The up to 75 feet high Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) tree holds clusters of date fruit just below the palm’s fronds. In good conditions, a female Date palm can produce up to 200 lbs of fruit per year. The trees are said to have originated in the Middle East, but can now been found in the warmer climates of California and Florida. While the height of these giant trees can make harvesting the fruit a difficult task, the nutritional benefits of dates make this sweet fruit worth the climb.
Dates are great for digestion. They are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre which helps to clear out the digestive tract. They help in the prevention of constipation, colitis, hemorrhoids and colon cancer. Other benefits of dates include; promoting a healthy nervous system, preventing allergies, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of having a stroke and improving cognitive function. Dates are also a great dietary source of vitamin b6, copper, manganese, magnesium and potassium.
The sweetness of dates make them a very popular ingredient in desserts. They are commonly known for their denseness in sugar, but different types of dates have different rankings on the Glycemic Index (G.I). The Glycemic Index being a scale that ranks the effects of carbohydrate on blood sugar levels. According to a study done in the Nutritional Journal, dates of the Fara’d, Lulu, Bo ma’an, Dabbas and Khalas variety are low on the G.I scale and will not cause a spike in blood sugar. The sugar and fibre combination of dates will, however, make for a great snack pre-exercise. The slow release of the natural sugars helps promote sustainable energy that will prevent mental fatigue during a workout.
There are many ways to eat dates. Enjoy dates on their own, in savory Middle Eastern dishes, in smoothies and trail mixes, chopped up in salads or try stuffing them with something like nut butter or walnut halves.
Alkaabi, J. M., Al-Dabbagh, B., Ahmad, S., Saadi, H. F., Gariballa, S., & Ghazali, M. A. (2011). Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3112406/
Thomson, J. R. (2015, March 12). So How Exactly Do Dates Grow, Anyway? Retrieved July 31, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/how-dates-grow_n_6840464#gallery/409034/3