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All about “Date”

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Nutritional value of the date

  Pitted dried date, 25 g (3 berries) Pitted Medjool fresh date, 1 large fruit, 24 g
Calories 70 66
Protein 0.6g 0.4 g
Carbohydrates 18.7g 18.0 g
Fat 0.1g 0.0 g
Dietary fiber 2.0 g 1.6g
Glycemic load  : Strong
Antioxidant power  : Very high

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.

Date: understand everything in 2 min

Date Health Profile

   



Fresh or dried , dates are a good source of dietary fiber . Their high carbohydrate content makes them high- energy fruits , perfect for intense sports activities . In addition, they contain a high concentration of antioxidants .

 

The benefits of dates

Fresh Medjool Dates

  • Even if few studies have been carried out specifically on dates , several epidemiological studies have shown that a high consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases 15,23 , certain cancers 16 , 24 and other diseases chronicles 3-6 , 17,18,22,25 . The presence of antioxidants and fiber in fruits and vegetables could play a role in this protection.
  • Rich in carbohydrates, dates are a food of choice to facilitate muscle work. As carbohydrates are a good fuel for muscles, dates can be useful during sports, especially during prolonged efforts, for example hiking or cycling, cross-country skiing, etc.

What does the date contain?

Dried dates, sweeter?
The dates are especially marketed and consumed dry, that is to say partially dehydrated. They contain only 15% to 20% water, compared to 65% to 70% for fresh dates. A dried date contains as much sugar (carbohydrates) as a fresh date, but for equal weight, dried dates contain a little more than fresh dates. Dried dates are sometimes coated with syrup so that they retain a certain humidity, which increases their sugar content.

Antioxidants
Fresh dates contain a high concentration of antioxidants , mainly carotenoids and phenolic compounds , 2,13,14 . Antioxidants protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals . Dried dates contain less than fresh dates, since a certain amount is lost during dehydration 1 .

Dietary fiber
Dates are made up of 57% insoluble fiber and 43% soluble fiber . Insoluble fiber plays an important role in bowel regularity and the prevention of constipation 7 . By retaining water in the colon, they increase the volume and weight of the stool, which reduces transit time and facilitates evacuation. In addition, studies have shown that soluble fiber plays a role in reducing cholesterol levels as well as in normalizing glucose and insulin levels. Therefore, they can help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease , 19,20 .


A 25 g serving of dates (3 fruits) provides 2 g of fiber, which represents 5% to 8% of the amount of fiber recommended per day 7 . Dried dates are a better source of dietary fiber than raisins, dried apricots and prunes, but they are less rich in fiber than dried figs 13 .

Carbohydrates
The glycemic index of dried dates ranges from moderate to high , 21 . This index classifies foods according to their effect on blood sugar . The glycemic index of dates is variable, since their chemical composition (sugar content, types of sugar, fiber content, etc.) is influenced by various factors, such as the variety, the composition of the soil and the degree of maturity of the fruit. Although the clinical usefulness of the glycemic index concept is not unanimous 10 , the Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics consume foods with a low glycemic index more often, and less often foods with a moderate or high glycemic index 11 .

Main vitamins and minerals

Source Copper The date is a source of copper .

Precautions

Choking hazard for young children
Young children can choke on hard, smooth or round foods 12 . The hard dried dates and even those in the cookies have some risks. They are the same size as a young child’s esophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach) and they can get stuck in the throat and block the windpipe (the tube that carries air to the lungs) 7 . So you have to be very careful!

Recipe ideas

The Arabs claim that there are as many uses for dates as there are days in the year. Here are a few :


