Dates: An ancient fruit with health benefits
Date fruits are one of the ancient fruit of the world mainly consumed in the Middle-east and North Africa for a very long time. Now a day the production of the date palm is increasing 3 to 4 times because of its health benefits and essential nutrients. Among many health benefits of the dates are anti-oxidant, antimutagenic, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, and immune stimulant (1). Date fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and, other nutrients. Besides this, the date fruit is also used for the ailment of certain diseases from ancient times because of its medicinal properties.
The main composition of Date fruits
Date fruits are rich in natural sugar mainly fructose, glucose, and sucrose. These are the most important compounds as they provide a good amount of energy to the human body. Being a fruit of desert where other types of food sources are very less, dates thus are the important lifeline for the locals and tribals.
Along with rich sugar content, date fruits also have different types of minerals. Major minerals in the fruits are selenium, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Minor minerals include manganese, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. Minerals are good for health if taken in an appropriate amount. Selenium present in date fruits helps in protecting the body from oxidative stress and enhances immunity (3).
Date fruits are rich in vitamins mainly B complex and C. Other than these date fruits also have fat-soluble vitamins namely D, E, and A. Vitamins are very important for a healthy body.
4. Dietary fibers
Date palm fruits are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fibers are essential for a healthy stomach and proper bowel movement. Proper bowel movement is very important for a healthy body as it reduces bowel cancer, blood cholesterol, reduces the risk of diabetes and other forms of diseases. 100 gram of date pulp contains around 32% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber (2).
5. Amino acids
Date fruits have many essential amino acids like serine, methionine, glycine, proline, aspartic acid, arginine, tyrosine, etc. These amino acids are very important for the normal functions of the body. As our body can not generate amino acids and therefore must be provided by an external source (3).
Health benefits of Dates
Date fruits because of its high nutritional value can be used for the treatment of many health-related problems. Eating date on regular basis helps in maintaining proper health and activity of the body.
Date fruits are aphrodisiacs in nature. A study was done in the year, 2013 (4) proves that the water extract of date helps in increasing the male sex hormone therefore are aphrodisiac in nature. Compounds like saponins, flavonoids, and alkaloids are androgen enhancing in nature.
2. Prevents cough and cold
Date fruits are very effective against cough and cold. Having date fruits during cold helps in relieving from sore throat heats up the body. There is although no experimental proof but traditionally date syrup mixed with fig, hibiscus, and raisins all in equal amount and boiled can be used for the treatment of cough and cold and other chest infections (5).
3. Treats asthma
Asthma is an inflammatory disease and the main reason for having asthma is many including prolong-illness, hereditary, environmental pollution, allergy, etc. The decoction of date fruits and fenugreek is a safe and traditional method to reduce the effect of asthma and is also safe in use.
4. Labour and delivery relaxation
Date palm fruits have been eaten traditib]nally from a very long time in order to induce labor and relaxing the muscles after delivery. Date palm fruits also help in increasing the lactation and hemoglobin levels after pregnancy.
Date palm helps in keeping the liver healthy. In studies done on rats, it was showed that date palm fruit extracts help in healing the liver thus acts as a hepatoprotective. Date palm extract thus helps in saving the liver from alcohol side effects and other drug side effects.
Date palm fruits particularly the seeds contain zinc which acts as an anti-allergy to the body. Therefore soaps made of date seeds are effective in reducing skin allergy reaction. Consuming date fruits directly also helps in controlling certain skin-related allergy (6).
7. Protects kidney stones
Dates fruit is very healthy for the kidney. Due to its diuretic and anti-inflammatory nature eating dates thus helps the kidney remain healthy by protecting from renal stones. Drinking water extract of nearly 100 g of date fruits helps in healing kidney stones.
Date fruits are rich in folic acid and therefore considered as an antioxidant in nature. Eating date fruits helps in detoxification of the body and strengthen the body’s immune system against cancer and other types of diseases(7).
9. Healthy heart
Date fruits are low in sodium and high in potassium content therefore are useful in maintaining the sodium and potassium balance of the body and also helps in healing cardiac-related disorders (7).
Seeds of date fruits possess antidiabetic activity. A study suggests that the hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, and antioxidant property of date seeds helps in controlling diabetes (8). Another study on the animal models also concludes that water extract of date seeds helps in restoring the normal function of the liver and kidney and balance the oxidative stress in diabetic conditions (9).
Side effects of Dates
1. Tooth decay
Dates fruits are rich in sugar compound and also are very sticky therefore may cause tooth decay.
2. Weight gain
Date fruits are high in calories therefore not suitable during dieting.
3. Rich minerals
Dates are rich in minerals like potassium therefore too much-eating date fruits can cause some serious health effects.