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What is a Date Fruit? Basic Things You Need to Know About

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Date Fruit, first cultivated in ancient times, is a modern nutritional marvel

Perhaps you have attended a party or gala event, and while the trays of hors d’oeurves are being passed around, you are offered a date.

No, a date does not mean an invitation to dinner or a movie. The offer can be a delicious delicacy, a date fruit, one of the oldest cultivated fruit crops, first grown thousands of years ago on the shores of the Persian Gulf.

What is date fruit? Dates are actually the fruit product of the date palm, a tree native to the Middle East and Africa. Date palms grow thick clusters of date fruits below their fronds. Unripe date fruits are green in color, but they slowly turn yellow-orange as they mature. Fully ripe dates are a rich brown color with thick, glossy, sticky skin. The center of the sweet date flesh contains a small pit.

What is date fruit primarily used for?

You can eat dates whole either fresh or dried. Typically, dates have been part of traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean desserts and other recipes. Dates can mix well with nuts, lemon or orange peel, or other savory fillings. This fruit is also a perfect ingredient for baked goods such as bread, cakes, and pastries or used in puddings and yogurts. In addition, a date paste is made and is used to decorate candies and desserts by grinding. Dried dates are a popular and healthy snack.

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Furthermore, varieties of date fruit include the rare Black Sphinx date, along with more common Noor and Medjool date varieties. Additional varieties include Barhi, Barakawi, Golden Princess, Khalas, Halawy, Hilali, and Khadrawy.

Health Benefits

What are date fruit’s nutritional properties? Dates are an excellent source of nutrition, as they are high in vitamins, minerals, and protein. Dates contain potassium, fiber, calcium, folic acid, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. In addition, dates are rich in Vitamins A, A1, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and C. 

Dates are cholesterol-free, fat-free and sodium-free that is why it is a very nutritious fruit. Although dates are quite sweet, and often described as having a honey-like flavor, or referred to as “nature’s candy,” they actually have a minimal caloric amount. The average Medjool date only contains 23 calories. 

Dates are very beneficial in balancing the digestive system and preventing certain types of cancer such as abdominal cancer and intestinal cancer. Dates are also perfect food for pregnant or nursing women. This is because dates contain a substance called oxytocin, a chemical naturally secreted by the pituitary gland which strengthens the muscles of the uterus and helps produce milk for nursing mothers.

Where to Buy Dates

The next time you are craving a sweet snack, consider picking up a bag of dried dates. This is usually found in specialty online retail stores, and often in health food stores and high-end grocery stores.  Research recipes with dates, and consult your specialty grocery for local sources or distributors of fresh dates. 

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Finally, date lovers know that these delicious date fruits were first cultivated as early as 6000 BC. In fact, dates in ancient cultures serve as an energizing tonic with medicinal properties. Today, it is endorsed by nutritionists, medical experts, and organizations such as the American Cancer Society.

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