Gift of the Desert – Dates
When you think about the Middle East, one of the many things that come to the mind is ‘Dates’, which truly symbolizes ‘gift of the desert’. For the Arabs, the date is not only a delicacy that they cherish but also something that is engraved deeply within their culture, representing values of ‘generosity’ and ‘gratitude’. A staple in the Arab world especially the Arabian peninsula, dates are considered as holy fruits which is why you will find them served along with Arabic coffee to the visitors and guests at every Arab house.
“Dates and Gahwa – The Emirati Bond of Togetherness”
Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan break their fast with dates and water, similar to prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), as mentioned in the Qur’an, the Holy book of Muslims. There are many more religious instances associated with dates. Qur’an mentions that Mary was advised to eat dates to ease the complications and pain of childbirth, while she was in labour with Jesus. This fact has also been proved scientifically, as science suggests that dates have incredible benefits for pregnant women
Nowadays, Even if you’re a tourist in the UAE, you will get to see this lovely Arabic custom where friends and family sit together and share talks over a tiny cup of steaming coffee from a dallah. From several centuries, this tradition has been an enduring sign of Arabic hospitality, wherein people sit together in the Majlis, talk, eat dates and enjoy ‘Gahwa’. That’s the Emirati way as they say it…
Founding father ‘Sheikh Zayed’ was a loyal advocate of agriculture, particularly the plantation of date palms as a unique natural resource in the country. Due to his phenomenal efforts and ambitions, UAE today is one of the leading producers and exporters of dates worldwide.
Palms are a very familiar term in the middle east and it is for a very good reason as well. The flowering species of Palm trees bear sweet fruit, which we know as ‘dates’. Believed to be originated in Iraq, dates have a history of being here for more than 50 million years. A Palm tree can grow as long as 75 ft in height, with leaves growing up to 20 ft long. From Iraq, dates found its way to Egypt and Pakistan as well, and today some of the leading producers of dates include names like Egypt, Iran, Algeria, Saudi and UAE, Iraq, Sudan, Oman and Tunisia.
One of the best parts about eating dates is that they can be eaten straight from the palm tree. Thus, making it a fresh and hassle-free experience for everyone. Dates if dried, can be stored for years with the syrup inside them maintaining the moisture and flavour for a long time.
Nutritional value of Dates and Benefits
Dates are packed with essential nutrients, especially dietary potassium. With 80 percent sugar content, a ripe date also consists of protein, fibre and minute elements of boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Here are some benefits of eating dates –
Dates are natural laxatives that can relieve constipation. For those, who are dealing with chronic constipation are advised to soak some dates in water overnight and then eat them first thing in the morning. Since dates are high in soluble fibre, they ease the bowel moments and promotes healthy passage of food through the intestines.
If you eat dates regularly, you will develop stronger bones due to the density of minerals in the fruit. Organic pitted dates are rich in minerals such as Copper, Selenium, Manganese and Magnesium, which help in preventing diseases such as Osteoporosis. Dates are beneficial for everyone especially the elderly people as with age bones tend to grow weak.
Dates promote the growth of good bacteria and overall intestinal health. Since dates have a particular amount of ‘nicotine’ in them, they promote intestinal health by supporting the growth of pathological organisms, also known as ‘good bacteria’ in the intestinal tract. In addition to that the presence of both soluble and insoluble fibres along with amino acids make the digestion process and nutritional absorption much better.
Dates are your best bet to gain weight. As mentioned earlier in this blog, Dates are an essential ingredient of a healthy diet as they are rich in essential vitamins, proteins, natural sugars and other minerals. Consuming dates with cucumber paste is one of the many ways of maintaining a healthy body weight. A kilogram of ‘Medjool’ dates have approximately 3, 000 calories, which is more than enough for anyone to gain weight easily. However, you should definitely consult an expert instead of eating 1 kg of dates right away.
Consider eating dates for a healthy heart. Dates contain a good amount of potassium in them, which is essential to maintain a healthy heart function and reduces to risk of issues like ‘strokes’. Moreover, they tend to reduce the levels of LDL Cholesterol, which results in many heart-related issues such as heart attacks and strokes.
Dates are great to help deal with Anemia. Dates are rich in many minerals and one of them is ‘iron’. Eating dates will help you deal with sluggishness and fatigue, which is why one should consider adding them to their breakfast.
Best way to eat dates
There’s no one particular way to eat dates because it depends on how you feel like eating them. Some people soak them overnight and eat them the next morning, some prefer to eat them with their cereal, people use jaggery made from date palms in their food, while many have substituted sugar with date syrup.
Types of date:
Ajwa, Ambera, Barhi, Dayri, Deglet Noor, Dried, Halawy, Hayani – Egypt, Iteema – Algeria, Kalmi – Oman, Khadrawi, Khola – Saudi Arabia, Khudri, Mabroom, Maktoom, Medjool, Migraf, Safawi, Saghai, Saidy, Sukkari, Thoory, Anbara, Zahidi and many more.
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PS: Health issues mentioned in the blog should always be consulted with an expert or a PHYSICIAN FIRST.