Some facts about dates

Some facts about dates

DATES, which are derived from a palm-type tree called the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), have for centuries been a staple food of the Middle East.

According to an article in Islam Online, the date palm is one of the oldest fruit trees in the world and is known as the tree of life. “The number of date palms is about 105 million worldwide covering an area of 800,000 ha, of which 62 million palms are found in the Arab world. The place of origin of the date palm is uncertain. Some claim that the date palm first originated in Babel, Iraq, while others believe that it originated in Dareen or Hoff, Saudi Arabia or Harqan, an island on the Arabian Gulf in Bahrain,” it says.

The fruit’s English name, as well as the Latin species name dactylifera, both come from the Greek word for “finger” – dáktulos – because of its elongated shape.

The sweet reddish-brown fruit is also an excellent ingredient in baking and for making jams.

Low in Calories: Dates have a very low calorie count; around 23 calories for a single date fruit. That is why it is also suitable for health conscious people.

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Rich in vitamins: Dates contain a variety of B-complex vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid. They also contain magnesium, which is important for healthy bone development and for energy metabolism, and iron which is essential for red blood cell production.

Health aid: The soluble fibre in dates can help to lower serum cholesterol levels, particularly the undesirable low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Storage: Dates can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three months before they lose their quality.

> Dates should not be left for more than two weeks at room temperature.

> When choosing dates, pick those that are plump and even-coloured.

> When consuming raw dates, make sure to clean them properly.

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