The date is a sweet fruit born out of the date palm tree, popularly cultivated and eaten across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.
The date can be consumed as fresh fruit or dried. Its flesh is sticky and sweet when dried, making it the perfect substitute for sugar or caramel in healthier takes on a myriad of dishes. Other than being more than palatable, this fruit is packed with an array of health benefits.
Generous source of antioxidants. All dates, fresh or dried, contain different types of antioxidants. Fresh dates contain anthocyanins and carotenoids, while dried dates contain polyphenols – similar to green tea.
Anthocyanins fight free radicals, offering anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits.
Carotenoids also fight disease, promoting heart health, and battling specifically eye-related diseases; reducing the progression of age-related macular eye disease or cataracts.
Polyphenols can improve or help digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular disease.
Healthy for the brain. Each little date contains over two milligrams of choline, a B vitamin that’s a component in acetylcholine, the memory neurotransmitter. Higher choline intake is associated with better memory and learning, making it a key nutrient for children and older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s.
Maintain bone mass. Research shows that bone loss in post-menopausal women with osteopenia can be reduced by increasing the intake of potassium. One dried date provides nearly 140 milligrams of this valuable nutrient. Scientists believe that high potassium intake protects bone mass by reducing the amount of calcium excreted through the kidneys.
Good for blood sugar balance. Diabetes researchers have shown that dates have a low glycemic impact. This means that eating dates alone, or with a meal, may help people with type-2 diabetes manage their blood sugar and blood fat levels.
Help reduce blood pressure. A standard serving of five or six dates provides about 80 milligrams of magnesium, an essential mineral that helps dilate blood vessels. Dates are a delicious way to increase your magnesium intake. The levels of magnesium also constitute to improved vision and hearing.
The date also has high iron content which is especially helpful in increasing blood cell reproduction and blood circulation. This fruit is particularly helpful to those who suffer from anemia, providing an influx of energy.
Aids digestion. The date also aids in constipation relief and other intestinal disorders because of both it’s nicotine (surprise!) content and it’s especially high fiber content. Eating dried dates reduces dyspepsia, heartburn, and gastric acid.
A 100-gram serving provides the following nutrients:
Carbs: 75 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Potassium: 20% of the RDI
Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
Copper: 18% of the RDI
Manganese: 15% of the RDI
Iron: 5% of the RDI
Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI
Magical Properties of Dates:
The date is an ancient fruit that has been used for magic and spiritual healing for centuries, this magic was primarily cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians. Since the date palm yields an abundant crop of fruit, this plant and fruit have become a symbol of fertility. It is believed that wearing the leaves of a date palm or the date itself allows one to harness fertile sexual energy. Dates are also known to be an aphrodisiac, therefore stimulating specifically male potency and virility.
This is because of the estradiol and flavonoids that dates contain, which can increase a male’s sperm count and motility.
The date also promotes natural labor due to the compounds that bind oxytocin receptors which mimic the effects of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is a hormone that stimulates labor contractions during childbirth.
Also, dates contain tannins, which are compounds that help facilitate contractions. The natural sugar and calories that dates contain also help in providing the necessary energy levels during labor.
The sharing of dates is a gateway to strengthening relationships with others and encouraging good fortune, luck, and abundance.
Rituals, Traditions, and Mythology of the Date:
In the times of Ancient Egypt, the leaves of the date palm were used to wrap mummified corpses and decorate their tombs. The leaves and date fruit were also popular offerings to the dead. The fruit was also pressed into a juice, which was then to be fermented into the “intoxicating drink” or “a pleasant drink causing headache (Xenophone, Anabasis, II.5.14). This date-wine or beer was not only consumed for pleasure but also used to embalm corpses in the primary steps of mummification.
Date wine and beer are still consumed to this day throughout the Middle East, specifically in rural Egypt. Also, to this day, the date palm leaves are used for roofing homes, making sandals, and baskets.
The date was linked to the Egyptian God of Letters and Learning: Thoth. In Hieroglyphics Thoth is often pictured counting the years by the notches on the back of a date palm branch.
The Phoenicians linked the date fruit to the Phoenix, a symbol of resurrection and rebirth.