Dates are Great….the fruit that is…not the going out with another person sort of date. I mean I’m sure that can be great too, but that’s not what this blog’s about.
The Date is the fruit of the date palm, thought to originate in Iraq, but now grown all over the world, from Australia to Spain, from China to America. Not surprising that it has spread so far when you know that it has been cultivated for at least 8000 years and even appears in fossil records from 50 Million years ago!
Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80% so it is pretty high on the Glycemic Index (between 30 and 50 depending on the type of date). That doesn’t make them particularly healthy, but it does make them a great ingredient in cakes where they can be used as a substitute for refined sugars. Banana and Date loaf is a classic ‘healthy’ cake and is ideal for using up browning bananas.The rest of the date consists of protein, fibre, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Having enough fibre in your diet can help to maintain a healthy gut. It is believed that one of the causes of colon cancer is that food has too slow a transit time in the gut leaving the the colon to interact with carcinogens for a longer period. Low levels of dietary fibre also lead to constipation and bloating as well as making it uncomfortable to go to the toilet. During times of life when constipation is more likely e.g. during pregnancy, it may be a good idea to increase your fibre intake, and adding dates to your diet is an easy way to do this.
There has also been a study which suggested that eating dates in the final four weeks of pregnancy has positive effects regarding labour. Women who had six dates daily were compared to women who did not eat dates. The date-consuming group had greater mean cervical dilation, higher proportion of intact membranes, higher proportion of spontaneous labour and shorter latent phase of labour.
Dates have even been suggested as a healthy and delicious way to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body, which is a major contributing factor heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke. Therefore, when taken twice a week, dates can seriously improve the overall health of the heart.
I hope you enjoy your dates this week – fruity or otherwise 🙂