What are the health benefits of eating dates when breaking a fast?

  • Ramadan is a period of 30 days of fasting.
  • Having a healthy Iftar to break the long hours of fasting.
  • Dates are low in calories and nutritious.
  • Dates are rich in vitamins.
  • Dates are important for a healthy heart and brain.

Throughout the world, Muslims fast during Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a sacred tradition and spiritual ritual that brings them closer to Allah, or God. From sunrise to sunset, the fasting is done, one meal (known as the suhoor) just before dawn and another (known as the iftar) directly after sunset.

Fasting During Ramadan

The Holy Month of Ramadan is a period of 30 days of fasting. Muslims gather after sunset prayer and break their fast with a meal called ‘Iftar’ while sharing it with friends and family members. The pre-sunrise to sunset fast lasts anywhere from 10 to 21 hours depending on where in the world you are; the number of daylight hours varies from country to country. During the hours of fasting, Muslims are abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations.

How to Break the Fast?

After long hours of fasting, the body is drained and dehydrated so choosing the right food to break the fasting is important. Having a healthy Iftar is the key; breaking the fast by eating three dates is recommended since dates are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients. Also, having a light soup will help the body rehydrate and ease digestion.

Healthy Aspects of Dates

 

1- Dates are nutritious 

Dates are low in calories, one date equals 66.5 cal, according to the U.S department of agriculture. Moreover, they are almost fat free (0.15g/date), cholesterol-free,and low in sodium (0.24mg/date). They are rich in Vitamin A (35.8 IU/ date), carotene beta (21.4 µg/ date), folate ( 3.6 µg/ date), and Vitamin D complexes that are crucial for muscle building and repairing. Dates are also rich in minerals such as:  magnesium (13 mg/date), Calcium (15.4 mg/date), phosphorus (14.9 mg/date), and potassium ( 167 mg/date). So basically, it is a tiny magical food that will restore all the drained energy and minerals lost during the long hours of fasting.

 

2- Get your vitamins

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

 

3- Protect your heart and brain 

Dates are rich in both flavonoids and fibers that have an impact on reducing cardiovascular diseases and have positive effects on vascular health. Moreover, flavonoids have an anti-inflammatory characteristic that reduces Alzheimer’s disease, antibacterial effects, and certain types of cancer.

Fasting during Ramadan is from sunrise to sunset; thus, having a balanced and healthy Iftar meal is crucial. Dates are filled with fibers, vitamins, and antioxidants, so breaking the fast with dates is beneficial for the health, brain, and heart. 

Summary

The Holy Month of Ramadan is a period of 30 days of fasting. Muslims gather after sunset prayer and break their fast with ‘Iftar’. The Iftar meal should be healthy after long hours of fasting; breaking the fast with dates was found to have a great impact on the health.

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills

Written by:
Wafaa El Hassan
Dietetics and Sports Nutrition
Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian

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