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Dates: The ultimate superfood


By: Lisa Costa Bir, Naturopath

Dates have been the staple food for millions of people around the world for centuries however little research has been done on their health promoting benefits, additionally, though nutrient rich, in Australia dates do not enjoy a reputation as a healthy food item when in fact that they are. Many people worry about the sugar content of dates and the resultant effects on their blood sugar however while yes they are high in sugar (natural sugar which our body runs on for fuel) they are a low-medium G.I food due to their high fibre content.

Amazingly, there are over 2000 varieties of dates. These include varieties such as Khalas, Barhe, Lulu, Shikat alkahlas, Sokkery, Bomaan, Sagay, Shishi, Maghool, Sultana, Fard, Maktoomi, Naptit saif, Jabri, Khodary, Dabbas, Raziz and Shabby.

Dates are mainly composed of carbohydrate (they are very rich in sugars) and are low in fat.

Dates are full of minerals boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and zinc.

The protein in dates contains 23 types of amino acids, some of which are not present in the most popular fruits such as oranges, apples and bananas.

Dates contain at least six vitamins including a small amount of vitamin C, and vitamins B(1) thiamine, B(2) riboflavin, nicotinic acid (niacin) and vitamin A.

Dates are high in dietary fibre (8.0 g/100 g), insoluble dietary fibre was the major fraction of dietary fibre in dates.

Dates contain 0.5-3.9% pectin which may have important health benefits.

Dates are a high source of energy; 100 g of flesh can provide an average of 314 kcal. Dates are a good source of antioxidants, mainly carotenoids and phenolics. Thus knowing everything we now know about dates we can agree that they are a superfood.

Why do we need to know this?
This detailed information on nutritional and health promoting components of dates and their seeds will enhance our knowledge and appreciation for the use of dates in our daily diet and their seeds as a functional food ingredient.

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