Research Study: Nutritional and functional properties of dates: a review
Researchers: Mohamed Ali Al-Farsi and Chang Yong Lee
In this article, we will review the current scientific evidence on the nutritional and functional properties of dates and their potential role in preventing and treating various diseases.
There are over 13 vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function properly. Because of this, it is important to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Many of these foods also contain additional essential nutrients, like fiber. Consuming adequate fiber provides many health benefits, including potentially reducing chronic disease risks. This is one example of how the food we eat is vital for our health and quality of life.
Dates, for example, have long been studied for their potential health benefits and nutrient density. This study aimed to identify the number of nutrients found in date fruits to determine if they are a healthy addition to the diet.
Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, dating back to ancient times in the Middle East and North Africa. They are widely consumed for their sweet taste and chewy texture, but they also have many health benefits. Dates are rich in various nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that may contribute to their nutritional and functional properties.
Dates are classified as drupes, which are fruits that have a single seed surrounded by a fleshy pulp and a hard outer layer. There are over 3000 varieties of dates, but the most common ones are Deglet Noor, Medjool, Barhi, and Zahidi. Dates vary in size, shape, color, sweetness, and moisture content depending on the variety and the stage of ripening.
The ripening process of dates involves four stages: kimri (green), khalal (yellow or red), rutab (soft), and tamr (dry). The nutritional composition of dates also changes during ripening, with increasing levels of sugars and decreasing levels of moisture, vitamins, and minerals.
This article utilized findings from over 80 different research studies on the nutritional content of dates. In terms of macronutrients, dates were found to be low in fat and protein and high in carbohydrates. Specifically, they contained large amounts of fructose and glucose. Dates also contained a large amount of fiber, primarily insoluble fiber, with 100 grams of dates containing about 8 grams. They were also found to be energy-dense, meaning they have many calories in proportion to their weight and size.
Dates were also found to contain large amounts of micronutrients. For example, a 100-gram serving of dates has over 15% of the recommended allowance for selenium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. Large amounts of Vitamin C and B-complex were also found. Each of these nutrients serves an important, unique role in the body. For example, potassium is essential for muscle function and electric signaling to the nervous system and heart. Magnesium is also crucial for muscle and nerve function, as well as blood glucose control and protein synthesis. Potassium and magnesium can reportedly control blood pressure levels and treat hypertension.
Antioxidants, like phenolics and carotenoids, were also found in the dates. Antioxidants are compounds that may help your body fight off free radical damage, which may play a role in developing many diseases. These include heart disease and cancer. Vitamin C also functions as an antioxidant and adds to the antioxidant effects of dates.
While the date seeds are often not eaten, they contain many nutrients, including protein, fat, fiber, and antioxidants. In summary, dates, including both the flesh and seed, were
found to be nutrient-dense food and an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
CONCLUSION: NUTRITIONAL AND FUNCTIONAL PROPERTIES OF DATES
Dates are more than just a sweet and delicious fruit. They are also a source of various nutrients and bioactive compounds that can benefit our health in many ways. The nutritional and functional properties of dates include their high content of carbohydrates, fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
These components may help prevent and treat various diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and anemia. Dates can also improve our digestive health, cognitive function, blood pressure, liver function, and oral health. Therefore, dates can be considered as a functional food that can enhance our quality of life and well-being.
However, we should be mindful of the amount of dates we consume, as they are also high in calories and sugars. We should eat dates in moderation and as part of a balanced diet that includes other nutrient-dense foods.