DATES – Nutritional Profile
The date is the fruit grown from the date palm. It can take between 4 to 8 years before the palm will bear fruit and typically yields between 7 to 10 years bear enough fruit for commercial harvest. A mature date palm can produce between 80 to 120 kilograms per harvest season.
A 100g portion contains 282 calories, 75g of carbohydrates, 8g of fibre, 63.4g of sugars and 2.5g of protein. The dates also contain 0.4mg of Vitamin C, 0.05mg of Vitamin E and 2.7µg of Vitamin K. Vitamins in group B are also found as 1.274mg of Niacin, 0.066mg of Riboflavin, 0.052mg of Thiamin and 19µg of Folate are present.
Dates contain a variety of minerals. Calcium (39mg) , Copper (0.206mg), Iron (1.02mg), Sodium (2mg), Magnesium (43mg), Manganese (0.262mg), Phosphorous (62mg), Potassium (656mg), Selenium (3µg) and Zinc (0.29mg) are all present.
DATES – Health Benefits
The significant amounts of minerals found in dates make them a great food for strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis. Dates contain manganese, selenium, copper and magnesium, all of which are critical for healthy bone development.
The nicotine content in dates is thought to be beneficial for curing many types of intestinal disorders. Regular intake of dates helps to inhibit the growth of any pathological organisms and stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines.
Dates also contain both insoluble and soluble fibres, as well as many amino acids. These can stimulate the digestion of food and increase the number of nutrients being absorbed by the digestive tract.
A high level of iron is found in dates making them a perfect dietary supplement for people suffering from anaemia. Dates can therefore increase the energy and strength of sufferers.
Organic sulphur is not a very common element in foods but is present in dates. According to a 2002 study, organic sulphur compounds can have a positive impact on those suffering from seasonal allergies.
Dates are high in natural sugars like glucose, fructose and sucrose. The fruit therefore is a great snack for those looking for a quick burst in energy, useful for an afternoon snack when some people are feeling tired.
DATES – Product History
Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around Iran and have been cultivated since 4000BC. The palm that it grew on has had a wide variety of uses. The trunk was used as timber for construction, the juices fermented into wine and the leaves were woven into furniture and baskets. In the Hebrew Bible the date palm was mentioned as the perfect supplier of food, shelter and medicine.
Traders then began to spread dates all around the world. They visited South West Asia, northern Africa, Spain and Italy. Dates were then introduced into Mexico and California by the Spaniards in 1765
The current largest producers of dates are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran who produced over a million metric tonnes of dates each in 2011. Total world production of dates in 2011 was almost 7.5 million metric tonnes.