May 1, 2023

All About Dates, The Fruit, Because I Don’t Have A Clue About Dating

A luscious trip through the world of dates

Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, with a history that stretches back to ancient times. From their pivotal role in Middle Eastern and North African cultures to their introduction to the Americas centuries ago, dates have been used both as a tasty treat and as a herbal remedy.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

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A brief history of dates

Dates are believed to have originated in what is now Iraq around 4,000 BC. They have been an essential part of the cuisine in Middle Eastern and North African cultures ever since. Dates were also a crucial item of trade during the ancient world and were used as part of many ancient religious ceremonies.

Dates were also a very important part of ancient Egyptian culture, as they were used in medical remedies and to sweeten their bread and cakes. Dates were introduced to the Americas by traders from Spain and Portugal during the 16th century and were linked to many spiritual rituals among Native Americans.

The health benefits of dates have been recognised for centuries, and they have been used to treat everything from digestive issues to heart disease.

Health benefits of dates

Dates are a naturally sweet and nutrient-rich fruit that offer many health benefits. They are rich in fibre, potassium, vitamins, and minerals.

Some of the potential health benefits of dates include;

  • improved digestion
  • increased energy levels
  • improved heart health
  • protection against certain diseases
  • lower LDL cholesterol levels
  • they may even help reduce inflammation and prevent anaemia

Ancient remedies with dates

Ancient civilisations have long relied on dates to achieve and maintain optimum health. Dates were used in a variety of natural remedies across the world.

One such remedy that originated in the middle east is using dates to treat constipation. Ancient healers used to soak dates in water overnight and then eat them the next morning as a natural laxative.

We further know that they were used to promote fertility and reduce inflammation, too.

Dates can also be boiled and consumed as tea or syrup to help with fever and digestive issues.

Date syrup, in particular, helps when you have a dry mouth, sore throats, and even sleep disorders.

Cooking & baking

The first image that comes to mind when we hear about dates is actually the dehydrated (or semi-dehydrated) version of dates. They originally come from a tree since they are fruit, the Date Palm (or Phoenix dactylifera).

Dates can be incorporated into a variety of recipes. Be mindful of their intense sweetness, though — a little goes a long way! That also depends on the other ingredients you’re incorporating into your recipe, but for the most part, dates are a natural sweetener.

They can be used to sweeten cakes, cookies, and muffins and add flavour to savoury dishes. Dates are often used in Middle Eastern cuisine, either chopped and sprinkled on top of dishes or pureed to create sweet sauces and syrups.

Savoury cooking recipes with dates;

  • Date and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers
  • Date and Cannellini Bean Salad
  • Date and Walnut Tacos
  • Date and Butternut Squash Tagine
  • Date, Basil and Pine Nut Pesto Pasta

Dried dates can even be ground into a powder and added to smoothies, cereal, or oatmeal for an extra boost of energy.

What about any side effects?

Generally, no significant side effects are associated with consuming dates in moderation. The recommended serving size for dates is one to two dates per day, but this can vary depending on your dietary needs.

But as with anything else, consuming too much of the fruit may increase your risk of developing certain conditions such as diarrhoea, tooth decay, and weight gain. Again, as with any food, it is best to consult a medical professional if you have any concerns about dietary changes or potential side effects.

If you’ve not had dates before, be careful, as some people have an allergy to that fruit.

Did you know that…

…a traditional way of feeding animals like goats, sheep, horses and camels is date seeds that have been soaked in water?

…dates are also used in cosmetic products? Date extract is often used in skin care products and cosmetics due to its antioxidants and anti-ageing effects. Those may be products like face creams, moisturisers, shampoos, body oils, and more.

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