Dates have become the superfood of the moment: breakfast, lunch, and coffee sweetener. Promoted by whole food enthusiasts, this naturally dried fruit is a powerful source of minerals, energy, and fibre. Its pasta makes a natural binder in baked delicacies; its syrup adds sweetness to drinks. Eating them plain or filled, it serves as a nutritious snack.
Benefits of dates
Learn more than 20 cool things you probably didn't know about dates:
1. The word “dates” comes from the Greek word daktylos, which means “fingers”.
Nutritional properties of dates
2. A cup of dates has about 400 calories, 27 percent of the recommended daily requirement for potassium and 48 percent of the daily fibre needs.
3. They also provide calcium, zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, and other minerals that can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risks of heart attacks, and complications in childbirth.
4. Dates are rich in antioxidants known as polyphenols that fight disease caused by free radicals.
5. Very few people are allergic to this fruit.
6. Their low water level and high sugar content give them a shelf life of many months.
A resistant fruit
7. Dates make nomadic life and trade possible in the very dry and hot regions of the Middle East and North Africa.
8. Since the tree and its fruit have many applications, from food to building materials, the date palm is known as the " tree of life " in the Middle East, and is the national symbol of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
9. The seeds of the date palm can be dormant for decades until the light and water conditions are at their best.
10. Some scholars believe the actual fruit mentioned in the Garden of Eden in the Bible was a date, not an apple.
11. Dates were probably grown in present-day Iraq, about 8,000 years ago.
12. Date palms need at least 100 days of heat and plenty of water to produce the best quality fruit.
Different uses of dates
14. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs marked the years with images of complete date palms, as these trees grew 12 new leaves a year.
15. 3% of farmland is covered by date palms, producing 4 million tons of dates per year.
16. Most of the dates in the United States are grown in the Coachella Valley of California. The high temperatures and irrigation of the Colorado River make growing conditions ideal.
17. There are more than 200 varieties of dates. The large, candy-like Medjool is the most difficult type of date to grow and therefore one of the most expensive to buy.
18. While some types of dates are high in sugar (about 93 grams per cup), many varieties have a low glycemic index (GI)
19. In ancient Mesopotamia the date was considered an aphrodisiac. It is the symbol of the goddess Ishtar, prototype of Venus and Aphrodite.
20. Date palms were brought to Spain from North Africa around 800 AD. Spanish explorers brought seeds to Cuba in the 1500s. Missionaries planted them in Baja California in 1765, while other varieties were imported to California in the early 1900s.
Dates are more than a passing fad. They're versatile in the kitchen, and unless you have a sugar problem, it's a better option than a chocolate snack bar. Take advantage now that they are easy to find in the grocery store.
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