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 Diet & Nutrition

october 2012

Get Delicious On A Date!

Panchali Moitra 
Whether you are looking for a sweet treat with natural goodness or a nutritionally packed snack to fight fatigue, dates easily qualify as the perfect choice for most health enthusiasts. High in carbohydrates and fibre, and rich in exotic taste and essential minerals, dates can be a healthy addition to any diet.

Originally dates came from the Middle East and South Asia. It was prominently so around the Persian Gulf and River Nile. Today they are grown extensively in the warm climate zones across Africa, Europe and Asia. The date fruit belongs to the ‘drupe’ category having a fleshy outer layer and an inner hardened pit with a seed.

Date variants are available either as the soft ‘Medjool’ and ‘Khadrawy’, the semi dry ‘Deglet Noor’ or the dry form ‘Thoory’. The popular and revered cultivars include ‘Medjool’, ‘Khadrawy’, ‘Amer Haji’, ‘Khalasah’, ‘Kenta’ and ‘Khajoor’.

Weighty Affair!
Dates are cholesterol free and loaded with dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These energy-dense delicious fruits are rich in potassium (which helps to check hypertension), calcium (which is useful for skeletal and dental health), selenium (the immunity booster), magnesium and copper.

If the antioxidants in dates are chiefly the powerful carotenoids, the vitamins comprise the entire range of the B complex – B6, niacin, and folic acid. It is also rich in amino acids. About 100 g of fresh dates provide 400 kcal approximately. So, the flip side is you must be careful about nibbling on too many dates! It is especially so if you are trying to watch your weight.

Soak On Beauty
  • Being fairly dense in calories, simple sugars (glucose and fructose) and iron, dates are recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers and growing children. The energy is released instantly and the body feels revitalized; they are precisely the reasons why dates are preferred to break day-long fasts during Ramzan.
  • The tannins present in dates exhibit anti-inflammatory and disease fighting properties. Dates contain considerable amount of Vitamin A (approximately 150 IU per 100 g) and is thus good for vision and healthy skin.
  • Consuming soaked dates with warm milk acts as a natural laxative and cuts down on ‘bad’ cholesterol absorption in the body. They also help in improving digestion and reducing intestinal and liver problems. Dates are considered beneficial for weight gain, regularizing menstrual woes, building stamina and reducing alcohol intoxication.
  • Upon consumption, dates leave an alkaline residue in the gut and aid in countering acidity.
  • Go for a face mask made of dates, cream and wheat germ oil to keep age spots and skin dryness at bay. Blend together dates, honey, cucumber juice and oat flakes for a face pack to enjoy blemish-free and nourished skin.
  • Soft dates can be eaten as snack as it is or by stuffing it with nuts, cheese, cream or spices. Fresh and dried dates are enjoyed sprinkled over cereals, porridges, salads and milk shakes. Chopped dates find a place in many regional sweet and savory delicacies, ranging from date cakes, cookies, puddings and breads to date juice, date sugar, chutneys and traditional Jallab teas.
Dr Panchali Moitra Nutrition Expert, Weight Management Consultant, Kolkata.