Throughout the month of Ramadan, dates are a common ingredient in the Muslim diet. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Break your fast by eating dates as it is purifying.”
Dates contain a long list of minerals, vitamins, and health-benefiting phytonutrients required for normal growth, development and overall well-being. I’ve cited below some of the many benefits of dates:
- Dates areeasily digested and quickly metabolized allowing your body to make full use of their benefits and providing an essential energy boost for those of us who have been fasting all day, without upsetting the stomach
- Dates contain dietary fiber, which help to move waste smoothly through your colon, promote normal blood glucose levels and help prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol absorption. Moreover, fiber slows digestion, decreasing the feeling of hunger and helping to avoid the rush into excessive eating, which causes digestive disorders
- The iron contained in dates ensures an appropriate level of red cells in the blood. This is vital for balancing oxygen levels in the blood and preventing anemia
- Potassium, an electrolyte, helps control your heart rate, blood pressure and is very important in regulating the water balance in the body, especially after a long day of fasting
- B Vitamins help metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats to meet the body’s needs. Folic acid (B9) serves important functions in the construction of new blood cells and of amino acids, the body’s building blocks, and in cell renewal
- Calcium and Phosphate are important elements for skeletal growth and balancing the body’s bone structure. They protect the body against bone weakness and help reduce such disorders
- Vitamin A is known to have anti-oxidant properties, protects the eyes, maintains healthy skin and mucus membranes, and even protects the lungs and mouth from developing cancer
- Dates are also especially rich in beta-carotene.Beta-carotene helps prevent cancer by controlling molecules that attack the cells
- Last but not least, dates contain protein, important in immune function. They contain 23 types of amino acids, some of which are not present in the most popular fruits, such as oranges, apples, and bananas
Dates are a wonderful snack all by themselves. But make sure you eat them in moderation, as fruits can contain high levels of fructose that can harm your health. Try adding dates to a cup of plain yoghurt or cottage cheese, use them to sweeten your smoothies and baked goods or eat them along with a mixture of chopped raw almonds and walnuts to balance the sugar to fat and protein ratio. I personally love making date balls I can grab anytime for a quick on-the-go snack.
Now eat your dates!