It’s quite ok to have a date, whatever your age, whatever the situation! Yes, dates are quite healthy, and one should try to include them in the diet plan (Of course, we are referring to the edible dates, also called khajur, which is part of the dry fruit category. Also, this being Ramadan month, dates is one of the most popular foods that are served as part of the Iftars. They are a form of natural sweeteners. So much so, many desserts are prepared using them, without any added sugar.
Dates are said to be from Iran, though it is now available and consumed across the world. Date Palms in the deserts are a pleasant sight, and they usually grow in clusters. The top date producing nations currently are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Algeria, Iraq etc. Dates are considered a staple food in the Middle East, and its cultivation seems to date back to the 6th millennium BCE. There are different varieties of dates available in the market now, and each varies in its taste and texture.
What is of interest is that it is a quite nutritious fruit, especially when dried. It contains a lot of fibre and essential Vitamins and minerals that are good for our health. Dates have always been known for the rich concentration of antioxidants in them, which can help us prevent and combat a lot of infections. We never thought that something as sweet that people eat it as a dessert could also be healthy. But of course, you need to know that it needs to be taken in moderation!
As already mentioned, dates are a powerhouse of antioxidants that protects human body cells from damage to oxidative stress from free radicals. Also, the carotenoids contained in dates help reduce eye-related disorders, mainly due to macular degeneration. The flavonoids present in dates have anti-inflammatory properties, and they reduce the chances of diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc. Even the Phenolic acid in dates have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the risk of cancer and help with heart issues.
Sustaining bone strength is one of the biggest challenges that ageing people face. Issues like arthritis and osteoporosis can hamper the mobility of people badly, and they may also be prone to fractures. The healing also takes longer in such cases. Hence, eating foods rich in minerals that provide bone strength and keep them healthy is important.
Dates are good for bones as they have Copper, Selenium, and Magnesium in abundance. They also contain the essential Vitamin K that helps regulate the coagulation of blood that helps in bone metabolism. Especially for post-menopausal women, the Potassium in dates can be beneficial in this aspect by protecting the bone mass.
Anything sweet should be bad for diabetics, is a general idea that we have when it comes to diet. However, what should be looked at is the glycemic index of a food, and dates have a low glycemic index. What it means is that it will slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood. Dates are also rich in fibre which is said to help in this as it slows down digestion. The fibre also aids in bowel movements and preventing constipation.
Besides, there is enough evidence from research that also suggests that dates helpful in regulating blood sugar levels. Interestingly, components in dates can also help increase the production of insulin in the body. These can also prevent you from getting diabetes as the absorption rate in the intestines is also reduced. Overall, it can be considered a diabetic-friendly food.
Dates come with anti-ageing factors that prevent the accumulation of melanin. Additionally, the Vitamin C and D present in dates helps maintain the elasticity of your skin, keeping it young. Funnily, most dates, especially the dried ones, come with wrinkled skin but may help keep your skin free from wrinkles.
The carotenoids present in dates help keep your heart healthy; some studies have shown that consumption of dates can reduce chances of heart diseases by as much as 7%. The antioxidants in dates prevent the formation of atherosclerosis, thus help reduce cardiac issues.
Another aspect that can trouble the ageing population is the worsening of brain health and the resulting cognitive loss. Studies have shown that dates can lower inflammatory markers in the brain; these are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies have also found that dates prevent the formation of plaques in the brain that again contributes to cognitive loss. This is mainly due to the anti-inflammatory properties mentioned earlier. Also, the choline and Vitamin B in dates helps learning and memory functions.
Apart from this, there are a few other benefits not listed here; what is important is that what we know suggests that dates are a good source of a lot of essential stuff that helps us stay healthy.