Dates are the fruits of the date palm, scientific name Phoenix dactylifera, one of the oldest plants cultivated by man and a source of nutrition for more than 6000 years. Nowadays, dates can be found almost everywhere in their dried form and are a treat for adults and children thanks to their sweet and buttery note. But dates are not only a pleasure for the palate, they are in fact also a source of healthy properties, so much that they are considered a real medical food. But let's understand better.
As soon as they are eaten, dates immediately revitalize the body and supply it with energy thanks to the sugars they contain. But dates, low in fats and proteins, also provide minerals, such as selenium, with an anti-tumor action and capable of supporting the immune system, zinc, copper, potassium and magnesium, vitamins, such as A, C and group B, and fibers, important to keep at bay nervous hunger and to modulate the absorption of sugars. Not only that, the fibers of dates are protective for the health of the intestinal microbiota by promoting the growth of good bacteria with beneficial effects on the whole organism and the immune system (Eid et al, J Nutr Sci, 2014). However, dates are also an excellent source of antioxidants, especially carotenoids and phenols (Al Farsi et al, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2008 - Al Shahib et al, Int J Food Sci Nutr, 2003). Indeed, among all dried fruits, dates have the highest concentration of polyphenols, powerful antioxidant substances capable of counteracting the damage of free radicals. Moreover, dates are anti-inflammatory and also contain beta glucans, which are substances that have shown an anti-tumor action, especially useful to protect breast, prostate, colon, lungs and pancreas (Rahmani et al, Int J Clin Exp Med, 2014). Dates are also considered capable of modulating the activity of the immune system and also show a protective action on the brain, reducing the risk of developing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. In fact, as has been observed by scientific research, in the long term, at least 15 months, the consumption of dates counteracts inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and reduces the accumulation of beta amyloid protein plaques, one of the causes of Alzheimer's (Essa et al, Neural Regen Res, 2016). As mentioned, dates are anti-inflammatory and, thanks also to their antimicrobial action, they can be a help in case of sore throats and colds (Al Shwyeh et al, J Pharm Bioallied Sci, 2019).
Dates, uses in the kitchen
Dates consumed for breakfast, for example chopped in the yogurt or served together with other dried fruit, are a snack rich in energy, very useful for students, for those who have an active life but also for those who are convalescing. In case of a sore throat and to protect the respiratory tract, soak two pitted dates in half a glass of milk, also a plant based milk, for half an hour. Then blend the dates with the immersion blender, add another half glass of milk and heat over low heat for a couple of minutes, then drink.
Dates are a fruit rich in sugars and therefore, in case of diabetes or in case you need to keep blood sugar under control, it is good to limit or avoid the consumption of dates, based on the personal situation evaluated by the doctor. Indeed, it is true that one study observed that the consumption of fresh dates in people suffering from diabetes did not cause significant postprandial changes in blood glucose, but it was fresh, not dried dates, as on the contrary you can find today in the most cases (Alkaabi et al, Nutr J, 2011).