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The Date: A Gem of a Fruit
Known in the Middle East as “the tree of life”, the date palm looks quite a bit like the coconut palm tree. While ¾ of the world’s dates are grown in the Middle East, the majority of America’s date supply comes from California, Arizona and Texas. Date Palms grow well in these locations due to their hot and dry climates and alkaline soil. Dates are harvested in the late fall and early winter. However, they have a long storage life, and thus, are available all year.
A Staple Food in Raw Cuisine
The date is a staple food in raw cuisine, and why shouldn’t it be? It is sweet, delectable, and full of nutrition. The date owes its characteristic sweetness to his high natural sugar content, which can be as much as 70% in dried dates! This high sugar content also results in dates being relatively high in calories. One cup of chopped, pitted dates contains about 490 kcal.
The Date is both Nutritious and Delicious
Unlike some other high calorie foods, the date can be forgiven for this because it also packed with nutrition. Dates are an excellent source of many B vitamins, and the minerals copper, Potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. They also contain folic acid, zinc, and selenium.
An Excellent Source of Fiber
Dates are an excellent source of fiber. In fact, dates contain a unique type of fiber known as “Beta-D-glucan”, which has been shown to decrease the body’s absorption of cholesterol and to improve blood sugar levels by decreasing the absorption of glucose by the small intestine. Beta-D-glucan also decreases the rate at which the stomach empties after a meal, which increases feelings of satiety which can assist in weight loss.
The Three Types of Dates in the U.S.
There are three categories of dates that are sold in the United States. “Soft” dates are harvested prior to ripening, when they are still soft. “Semisoft” dates have firmer flesh than soft dates, but are also harvested before they ripen. “Dried” dates are left to ripen on the tree. Deglet Noor and Medjool dates are “semisoft” dates, and are among the varieties most commonly available in the United States. The most common soft variety is Barhi.
All of these dates are available either dried or fresh, and it can be difficult to tell which is being sold because fresh dates usually look wrinkled, and both types are typically packaged in the same way, in cellophane or plastic containers. Look for soft and semisoft dates that are glossy, smooth-skinned, and plump. It is fine if they are slightly wrinkled, but avoid cracked, dry, or broken dates. Dried dates should be considerably wrinkled, but should not be rock hard.
Soft and semisoft dates should be stored in an airtight container in order to protect them from odors from other food, which they readily absorb. If they are stored in the refrigerator, they will keep for eight months. Dried dates are not raw, as they are pasteurized to inhibit mold growth. Dried dates can be stored in the refrigerator for one year or will keep for up to five years if frozen.
When used in moderation, dates are a delicious and nutritious part of any diet!
Copyright 2009 RawPeople.com
Kitchen, Leanne. The produce bible. Australia: Murdoch Books, 2006.
Murray, Michael and Joseph Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of healing Foods. New York: Atria Books, 2005.
The preceding information is for education only and is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. It is valuable to seek the advice of an alternative health care professional before making any changes.
These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using these or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.