For thousands of years, the date has been a fruit renowned for its sweetness and its many different varieties. Dates taste fantastic, whether they’re eaten fresh off the tree or dried. But what you might not know is the incredible health benefits of dates, such as the fact that they’re packed with nutrients and fiber.
Here are just a few of the reasons why you should seriously consider making dates a staple of your dietary routine.
A Fascinating Fruit
This history of the date palm goes back to 4000 B.C., in what is now known as Iraq. Dates were critically important to the survival of the Bedouin culture, because the fruit is one of the few foods that can thrive in brutally hot, subtropical desert conditions. There, the date palm is known as the “Tree of Life.” Dates also have a long shelf life, making them ideal for storage.
Dates have a great deal of sugar, so you don’t want to make a habit out of eating tons of them every day. But as long as you eat this fruit in moderation, you should be able to reap the benefits of dates. Dates contain at least 10 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of the following:
- Vitamin B61
The Health Benefits of Dates: One After Another
Whether you eat an Ajwa date, a Medjool date, or any of the several other varieties of the fruit, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. These are just a few of the health benefits of dates that you’ll enjoy …
Supports Digestive Health
Since dates are high in fiber, they help promote the proper functioning of the digestive system. Dates contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help move waste materials efficiently through your digestive tract.
Helps Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure
The magnesium in dates can help support a healthy blood pressure by helping to relax your blood vessels. However, the mineral has also been associated with the development of bone, the production of energy, and the transportation of other essential minerals, such as potassium and calcium.2
Helps Boost Brain Health
Researchers looked at several clinical trials and concluded that having an ample supply of vitamin B6 – another important nutrient found in dates – could help improve the performance of the brain.3
Supports Muscle Health
Thanks to the potassium they contain, dates may help you maintain strong, healthy muscles. Potassium helps build proteins, helps ensure normal growth of the body, and also supports the heart’s electrical activity.4 Eating just a half a cup of dates can provide you with up to 15 percent (696 mg) of the recommended daily amount of this extremely important mineral.5 Adults should get between 3,500-4,700 mg of potassium each day.6
Researchers looked at certain types of dates to determine what types of antioxidant properties they may have. The found that the Khasab, Khala, and Fard varieties of the fruit are high in two important antioxidants, carotenoids and anthocyanins. However, they also found that all dates provide antioxidant benefits.7
Different Kinds of Dates and Their Uses
It’s interesting just how varied this fruit can be. These are some of the most common types of dates available:
Saidy – This is an exceptionally sweet version of the fruit that is very popular in Libya. The Saidy variety thrives in hot conditions.
Barhi – Native to Iraq, the Barhi date is typically amber in color and has a thicker covering than most other varieties.
Medjool – Medjool dates come from Morocco. They are larger than normal and taste somewhat like toffee.
Migraf – Migraf dates have a golden amber hue and are also larger than other types.
Halawy – Halawy dates are also native to Iraq. They are extremely sweet and are often times smaller than other varieties.
Dates offer nearly endless possibilities when it comes to cooking. You can use them in dishes as varied as cheesecake, granola, ice cream, and even peanut butter pie. And since they’re so sweet, you can substitute them for sugar in a variety of delicious recipes while still enjoying their health benefits.
You can stuff dates with walnuts, cashews, almonds, or even cheese, make them into a nutritious juice, or bake them in cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. Chopped dates are great in salads or even on pasta, and many people puree the fruit and use it as a sauce for chicken and fish dishes.
Rather than rushing out to the store and stocking up on dates, buy a small amount of the fruit, and gradually introduce it into your diet. Enjoy them as a quick pick-me-up afternoon treat or a post-workout snack. Or pair them with nuts for a hearty, healthy breakfast. Again, though, go slow. Dates are loaded with fiber, and you don’t want to overdo it.
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