What Are Dates?
Dates, also known as Phoenix dactylifera, or date palm, are a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae. They are cultivated for their edible sweet fruit. Dates originate from the Middle Eastern area of Iraq. They`re packed with vitamins and minerals, and they have loads of health benefits. Let`s get talking!
Health Benefits of Dates
Dates are used as a laxative to relieve constipation. You may soak them overnight to make them more beneficial for this purpose. Dates work excellently as natural laxatives because they contain soluble fiber that absorbs water in the intestinal tract. The fiber content also hydrates hardened feces and brings about a free passage.
Contain Vitamin A
Dates contain high amounts of vitamin A, making them fit for people who have vitamin A deficiency or suffer night blindness. Dates also delay macular degeneration and generally give better vision.
Control Cholesterol Levels
The Hallawi variety of dates reduces blood cholesterol levels. It contains catechins in high amounts. Catechins are the compounds in tea that reduce cholesterol. Hallawi dates reduce levels of unhealthy cholesterol, hence reduce the risk of atherosclerotic deposits increasing in blood vessels. Considering these, it is correct to say that Hallawi dates reduce the risk of heart disease.
Control Blood Pressure
Dates contain high potassium levels and low sodium levels. High amounts of sodium is a major cause of high blood pressure. However, potassium, which dates contain in large proportion, aids sodium excretion. This goes a long way in regulating blood pressure and blood volume.
Nourish Intestinal Microbiome
The intestines have loads of micro-organisms in them, and many of them are essential for the breakdown of nutrients, and other health benefits. Unfortunately, diseases and some medications suppress these micro-organisms. To ensure that these healthy bacteria (the micro-organisms) are in good state, healthy nutrition is vital. This is why you should consume dates; they contain soluble fiber which nourishes the intestinal bacteria. This is great for digestion, the immune system, and some other key areas of your health.
Dates contain simple sugar in high amounts. These sugars are in the form of glucose and fructose, which the body utilizes for energy. When you consume dates before exercise or any strenuous activity, your brain and muscles get enough energy to perform excellently.
Regular consumption of dates enriches you with iron, helping you prevent iron deficiency, hence also preventing anemia.
Treat Sexual Dysfunction
Dates contain estradiol and flavonoid which boost sperm count and motility. Some studies even claim that date palm pollen treats infertility. To use dates to treat sexual issues, soak a handful of dates in fresh goat milk overnight, then grind them in the milk with a mixture of honey and cardamom powder. Please note that it is pertinent to consult a doctor before doing this, to be sure it is the right treatment for your condition.
Preserve Cognitive Health
As people get closer to old age, their chances of degeneration of brain tissues increase as a result of inflammation and some other factors. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if the effects of cortisol and other oxidants are put in check. You can trust dates to do this. In the long run, dates prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s syndrome.
Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is usually as a result of factors ranging from inflammation, bowel movements, the health condition of the intestine, and some other factors. Dates nourish intestinal bacteria and decrease the body’s inflammatory response. Dates also bring about the reduction of colon polyp, which may turn cancerous if not controlled.
Support Prenatal Health
Dates are quite high in calories, and they supply folic acid in high amounts. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects and ensures the healthy development of the fetal brain. Daily consumption of dates is necessary for prenatal health support.
Improve Bone Health
Dates enrich you with calcium and vitamin K. These are necessary for bone health; vitamin K is particularly necessary for blood clotting and bone mineralization. That’s not all, as dates contain magnesium, which is vital for bone structure.
Keep the Skin Healthy
Dates contain carotenoid antioxidants which preserve the skin and serve as UV light reflectors to block the damage the sun causes to the skin. These antioxidants also protect the skin from anti-aging effects, leaving your skin looking dazzling.
Relieve Symptoms of SAR
Dates relieve the symptoms of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, a condition characteristic of allergic reactions to airborne allergens like grass, dust, and animal dander. Did you know that SAR affects over 30 million people in America?
Side Effects of Dates
When dried fruits have sulfites in them, they cause skin rashes. Dates, many times, contain sulfites, hence they may cause skin rashes.
If not for sulfite that people add to dates, we wouldn’t have abdominal issues to worry about. This chemical compound — sulfites — are used to preserve dried fruits, and kill harmful bacteria in them.
Unfortunately, some people are sensitive to sulfite and may have reactions such as bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
People who already consume foods that provide sources of fiber may also have abdominal issues when they consume dates, as that would be excess of fiber in their system because dates are rich in fiber.
Risk of Hyperkalemia
When there are excessively high levels of potassium in the blood, we say one suffers hyperkalemia. Dates are rich in potassium, hence an excessive consumption may lead to hyperkalemia.
Blood potassium levels should normally be between 3.6 and 5.2 millimoles per liter. People with already high potassium levels should avoid eating dates.
Dates contain fructose. Some people don`t digest fructose easily, hence they have abdominal pain. If you experience this, you might want to avoid eating dates.
Could Harm the Digestive System
Dates have a wax coating, just as some other fruits do. The wax on fruits makes them look more appealing, and help them remain fresh for a long time. Dates sometimes have petroleum wax or chemical spray on them, which can be dangerous to the digestive system.
Risk of Weight Gain
Dates are high in fiber and calories, making them cause weight gain, especially in individuals who already have the tendency to gain some extra weight quickly.
Unhealthy for Infants
Babies have difficulty chewing dates. Also, their intestines are not developed enough for the digestion. In some cases, dates block the windpipe of infants. As much as possible, avoid feeding infants with dates.
Some Facts about Dates
- Date trees are about 69 to 75 feet in height, while the leaves are about 13 to 20 feet long.
- Fossil records show that date palms are over 50 million years old.
- Date palm seeds can be dormant for decades until they have adequate light and water.
- Majority of dates in America are grown in California`s Coachella Valley.
- Ancient Mesopotamians regarded dates as an aphrodisiac.
- Dates were commonly found in Roman peristyle gardens.
- Dates last long because of their low water and high sugar contents.
- Date palm is called the “tree of life” in the Middle East, due to its versatility: it is useful for food and for making building materials.
Now That You Know…
Are dates perfect for your health? Why not start enjoying these amazing health benefits already? Remember that moderation is key.