Scholars believe that dates were cultivated about 8,000 years ago in modern-day Iraq. They also believe that instead of apple, the Bible was referring to dates as the mentioned fruit in the Garden of Eden. There are over 200 varieties of dates with the large and caramel-like Medjool as the hardest type to grow and one of the most expensive.
The word “date” is derived from the Greek word daktylos which means “finger.” In the Middle East, the date palm is regarded as the “tree of life” and chosen as the national symbol of both Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Types of Dates
The Ajwa date is soft and dry, but it is very sweet to eat and feels smooth in your mouth. Some people think the Ajwa dates have healing properties, with one prophet even claiming that eating seven Ajwa dates every morning protects a person from poison and magic until evening time.
Some of the highest quality dates from the Medina region of Saudi Arabia, the Ambera dates, are very large and, in fact, they are known for their size. They are also known because of their natural healing powers, which is why many people in that area of the country eat them.
These dates are rich and have a syrupy flavor. They are also the smallest and most fragile type of date in existence. The firm skin and flesh turn amber, then golden brown when it is cured, and the fruit itself is small to medium in size. The Barhi date is also a late-ripening date.
These soft dates are heavy and sweet in flavor. Their shape consists of medium to large, and they are an oblong fruit that has soft flesh and red skin. When it ripens, the skin turns from red to amber, then to a golden brown when it is cured. Much like the Barhi dates, the Dayri dates ripen late in the season.
Deglet Noor Dates
A semi-dry date, the Deglet Noor is sweet and delicate in flavor, and it is known for its “true” date flavor. The Deglet Noor has fruit that is medium to large in size and skin that ripens from amber to a deep brown. The Deglet Noor date is great for cooking and ripens late in the season. The name itself means “date of the light.”
The main thing that makes dried dates unique is that they are allowed to sun-ripen on the tree.
Also spelled Halawi, these soft dates (the name Halawy means “sweet”) have a sweet honey flavor. It is a small to medium fruit with golden-brown skin and flesh that is tender. The Halawy dates ripen mid-way through the season, and they are perfect if you’re looking for a snack to eat right out of your hand.
Grown mostly in Egypt, these dates are dark-red or black in color and are both gentle and sweet.
Iteema dates are native to Algeria, and they are extremely sweet. With a mild amber color, Iteema dates are quite large and have an oblong shape to enjoy.
Kalmi dates are rich and dry, and they originated in Oman. Available especially when Ramadan occurs, the Kalmi date is a type of black date and is usually cylindrical in shape and very small. Because they are high in minerals such as potassium, Kalmi dates can help prevent diseases such as diarrhea.
Also known as Khadrawi dates, these dates are sweet and soft, but not overly sweet. They have a medium to large oblong shape, and this fruit starts out as an orange-brown and then changes to light-brown, although the flesh remains firm. They are considered by experts to be some of the best dates in both texture and flavor, especially if you eat them while they’re fresh. The Khadrawy dates ripen in mid-season and in fact, do not keep well. Therefore, they should always be eaten fresh.
When cured, the Khola dates have a sweet caramel flavor. They are even sticky when they are fresh, similar to caramels, and, in many parts of the world, they are consumed with Arabic coffee. Loose-skinned, the Khola dates originated in the Al Kharj and Al Qaseem regions of Saudi Arabia.
These sweet dates are dark-brown in color and have skin that is wrinkled. They come in both small and large sizes, and they are the favorite of all of the exported dates due to their reasonable prices and their freshness. For energy and refreshment, you can’t beat the Khudri date.
Known as high-quality or premium dates, the Mabroom dates are naturally rich in antioxidants and minerals, and they are also very chewy and sweet.
These dates are quite large, and they have thick skin and a reddish-brown color. They are moderately sweet and a gentle variety of dates and they are perfect for those who love dates, but whose sweet tooth isn’t as strong as other people’s.
Also called the Medjul dates, these dates have soft skin and a rich, delicious, sweet taste. They also have a texture that is a little bit fibrous. The fruit is large to very large in size, and it turns from amber to a reddish-brown as it cures and ripens. Because they are so moist, they are perfect for eating fresh, and they ripen early in the season.
Also known as Mejraf dates, they are extremely popular in areas such as Southern Yemen, in part because they are such high-quality dates. These large dates have a golden amber color and are attractive as well as tasty.
The Safawi dates are black and have a fleshy texture. They have a very sweet taste and are filled with vitamins. Cultivated in Madinah, the Safawi dates are soft and known for their healing properties. If you eat these dates on an empty stomach, they can kill stomach worms, and they are also well-known for their high mineral content.
