Dates have been a staple food in the Middle East and South Asia for a very long time. There is archeological evidence in fact that shows cultivation of the fruit as far back as the days of Mesopotamia, around 4000 B.C.
Few fruits and their trees are as versatile as dates. In India, the date palm’s sweet sap is tapped and this can then be processed into sugar, fermented into an alcoholic beverage, or further made into vinegar. Young palm leaves, terminal buds, and flowers are all edible and prepared as vegetables in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines.
Dates are carbohydrate-rich like most staple food. But this quality can also become a disadvantage if understood and used poorly. Read on and learn about the pros and cons of dates.
The fruit is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber and potassium. 100 grams of this fruit will provide this much of each of these three nutrients:
- 75 grams of carbohydrates
- 8 grams of dietary fiber
- 656 milligrams of potassium
As you may know, carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel for energy. The small amount of a hundred grams of the fruit already contains about 280 kilo calories. A more conventional adult serving will likely supply adequate energy for the day.
The soluble and insoluble dietary fiber in dates meanwhile can offer both digestive and cardiovascular benefits. Soluble fiber acts to slow the pace of carbohydrate breakdown and lower cholesterol levels. The insoluble type can help promote regular bowel movement. Dates are known for their laxative effect which can be a benefit for those experiencing constipation.
Potassium is an essential mineral because it is one of the necessary electrolytes along with sodium that helps your body maintain a proper balance of fluids. Electrolyte minerals also play a crucial role in the way the nervous system transmits nerve signals. Eating potassium rich foods such as dates keeps both your fluid balance and nerves functional and healthy.
A fully ripe date can contain up to 80% sugar. That in itself is not a bad thing and is actually part of what makes the fruit a good energy provider. But for individuals with sedentary lifestyles, consuming such high-calorie food may lead to unhealthy weight gain. Remember that one of the basic principles of maintaining proper body weight is to consume just the right amount of calories that you spend.
The fruit naturally has a relatively high glycemic index, given the amount of sugar it contains. Those already afflicted with diabetes will have to really limit their consumption of dates or avoid it altogether.
Date Practical Uses:
Dried dates are probably the most frequently available form of the fruit but some farmers’ markets or specialty grocers may have a supply of fresh ones in season. In any case, dry or fresh dates are always good to eat out of hand.
Another typical way to prepare the fruit is to pit and add various fillings. To take out the seed:
- Make a shallow cut lengthwise until you reach the pit.
- Rotate the date with the knife still in so the cut goes all around.
- Separate the two halves and remove the pit.
From there you can put in the filling of choice. Some use cream cheese with chopped almonds which can be eaten as is. Others, for a more Middle Eastern flavor, use a paste made of pistachios, orange juice and zest, flavored with a little salt.
You can actually make your own date sugar from the fresh fruit.
- Pit and arrange the cut pieces on a baking sheet.
- Bake for at least two hours at around 280 degrees and then leave them in oven overnight just to make sure they’re dry and hard.
- Ground pieces in a coffee grinder.
This can be a good substitute for table sugar in recipes where sugar is not required to melt. Some recommend an equivalence of 2/3 cup date sugar to 1 cup regular sugar.
In the next post, I’ll tell you the pros and cons of figs and how to moderately use it in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the fruits on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
If you have questions, comments or feedback about the pros and cons of dates, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on the pros and cons of dates.