  • For an original appetizer , stuff them with creamy cheese, or even olives. Then roll them in creamy cheese, then in chopped nuts.
  • Spreads. Chopped dates and creamy cheese. Chopped dates and orange marmalade. Chopped dates, peanut butter and vinaigrette in equal parts.
  • Stuff pita breads with a tabbouleh salad decorated with pieces of dates.
with dates
  • Add finely chopped dates in a vinaigrette . Let stand at least 2 hours before serving on a salad of your choice. Or add them to a salad dressing made with yogurt, vegetable oil, buttermilk and concentrated orange juice. Go to the blender.
  • In fruit, vegetable or mixed salads like this: grapefruit wedges, avocado slices, strips of red pepper, watercress, chicken breast and dates. Or simply serve them with fresh pineapple, grated coconut and fresh mint leaves.
  • Struck yogurt . Put the yogurt, dates, concentrated orange juice, banana, crushed ice in a blender and serve. Or try the yogurt, concentrated pineapple juice, dates and coconut mixture.
  • Soy milk shakes. Mix dates, soy milk, natural vanilla extract and grated coconut.
  • Make a nourishing pudding with dates, rice and milk.
  • Serve them as treats , simply by stuffing them with nuts or almond paste. Before stuffing them, they are usually enclosed in a cloth soaked in orange blossom water and rubbed, which gives them a nice shiny appearance and a delicate flavor. To change, stuff them with maple butter.
  • Add them to bread preparations , nut breads, cakes, muffins, cookies or make the traditional date and oatmeal squares .
  • Dates can replace all or part of the mangoes in the classic chutney recipe . Another chutney recipe: dates, raisins, coconut, spearmint, pepper, cumin, lime juice.
  • Carrot and date soup. Sauté garlic, onion and celery. Add chicken broth, grated carrots and spices (curry, cumin, grated ginger, coriander seeds, hot pepper) and cook until the carrots are tender. Add pitted and chopped dates and cook until softened. Go to the blender and serve this soup garnished with a spoonful of crème fraîche or soft goat cheese
  • In couscous or tagines . For example, this Moroccan tagine made of lamb cubes taken in the shoulder and cooked with onions, garlic, cinnamon, saffron, salt, pepper and olive oil. The dish is garnished with dates stuffed with nuts and macerated for a few minutes in orange blossom water before being immersed in a hot syrup.
  • Pasta . Mix finely minced spinach or arugula leaves with goat cheese, dry roasted nuts, chopped dates, minced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Let sit for half an hour. Serve this preparation on short pasta.
  • Stuffing for poultry. Mix chopped dates, cooked couscous, minced green onions, coriander and cumin seeds, salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Or chopped dates and apricots, cooked wild rice, apples, chopped onions and celery, thyme and rosemary. Or even dates, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, milk and eggs. Also dates, raisins, potatoes, eggs, cheese and nutmeg.
  • Lentils and rice. Brown onions for ten minutes in the pan. Add broth, lentils, rice (half cooked if it is whole rice) as well as carrots, celery, red pepper, garlic and dates. Season with the spices of your choice, cook for half an hour and serve this vegetarian delight garnished with chopped parsley.
  • Cook a fish in foil with chopped dates, butter, thyme and rosemary.
  • Rice with chicken and dates. Brown pieces of dates in butter, add chicken strips. Cook for a few minutes and serve with rice cooked in chicken broth seasoned with cloves. Garnish with slivered, dry roasted almonds and sesame seeds.

Choice and conservation

To choose

But there are more and more fresh dates at affordable prices.


Date syrup, as well as date sugar, can be obtained from Arab, Jewish and Indian grocery stores .

The syrup contains dehydrated and ground dates. It can be used in the same way as maple syrup: on pancakes, waffles, French toast, yogurt, or to glaze poultry. Mixed with tahini, it makes an excellent spread.

The sugar date of the slurry and concentrated sap, like maple sugar. In addition, companies offer all of these products on the Internet. You can replace refined sugar with date sugar in any dish. However, it must be taken into account that it does not dissolve, which in some cases may constitute a handicap.

To prepare

Soak the dry dates for a few hours in water to rehydrate them. You can also eat them as is, taking care to pass them underwater. This removes the syrup made of sugar which is often coated so that they retain a certain humidity.

Keep

Refrigerator . Put fresh dates in an airtight container because they easily absorb odors.

Dried or dehydrated , dates can be kept for 6 to 12 months, depending on the variety. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from light and heat, to protect them from mold.

The little story of dates

Common name: date.
Scientific name: Phoenix dactylifera.
Family: arecaceae (synonym: palmaceae).                                                       

The term ”  date  ” appeared in the French language in the XIII th  century. It comes from the Latin dactylus , which borrowed it from the Greek dactylos , the meaning of which is “finger”, by allusion to the shape of the fruit.