Saghai dates are cultivated in Riyadh and are crisp, not soft. They usually have a brown color but are light-yellow at the tips. These are wrinkly dates, but they never flake. Once you taste them, you’ll end up buying them again.
Very popular in places such as Libya, Saidy dates are extremely sweet and tasty. They are also grown mostly in areas where there is a lot of hot weather, which seems to make them grow a lot better.
Like soft dates, the semi-soft dates are harvested while unripe. However, these dates have flesh that is a bit firmer than the soft dates. Examples include the Deglet Noor, the Medjool, and the Zahidi.
All soft dates are harvested when they are still soft and unripe. The Barhi dates are a type of soft date.
A crisp and very sweet date, they are a high-quality date thought to be both very nutritious and good for healing. In fact, the Sukkari date can prevent tooth decay, lower your cholesterol, and help eliminate the fatigue in your life. They come from the Al Qaseem region of Saudi Arabia.
These dates are fairly dry and have a sweet, nutty flavor. They are called the bread date because they are perfect for baking. The fruit is medium to large oblong in shape with golden-brown flesh. Like other types of dates, the Thoory dates ripen late in the season.
These dates are very large and very popular, thanks to their small seed and large, fleshy form. They are also one of the most expensive varieties of dates, but well worth the price. Anbara dates are filled with protein, and they are sweet and brown.
These semi-dry dates have a sweet and sugary flavor, and this medium-sized fruit has smooth, glossy skin. The meaty flesh is a golden-yellow color and full of syrup. You can use Zahidi dates for cooking and eating right out of your hand. An early-ripening date, the Zahidi keeps well and does especially well in baked goods.
Benefits of Eating Dates
Dates are often called a laxative food, and, for this reason, people suffering from constipation eat them frequently. If you want to get the full laxative effect, soak the dates in water overnight, then eat them first thing in the morning. Dates are high in soluble fiber, which is crucial because it promotes healthy bowel movements and also the passage of food comfortably through the intestines. This, in turn, relieves the symptoms of constipation.
It Can Make Your Bones Stronger
Dried fruits are usually very good for making your bones stronger, mainly because there are large amounts of minerals found in them. Dates can fight off debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis, and the organic pitted variety contains minerals such as copper, selenium, manganese, and magnesium. All of these minerals are important for the strength and development of your bones, especially as you get older and your bones start to weaken.
Good for Certain Intestinal Disorders
Because dates have amounts of nicotine in them, they are thought to be good for certain types of intestinal disorders. If you eat dates on a regular basis, they can actually inhibit the growth of organisms that are pathological in nature. This helps to stimulate the growth of the “good” bacteria in the intestines. Moreover, since they contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, along with numerous amino acids that stimulate the digestion of food and make that food more efficient, more nutrients are absorbed that will end up in your body for the proper use.
Help You Gain Weight
Dates are a great part of an overall healthy diet, and they consist of proteins, sugar, and numerous essential vitamins. If you consume them with cucumber paste, your weight can be kept at a safe and balanced level. The Medjool dates are especially healthy, and since one kilogram of dates has nearly 3,000 calories, this is sufficient to meet your body’s daily vitamin and mineral requirements, In addition, they can help you put on some weight if this is what you need to do.
It Can Help Make Your Heart Healthier
Dates are a heart-healthy fruit. When they are soaked in water overnight, crushed in the morning, and eaten immediately, they have even been known to have a positive effect on hearts that are weak. Dates have a lot of potassium in them, which has been proven to reduce your risk of heart-related diseases such as stroke. In addition, they can reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, which many studies have proven to contribute greatly to heart attacks and strokes. If you need your heart made healthier, it is recommended that you consume dates in this way twice a week.
Relieve the Effects of Intoxication
If you’ve had too much alcohol to drink, dates can both sober you up and almost immediately make you feel better. Once again, soaking the dates overnight and eating them first thing in the morning works best, and if you have a severe hangover, this method of preparing dates can make you feel a whole lot better.
It is Good for Anemia
Since dates have so many minerals, including iron, they are a great dietary supplement for anyone who is suffering from anemia. They not only contain iron, but they contain high levels of it, which reduces fatigue and sluggishness and increases both strength and energy. If you like, you can add the dates to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning. They are a perfect addition to these types of foods.
Great for Various Types of Allergies
This is something many people don’t know about dates, but, since they contain so much organic sulfur, they have been proven to reduce seasonal allergies and many different allergic reactions. Overall, organic sulfur is not found in very many foods, but this ingredient has a large number of health benefits. They have even been found to be beneficial to people who suffer from Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, or SAR, which roughly 23-million people in the United States alone suffer from each year. All seasonal allergies and allergic reactions have been proven to benefit from organic sulfur, which is found in large amounts in dates.
