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The sweet fruit of history: Dates through the ages.

Dates are an ancient superfood with cultural ties throughout history and worldwide. The date palm tree is believed to have originated in Iraq with its fruit used by the Egyptians for food, medicine, and building. The establishment of trade routes expanded the reach of dates with supplies now coming from over 30 countries, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa (Admin, 2023). This article will look at dates as a superfood and their medicinal properties.

Dates are well known for their high carbohydrate content mostly in the form of sugars, but as highlighted by (Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi & Chang Yong Lee, 2008), there is a lack of information about dates as a functional food. The comprehensive article outlined the nutritional content of Dates and summarised the role of dates in health. Per 100g dates have a high carbohydrate content compared to their fat content; on average 80.6g in proportion to 0.38g. Dates provide a lot of energy at an average of 314 Kcal per one hundred grams. However, when compared to other fruits these figures are more impressive. When compared to plums, apricots, figs, peaches, and raisins, dates have a fat content of 0.4g whilst other fruits have a combined average of 0.6g. Comparing this to carbohydrate and energy content shows that dates have 80.6g and 314Kcal whilst other fruits have 66.18g and 253.6Kcal respectively. From this, it’s clear that dates give you more bang for your buck.

The superpower of dates; The amazing mineral content! These gems are rich in selenium, copper, potassium, and magnesium at 0.31mg, 0.24mg, 713mg, and 64.2mg respectively on average. Selenium is a coenzyme for an antioxidant enzyme, and its recommended daily intake is 0.055mcg (one date is approximately 8g as stated by (Cervoni, 2022)). We’ll later discuss the importance of antioxidants in health along with the high dietary fibre present in the carbohydrate content. Another important mineral to consider is the iron content of an average of 0.83mg which contributes towards managing iron and folate deficiencies. A unique aspect of dates is their high potassium levels coupled with their proportionally low sodium levels. (Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi & Chang Yong Lee, 2008) (Vayalil, 2012)

My research has shown that the main benefits date provides to our health are its dietary fibre, sugar, and antioxidative compound content. Dietary fibre is vital for good gastrointestinal health and good bowel movement. Dates can often have a laxative effect, consequently improving bowel movement in those with bloating or irregular bowel movements. (Vayalil, 2012) Talks about how dates could be used as a nutritional therapy for preventing and managing diabetes due to its high sugar content and antioxidative compounds like selenium, retinol, and ascorbic acid. Her article looks at a range of studies which showed lower glucose levels in diabetic and non-diabetic subjects post-date consumption. Even lower glucose levels were found in studies where subjects had a meal of dates and yoghurt. Although more research needs to be done, dates could provide a great option for diabetics or anyone with hyperglycaemia. Antioxidative compounds are also important in preventing chronic illnesses like dementia, ageing, and cancer prevention by reducing oxidative stress on organs. (Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi & Chang Yong Lee, 2008)

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