Phoenix , Latin name of the tree, comes either from “Phenicia”, or from “phoenix”, mythical bird of the Egyptians. From this word, we created ”  pheniciculture  “, “pheniculturist”, etc.

With coconut and palm oil, the date palm is palm more cultivated worldwide. Originating from the Euphrates basin, where the oldest civilizations of Eurasia have been established, it has been cultivated there for 6,000 to 8,000 years, which would make it one of the most anciently domesticated fruit trees. From its place of origin, it has spread west across North Africa and east to India. Some argue that without the date palm, the development of the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations would not have been possible, and the expansion of the human race in the arid parts of the Old World would have been much less.

The date palm is one of the rare plants able to survive in the inhospitable desert climate (very hot during the day, cold at night). Its fruits provided an important concentrated energy source for nomads  : 1 kilo of dry dates bringing about 3,000 calories. With an average consumption of 200 kilos per year per inhabitant, the date constituted for these people a basic food, to which one added milk, yogurt, cheese or butter in order to balance the ration. Even today, in the Near East and the Middle East, as well as in North Africa, although food has diversified, dates continue to play an important role. Almost 90% of the production is consumed locally.

In addition to providing fruit, the date palm has known many other uses. The trunk was used for the construction of the dwellings, the dense base of the palms for the manufacture of furniture, cases, crates, cages and many other useful objects, as well as firewood. The fibers were used to make ropes. The leaflets (the small leaves making up the large compound leaf) were used to make hats, fans, baskets. Finally, the stones were used as animal food and as jewelry. The date palm therefore enabled the peoples of the desert, isolated from the rest of the world, to live in relative self-sufficiency. This tree met most of their basic needs, hence the almost mystical veneration to which the date palm was subjected. His palms were used in many religious rituals, some of which still persist today, such as Palm Sunday for Catholics and Sukkot for Jews.


However, with the development, transport systems of the XX th  century, it became possible to connect the various desert oasis to sell products manufactured elsewhere. Plastic now replaces the wood, palms and leaflets of the date palm which were used to make everyday objects. The palm tree is today mainly cultivated for its fruits.

Global production dates , hovering around 7 million tonnes per year, has more than doubled since the 1980s This places the date at the 5 th  row of the fruit produced in arid and semi-arid, after the citrus, mango, banana and pineapple. It is a good first among dried fruits, before grapes, figs and prunes. It is produced in over 30 countries, the most important being Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Pakistan and Algeria.

In addition to the fruit, which is harvested at 3 different stages of its growth (fresh, semi-dry and dry), we consume date “honey” (the juice of the pressed fruit), date sugar and sap sugar as well as the terminal bud of the palm and the heart of the tree. We also make an alcohol from the sap and a coffee substitute from the roasted and ground kernels.

Ecology and environment

In the oases of the Saharan and pre-Saharan regions, the genetic heritage of the date palm is exceptional. In Algeria alone, over 940 varieties have been inventoried. This testifies to the immense selection work carried out by phoenicians over the centuries to maintain such a high number of varieties. These have very diverse characteristics as much by their degree of resistance to climatic hazards, diseases and insects, as by the shape, color, flavor and texture of their fruits. Experts believe that this genetic diversity constitutes a natural bulwark against the factors of degradation of the oasis ecosystem.

However, this genetic diversity is fragile and the preservation of many varieties is currently threatened, in particular because of commercial issues. In fact, to meet market demand for quality fruit, phoenix farmers are turning to a limited number of varieties with high commercial value. They thus abandon those which are less attractive in this regard, but which play an important role in ecosystem management.

A vast project has been set up with the aim of preserving the genetic resources of the date palm . It was created by the Ministries of Agriculture of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, with the collaboration of the International Institute for Plant Genetic Resources. It is funded by the United Nations Development Program and the Global Environment Facility. As part of a participatory approach bringing together all stakeholders in the sector, we are working to select and multiply the most endangered varieties. We are therefore trying to set up alternative markets to promote the products and by-products of date species that are little or not cultivated on a commercial scale (wood, palms, sap and unsaleable fruit to integrate into animal feeds).

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