- magnesium
0.3 mg- manganese
62 mg- phosphorous
696 mg- potassium
0.4 mg- zinc
Opinion of the Scientific community on dates:
The Scientific community has proved the medicinal benefits of dates.
- In 2005, a study published by The Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that date possesses anti-ulcer properties.
- A 2005 study by Carbohydrate Polymers indicates that the date shows anti-cancer activity.
- A 2008 study published by the Scientific Journal of King Faisal University found that dates have anti-diarrheal property.
- The Iranian Journal of Pharmacological Research published a study showing the hepatoprotective benefits of date consumption.
- A 2004 study published by the Polish Journal of Food And Nutritional Sciences indicates that date extracts may alleviate arthritic pain.
- Many studies have indicated that regular consumption of dates improves male fertility level.
- In 2006, a study published in the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences indicates that eating dates improved mice's motility, sperm count, and DNA quality.
- In 2005, a study from the Journal of King Saud University found that dates reduced plasma lipid levels, triglycerides, and LDL in hamsters, showing possible atherosclerosis benefits.
- Studies published by the World Intellectual Property Organization found that date extracts significantly improved skin health by lessening wrinkles, fine lines, toughness, and dark pigmentation.
Storage of Dates:
Dry dates can stay fresh for many months, at room temperature if stored in an airtight container. You have to place the container in a cool place. Moist or syrupy dates can be stored in a refrigerator or in a freezer, in a container for longer freshness and usage. Bring it to the room temperature before using.
Side Effects of Eating Too Many Dates:
Elders say, 'too much' of anything has always bad effects. Similarly, eating too many dates regularly has certain bad effects. They are:
- might cause tooth decay.
- could lead to stomach disorder.
- can increase blood sugar levels.
- can cause bloating.
- congestion and heaviness in the chest and lungs.
- can aid in weight gain.
- A high level of potassium is bad for health.
- can cause abdominal pain.
- might cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
- wax-coated dates are dangerous for consumption.
- might cause constipation.
- It can hamper the absorption of nutrients.
As per a study conducted by Colorado State University, dietary fiber found in dates bind with the nutrients like vitamins and minerals present in the body and result in the elimination of the essential vitamins and minerals from our body in the form of feces.
Moderate consumption of dates regularly has fantastic health benefits. Daily eating of 3-4 number of dates along with a glass of milk keeps your immune system strong. Due to the abundant nutrients, minerals, and fiber, dates help in building and maintaining good health.