Great for the Nervous System
As you age, your nervous system can become sluggish, and, because of their high potassium and vitamin content, dates can help your nervous system become healthier and more responsive. It improves the alertness and the speed of activity in the brain and keeps your nervous system functioning the way it is supposed to. For elderly people or those who wish to remain sharp and focused, eating dates regularly is a great way to do this.
Dates Can Increase Your Energy Level
Because dates have a lot of natural sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose, they can be the perfect snack when you’re needing an immediate increase in energy. If you are feeling sluggish or lethargic in the afternoon, pop some all-natural, fat-free dates in your mouth for a quick pick-me-up. You can even use them as a post-workout snack, and just chewing a few of them can boost your energy immediately.
Great for Night Blindness
In many areas of the world, where all-natural cures are preferred over regular medical care, dates have been used to fight off and reduce night blindness. You simply consume the dates before you work or drive in the dark. To improve conditions related to the ear, nose, and throat, simply take the leaves of the date palms and ground them into a paste. Then, rub the mixture on and around the eyes. For night blindness, you can take them orally or use the paste because both of these methods seem to help this condition.
It Makes a Great Aphrodisiac!
When it comes to sexual problems and conditions, dates seem to help with all of them. If you soak a handful of dates in some fresh goat’s milk overnight and then grind them with milk and some honey and cardamom powder in the morning, the resulting mixture becomes a perfect tonic for sexual dysfunctions. It can increase sexual stamina and endurance, and it has even been known to reduce the sterility that is sometimes caused by various sexual disorders. Because of a study completed in 2006, which showed the beneficial effects of date palms and their oil, as well as high levels of flavonoid components and estradiol, dates are known to increase sperm count, increase the size and weight of testes, and give you a masculine boost for all of your sexual activities. In other words, dates can be a great aphrodisiac.
Great for Diarrhea
Just as it is known to help with constipation, the potassium in dates also can eliminate diarrhea. Dates are easy to digest and can be eaten at any time, so if you’re suffering from diarrhea, all you have to do is pop a few of them in your mouth. The soluble fiber in dates provides bulk to your bowel movements and, therefore, stops diarrhea in its tracks. It also promotes healthy, normal functioning of your excretory system.
Reduces the Chances of Abdominal Cancer
You can reduce the risk as well as the impact of abdominal cancer by eating dates on a regular basis. In some age groups, in fact, dates have been shown to be more beneficial in fighting off abdominal cancer than many traditional medicines. They have no negative side effects because they are all-natural, and they are quickly digested as well. Date sugar, which consists of the dried variety that has been ground into tiny pieces, is yummy and produces the exact same effects.
It Improves the Look of Your Skin
The vitamins C and D in dates work on the elasticity of your skin and keep it smooth, as well. If you also have skin problems, eating dates regularly will likely help in the long run. In addition, dates come with certain anti-aging benefits, and they can even prevent the melanin in your body from accumulating.
A Healthy Way to Eat
Dates can be eaten in many different ways, and in every one of them, they can improve your health. You can eat them by themselves because their natural sugars are great when added to breakfast cereals, or you can even have them as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. If you switch to date syrup, you can stop using refined sugar, and if you want something to eat with your coffee, try jaggery, which is made from the palms of dates and is absolutely delicious. You can also use dates for baking by adding them to slices of bread and cakes of all types, as well as other baked goods. If you keep a box of dates in your refrigerator, you can easily pop a few of them in your mouth at any time, and you’ll feel good when you know that you are doing something beneficial for your body.
Good for Dental Health
In addition to minerals that are good for bones and teeth, dates also have a lot of fluorine, which inhibits tooth decay by both strengthening the enamel of the tooth and removing plaque. Tooth enamel is made up of hydroxyapatites, which resists tooth decay when it comes in contact with fluorine, providing for overall better health for your teeth and gums.
Good for Pregnant Women
Unlike many all-natural foods, dates have no negative side effects for women who are nursing or pregnant, nor do they harm the fetus in any way. Because of their levels of iron, dates can prevent anemia from occurring, for both the fetus and the mother. They also improve the uterine muscles, helping prepare for childbirth, and they can provide the nutrition the mother needs to produce milk. In addition, they can prevent hemorrhaging after childbirth itself, and these are just a few of the benefits this fruit provides to pregnant women and their babies.
Help Improve Your Hair
Because dates have so many vitamins, including vitamin B-5, they are great for a variety of hair problems. B-5 is essential for maintaining healthy hair, and eating dates can help with hair loss, split ends, and brittle hair. Regular consumption of dates can help minimize these and other problems related to your hair.