Date is termed as a crown of sweets and ideal food which easily balances and digests food. It gives extra energy to a tired human body within half an hour after taking it. They are considered to be the best diet for the women.
Botanical Name – Phoenix dactylifera
Family Name – Pinaceae
The tree is tall, up to 36 meter in height, cultivated or occasionally found self grown. Its trunk covered with persistent bases of petioles, the base usually surrounded by a mass of offshoots or suckers;
Leaves in open crown, pinnate, up to 5 m long, grayish green; Pinnae 20- 40 cm long, linear keeled, lower pinnae modified into spines;
Flowers are in branched spadices and small.
Fruit is oblong berry, 2.5 – 7.5cm long reddish or yellowish brown when ripe.
Date palm has been known to exist from prehistoric times in the warm dry zones. It is believed to be indigenous to Persian Gulf, Iran being the most important center of this fruit production.
PARTS USED –
Nutritive, tonic, demulcent, expectorant, laxative and aphrodisiac
FORMS OF USE –
Fruit is eaten raw. Dried fruit is also used.
Nutritional Value –
They are rich in sugars and are eaten fresh or dried. They form an important item of food in the Arabian countries from time immemorial.
Analysis of the edible matter of freshly dried dates (edible matter 86%, seed 14%) gave following result (per 100 gm):
• Moisture – 15.3%
• Protein – 2.5%
• Fat – 0.4%
• Carbohydrate – 75.8%
• Fiber – 4%
• Mineral water – 2.1%
• Phosphorus – 0.05 mg
• Calcium – 0.12 mg
• Iron – 7.3 mg
• Beta Carotene – 44 I.U.
• Thiamine (B1) – 0.011 mg
• Riboflavin (B2) – 0.023 mg
• Nicotinic acid – 0.9 mg
• Ascorbic acid – 3 mg
• Caloric value – 317
The mineral composition of dried dates is as follows:
• Potassium – 754 mg
• Calcium – 67.9 mg
• Magnesium – 58.5 mg
• Iron – 1.61 mg
• Copper – 0.21 mg
• Phosphorus – 63.8 mg
• Sulfur – 51.0 mg per 100 gm
Presence of zinc, arsenic, and iodine is also reported.
The main components of ripe variety are sugars (85% of total solids) mainly sucrose and invert sugar (glucose + fructose).
Analysis of edible portion (86%) of the dried hard preserved variety gave the following composition:
• Moisture – 11.9%
• Protein – 2.9%
• Fat – 0.5%
• Carbohydrate – 83%
• Ash – 1.8%
• Calcium – 36 mg
• Phosphorus – 130 mg
• Iron – 3.5 mg
• Caloric value – 347 cal per 100 gm
PRODUCTS OR PRESERVATION –
They are widely used in bakery preserves or added in cakes and in dishes with milk, butter, meat, etc. A type of honey is also prepared from them. They can be canned as a paste after pitting, grinding and mixing with invert sugar syrup. Their syrup (invert sugar, 70%) is obtained by extracting the fruit pulp, hot water and concentrating them in vacuum. This syrup has a mild sweet taste and it is used in the manufacture of gingerbread.
American Cancer Society recommends intake of 20-35 grams of dietary fiber in a day, supplied through dates. It is said that taking one date in a day will help you to maintain your healthy eyes for your lifetime. They are quiet effective in guarding the night blindness problems.
Read about their medicinal uses and health benefits in the next article....
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