It’s a date!

5 top reasons to eat dates

Talk about the wisdom of the ages: biblical writings show us that agricultural products known as the  Seven Species, that were revered in ancient times,  are now a hotbed of scientific research.  The Seven Species include wheat, barley, dates, figs, grapes, olives and pomegranates.

At this time of year, for those celebrating the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, these foods are front and centre. While apples and honey are a traditional offering at the holiday table, it’s worth noting that the honey referred to when describing Israel as the Land of Milk and Honey is really date honey – a syrup produced  through boiling the dates.

Dates are actually the fruit of the date palm tree, one of the oldest trees to be cultivated.  And when you’re looking for a sweet treat, these fruits can fit the bill while offering a host of health benefits. Keep in mind, though, that just a few can go a long way in terms of portion control.

Here are just five health perks of dates.

•    Dates have a low glycemic index (GI)
While they may satisfy your taste for something sweet, dates are indeed a low glycemic index food. With a reading of only 42, that’s where  the similarity between candy and dates ends. Consider that granulated sugar has a GI of 100.

•    Dates  can help to meet shortfalls for a range of key nutrients
If you look at some of the nutrients we’re short on – fibre, potassium and magnesium – the nutritional profile of dates looks even better. Two dates supply almost 3 grams of fibre, just under 200 milligrams of potassium and one tenth of your daily requirement for magnesium.

•    Dates are packed with antioxidants
Not only do dates supply antioxidants but it’s the assortment contained that’s noteworthy. These antioxidants – phenolic compounds- include lesser known compounds such as  p-coumaric, ferulic, and sinapic acids along with  flavonoids, and procyanidins.

•    Dates offer both anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic  action
A number of studies have shown that dates offer a number of actions that may potentially decrease the risk of certain cancers. Some cancers are caused due to inflammation while others may be the result of mutations in genetic material.
Eating dates is a delicious way to consume compounds which may counter both inflammation and cancer-causing mutations.

•    Dates may be a smart addition to the diets of pregnant women
Preliminary research on pregnant women shows that in women who ate dates daily in the last month of pregnancy compared to those who did not, dates  made the delivery process go more smoothly.  The date eaters were   significantly less likely to require labor to be induced.

For more information on dates and  a wealth of recipes, check out Natural Delights.

For those of you celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, L’Shana Tova and I wish you a year of health, happiness and peace.

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Categories: Research Roundup, Superfoods, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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2 Comments on “It’s a date!”

  1. September 23, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    Thanks for inviting us to rethink the humble date, Rosie. Until now, my main exposure to dates was through date squares at potluck dinners (and really, why even bother when there’s homemade fruit flan or cheesecake right next to them?) But your post has inspired me to reconsider dates.

  2. September 23, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    Thanks for your comment, Carolyn! I have achieved my goal of getting people to thinking about dates! They should never be forgotten! They’re too tasty and nutritious!

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