Health benefits of dates:
- Dates are one of the most popular fruits packed with an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are required for normal growth, development and overall well-being.
- Fresh dates compose of soft, easily digestible flesh and simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. 100 grams of mejdool dates hold 277 calories. When eaten, they replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly. For these qualities, they are being served to break the fast during Ramadan month since ancient times.
- The fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. Additionally, the fiber works as a bulk laxative. It, thus, helps to protect the colon mucous membrane from cancer-causing chemicals binding to it in the colon.
- They contain health benefiting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins are known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevent easy bleeding tendencies) properties.
- They are moderate sources of vitamin-A (contains 149 IU per 100 g), which is known to have antioxidant properties and essential for vision. Additionally, it is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A is known to help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- They compose antioxidant flavonoids such as ß-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. These antioxidants found to have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals. Thus, eating dates found to offer some protection from colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
- Zea-xanthin is an important dietary carotenoid that selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. It thus offers protection against age-related macular degeneration, especially in elderly populations.
- Dates are an excellent source of iron, carry 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
- Further, they are an excellent sources of potassium.
100 grams contains 696 mgram or 16% of daily-recommended levels of this electrolyte. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. They, thus, offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.
- Date fruits are also rich in minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth, and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse conduction. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is essential for bone growth.
- Further, the fruit has moderate levels of B-complex group of vitamins as well as
vitamin K. It contains very good amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Vitamin K is essential for many coagulant factors in the blood as well as in bone metabolism.
Info taken from: www.nutrition-and-you.com/dates.html
The History of Dates:
The date palm was considered a staple in the Judean Desert, as it was a source of food, shelter and shade for thousands of years, and became a recognized symbol of the Kingdom of Judea. It grew around the Dead Sea in the south, to the Sea of Galilee and Lake Hula regions in the north. The tree and its fruit caused Jericho to become a major population center and are praised in the Hebrew Bible possibly several times indirectly, such as in Psalm 92 ("The righteous himself will blossom forth as a palm tree does."), or date cluster mentioned in Song of Solomon 5:11; 7:7-8 Heb: tal·tal·lim′; san·sin·nim).′)
In ancient times, date palms were used for their supposed medicinal properties to cure many diseases and infections, promoting longevity and acting as a mild aphrodisiac. Modern studies have been done in an attempt to confirm their medicinal value.
Its likeness was engraved on shekalim, the ancient Hebrew unit of currency. According to historical sources, the taste of them was something splendid. Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist of the 1st century CE, wrote that Jericho's dates were known for their succulence and sweetness, though he distinguished a considerable variety of them and discussed several different varieties by name. Even in the fifth century BCE, Herodotus noted that the greatest importance of the Judean dates was that they were drier and less perishable than those from Egypt and thus suitable for storage and export, which is still an important distinction today.
When the Romans invaded ancient Judea, thick forests of date palms
up to 80 feet (24 m) high and 7 miles (11 km) wide covered the Jordan River valley from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the shores of the Dead Sea in the south. The tree so defined the local economy that Emperor Vespasian celebrated the conquest by minting the "Judaea Capta", a special bronze coin that showed the Jewish state as a weeping woman beneath a date palm. The Qur'an describes how Maryam (the Islamic parallel of Mary (mother of Jesus)) was advised to eat dates to ease her labor pains; presumably, this would have been a Judean date.
It is sometimes claimed that date growing as a commercial fruit export stopped at the end of 70 CE, when the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. However, study of contemporary sources indicates that the date industry continued in Palestine throughout the Roman period and that, indeed, the Roman Imperial treasury collected a good deal of the profits. Asaph Goor in his 21-page article History of the Date through the Ages in the Holy Land never mentions any such Roman devastation of the date palms, but rather cites numerous contemporary accounts attesting to the continuing extent of date cultivation through the Roman period. Goor only detects a decline in date cultivation through the period of Arab rule and especially during the Crusades, when he notes that the devastation of the region was particularly hard on the palm plantations. However, despite this, extensive cultivation persisted in Jericho and Zoara, until the agrarian economy collapsed around the 14th century. Goor attributes this final decline to a change in the climate, and quotes several later travelers to the area as to the rarity of date palms, including Pierre Belon, who in 1553 scoffed at the idea that the region could have ever produced the Bounty of dates reported in ancient sources.
A date palm is also featured on the ten-shekel coin of the New Israeli Shekel.
Info taken from: wikipedia