Dates and their Nutritional and Health Value

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During the blessed month of Ramadan, dates are highly consumed as they contain the sugars that provide the fasting person, during breakfast, with high energy that is easily absorbed and assimilated. What are the most famous types of dates? What are their benefits? Do they cause any harm to some people?

The palm tree is a perennial tree that is widely cultivated in Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula countries, Iraq, and Iran. Egypt comes first in the world's date production, producing 1,700,000 tons in 2020; some produce is consumed locally and the rest is exported. Among the most famous types of Egyptian dates are Zaghloul, Amhat, Siwi and Hayani. There are also different species that were imported from Arab countries and cultivated in Egypt, which were accepted in the Egyptian market; such as, Barhi, Deglet Noor and Medjool.

Dates undergo three stages: Bisr, Rutab, and Tamr; during all these three stages, the dates are edible. Dates ripen to become bisr during Summer; in this stage, the dates are rich in fibres. In the rutab stage, dates become rich in moisture and contain a good amount of sugars. In the stage of tamr or when the fruit is totally ripened, the moisture decreases while the sugar content increases; therefore, the first two stages of dates are better for diabetic people than ripe dates. At this stage, dates are pressed and packed for storage.

Benefits of Dates

Dates contain iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and calcium, which help regulate blood pressure. Moreover, dates contain vitamins and a high percentage of antioxidants that eliminate free radicals in the body; so, they protect against cancer. Dates are also rich in fibres which are necessary to treat digestive disorders and prevent constipation; fibres also help people, who are aiming to lose weight, feel full faster. However, consuming too much fibres can lead to some undesirable side effects. Since dates contain iron, they help treat anemia, and they are also used to treat infections, strengthen the bones, and provide the body with energy.

Disadvantages of Dates

Since dates contain a high amount of sugar, consuming dates excessively can cause weight gain and may also harm diabetics. However, diabetics can eat few dates per day, for example three dates; they need to follow up with a doctor to make sure this is safe. You should be cautious because in the case of large-sized dates, such as Medjool, one date can be equivalent to three dates of the other types. Moreover, some types, such as the Sokari, are rich in sucrose, which is more harmful to diabetics.

Also, patients who suffer from kidney problems should be careful when consuming dates because they are high in potassium, so they should also consult a doctor. Eating dates may cause allergic reactions in some people; when they are unable to digest the fructose in the dates, which causes diarrhea, gases, and abdominal pain.

Dates contain 75% sugars; where every 100 grams of dates produce about 281 calories. Dates contain three types of sugars: glucose, fructose, and sucrose. The percentage of glucose and fructose does not differ a lot in the different types of dates; however, the difference lies in the percentage of sucrose. Some dates do not contain sucrose or even a little amount of it, while other types are rich in sucrose, such as Sokari dates, which are among the types present in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Fructose tastes twice as sweet as glucose; both glucose and fructose are monosaccharides, unlike sucrose, which is a disaccharide that may cause more harm to a diabetic when consumed excessively compared to glucose and fructose. Therefore, some kinds of dates that are free of sucrose are safer for the diabetic.

Due to the nutritional and health value of dates, they are considered ideal food, whether in Ramadan or any other time; however, those who may suffer from some problems from eating dates can consult a specialist to decide the appropriate amount they can eat.

*Note: What is meant at the beginning of the video is that the number of types of Egyptian dates is 15 only; maybe they mean the most famous ones, but, according to the FAO Atlas, Egyptian date types are much more than that.

References

livestrong.com
verywellfit.com

FAO Atlas of Egyptian Dates

 

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