Some days back, a dear sister of mine sent me a picture of something she bought from an Hausa man, ate but didn’t know the name. She asked if I knew but I didn’t. She found out what the name was from someone else and I discovered I had eaten it before too when I got a clearer picture. Very nutritious but I never paid attention to it. Its called DATES.
Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. They contain vitamins A and K. Vitamin A protects the eyes, maintains healthy skin and mucus membranes, and even protects the lungs and mouth from developing cancer. Tannins, which are flavonoids as well as polyphenolic antioxidants, fight infection and inflammation and help prevent excessive bleeding (anti-hemorrhagic). Vitamin K is a blood coagulant that also helps metabolize your bones.
Copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin are also present in dates and provide their own unique preventive and healing functions.
Together, these cofactors help your body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Eating dates in moderation can contribute to many health benefits, such as protecting against damage to cells from free radicals, helping preventing a stroke, coronary heart disease and the development of colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
Specific Health Benefits
1. . Promoting Digestive Health, Relieving Constipation – Fiber is essential for promoting colon health and making for regular bowel movements. The insoluble and soluble fiber found in dates help to clean out the gastrointestinal system, allowing the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency. Some other benefits relating to fiber and colon health are reduced risks of colitis, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids. (Dates could even be coupled with other home remedies for hemorrhoids.)
2. Boosting Heart Health – In addition to promoting colon health, fiber is also known to boost heart health.
3. Anti-Inflammatory – Dates are rich in magnesium – a mineral known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. One study found that “inflammatory indicators in the body such as CRP (C-reactive protein), TNF (tumor necrosis factor alpha), and IL6 (interleukin 6) were all reduced when magnesium intake was increased.” Further, inflammation in the arterial walls was also reduced with magnesium intake. Based on magnesium’s anti-inflammatory properties and the findings of this study, magnesium can effectively reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-related health ailments.
4. Reduced Blood Pressure – Magnesium has been shown to help lower blood pressure – and again, dates are full of the mineral. Additionally, potassium is another mineral in dates that has several functions within the body, aiding with the proper workings of the heart and helping to reduce blood pressure.
5. Reduced Stroke Risk – After evaluating 7 studies published over a 14 year time period, researchers found stroke risk was reduced by 9% for every every 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumes per day. The research can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
6. A Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery – Further adding to the health benefits of dates, one study performed by researchers at the University of Science and Technology set out to discover how the date fruit impacted labor parameters and delivery outcomes. After studying 69 women for a year and 1 month, the researchers found that “the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant. A 2008 study suggests that consumption of dates by women in the final four weeks of pregnancy has positive effects regarding labour. Women who had six dates daily were compared to women who did not eat dates. The date-consuming group had greater mean cervical dilation, higher proportion of intact membranes, higher proportion of spontaneous labour, lower use of prostin/oxytocin, and shorter latent phase of labour.
7. Boosting Brain Health – Some studies, such as one found in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that sufficient vitamin B6 levels are associated with improved brain performance and better test scores.
A Summary of Dates Health Benefits: Dates are Great for:
* Weight loss
* Relieving constipation, supporting regular bowel movements
* Promoting heart health, reducing heart disease risk
* Iron-deficiency anemia
* Reducing blood pressure
* Promoting respiratory and digestive health
* Pregnancy deliveries
* Hemorrhoid prevention
* Chronic conditions such as arthritis
* Reducing colitis risk
* Preventing colon cancer
Dates are a wonderful snack all by themselves. But make sure you eat them in moderation, as fruits can contain high levels of fructose that can harm your health.
Eat a handful of fresh dates to satisfy your sweet tooth while boosting your intake of fiber and potassium. For an energizing, satiating snack, add a few roughly chopped dates to a cup of plain yogurt or cottage cheese. Use finely chopped dates to enhance the flavor and texture of rice dishes and and savory meat stews.
Culled from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/calories-benefits-dates-4120.html