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Properties of dates and health benefits

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Dates are small fruits that we consume as dried fruit and that little by little have been entering our kitchen. It is becoming more and more common to find dates in greengrocers and supermarkets as it is a fruit that is “in fashion”.

One of the reasons for its growing popularity is the desire to achieve a sweet taste without having to add sugar to baked goods. Thus, it is a fairly common component in the entire range of sweet preparations that we frame under the “healthy” label.

Nutritional composition of dates

The fact is that it is a naturally dried fruit , for this reason, its nutritional density is high, since in the drying process what happens is that the amount of water in the product decreases and its nutrients are increased. At the nutritional level, its content stands out in:

  • Sugars
  • Fiber (soluble and insoluble)
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Provitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin B3 and vitamin C

Recommended for …

  • Athletes : This is a useful way of transporting concentrated nutrients for endurance athletes. In addition, its high potassium and sugar content can be very useful for muscle recovery.
  • Children : its sweetness is usually liked, although the texture is not always well accepted. They are very practical to make sweets without added sugar, since dates already provide a good amount and, therefore, sweetness, to different recipes.
  • Constipation : dates contain a not inconsiderable amount of fiber that will help improve intestinal transit.

Not recommended for …

  • People with dental cavities: the amount of sugar they contain and their sticky consistency make them a food that will promote the development of dental cavities . It is important to take this factor into account when brushing your teeth after eating them.
  • Weight loss diets: fresh figs can be consumed, but not abused, since it is a product that, when losing water, contains a high percentage of sugars.
  • Potassium-restricted diets: like most fruits, the potassium content of figs is not negligible at all, so we must limit its consumption in diets with a controlled potassium intake, as may be the case in people with kidney disease.
  • Diet-related migraine cases: dates contain tyramine, which has a vasoconstrictive effect that can cause migraine in people with a tendency to suffer from this type of headache.

Types of dates

There are different varieties with their differences. They are generally classified as soft, semi dry and dry . By

  • Medjool dates, soft dates, very sugary and due to their soft texture, juiciness and sweetness, they are very good allies in baking.
  • The Deglet Noor, semi-dry, are originally from Tunisia and can be consumed with sweet and savory. They are probably the most common variety in the markets.
  • Other varieties are the Khadrawy, also very sweet, the Halawy or the Barhi that are eaten fresh, without drying.

Its versatility is almost infinite and we can find recipes with dates in both sweet and savory preparations .

As starters we can make tapas, tartlets, skewers or fill them. They go well with cheese, meats and vegetables. In main dishes they can be a perfect accompaniment. They can be used in salads, in stews with rice, with legumes , accompanying meats (chicken or turkey), even with fish. In desserts it can accompany ice cream, cakes or pasta. Also, for breakfast with cereal flakes, muesli … And they can complement fruits, such as pear, and nuts very well .

How to keep them longer

As they are dried fruits with a high density of sugars and little water, they are not very perishable and can be kept well for months . However, it is important to take into account a number of considerations. Once acquired, we can keep them in a closed glass container, in a cool place protected from light . In plastic containers they are more likely to suffer mold. On the contrary, if they are kept in the air or in containers that do not close, they will dry out more, in addition to having the risk of insects reaching them.

What you should know…
  • Season: although we can savor dates throughout the year, they ripen in autumn and we can find freshly picked dates in the markets during October and November.
  • Benefits: they are rich in fiber, vitamins like beta-carotene and minerals like potassium.
  • Ideal for: athletes, children and people who suffer from constipation.

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