Due to popular request, I’ve assembled yet further Date Fruit findings. Note that I am not making any absolute claims. This is simply “cool shit” that I dug up/assembled scattered across various books, scientific journals, medical journals, and online which I think is noteworthy a post.
It’s hard to find stuff on dates, especially since they are called “date” and googling for it gives you nothing, really.
Nevertheless, it is my personal opinion that this is a very “special” food that deserves to be put in the spotlight. It does seem to have many powerful uses and benefits, but I will leave that up to the readers discretion. There are plenty of links below for you to dig into.
Date Fruit for “Love” and Other Research
It was Hippocrates who was known for teaching “food as medicine”, and herbal medicines are growing in demand in the developed world. Most notably so for their efficacy, safety, and lesser side effects.
One “food” that continuously springs to the top of my list is the date fruit.
It has proven to enhance the quality of mothers milk because it contains oxytocin (the “love hormone”), enrich mothers milk, increase energy as well as being immediately digestible, support weight loss, a powerful appetite suppressant, high in vitamins, rich in fiber, cultures that regularly consume dates show a low incidence rate of cancer and heart disease, a powerful anti-parasitic tool (you will upset whatever lives inside you if you eat too many, which is good, I guess, if that’s your aim), etc… For further “cool date facts” see my Part 1 date post.
Like cacao, figs, and coconut, the date palm is also a primeval plant. It has been cultivated for its edible fruit in the Arab world for centuries. It is one of the oldest plants on earth with around 50 million years, give or take, it is the oldest harvested and cultivated source of food, with archeological evidence from six thousand years ago in Arabia proving this fact. Called the “Tree of Life,” the date palm is said in Muslim legend to have been made from the dust that was left over after the creation of Adam, and it was probably the first cultivated tree in history, having been grown in the Holy Land for at least 8,000 years. Directions for growing it are recorded on sun-baked bricks made in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. The palm family is a symbol of prosperity and love to Muslims and legend dates back to Judeo-Christian mythology. In local medicinal practices, dates are considered a “tonic” and “aphrodisiac” (studies have shown date seed oil to improve sperm function), and in some communities they are thought to be useful against ulcers. No fewer than 800 uses are recorded for the date palm.
Experimentally, date extracts have been shown to increase sperm count in guinea pigs and to enhance spermatogenesis and increase the concentration of testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone in rats. In Egypt the pollen grains of the date palm have been used to improve fertility in women.
Date pits have even been included in animal feed to enhance growth (the action of which has been ascribed to an increase in the plasma level of estrogens or testosterone).
It is also a gentle liver cleanser. An interesting study conducted showed that extracts from dates even ameliorated CCl4-induced liver damage in rats. Many Middle Easteners believe that consumption of dates, particularly in the mornings on an empty stomach can reverse the actions of any toxic material a subject may have been exposed to. It is a common practice to consume dates upon entering a fast as well as breaking one (especially during Ramadan).
The date fruit has been found to be significantly useful in terms of mineral sources, particularly iron, nickel, chromium, copper, zinc and selenium.
Despite their reputation they are also among the most alkaline of foods containing a special type of soluble fiber called beta-d-glucan. Which has been shown to decrease the body’s absorption of cholesterol and to slow or delay absorption of glucose in the small intestine, helping to keep blood sugar levels even.
Further links on ^- that here.
The date pits are also regarded as an excellent source of dietary fiber and contain considerable amounts of minerals, lipids and protein. In addition to its dietary use the dates are of medicinal use and are used to treat a variety of ailments in the various traditional systems of medicine. Studies have shown the fruits to possess free radical scavenging, antioxidant, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, anticancer and immunostimulant activities.
The paper “A review of the chemistry and pharmacology of the date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera L.)” contains further good information of the date fruits and seeds. < -Its a very good article.
Dates also have high tannin content and are used medicinally as a detersive (cleansing power) and astringent in intestinal troubles. Not only is the fruit and seed used but the rest of the tree also has a record in traditional medicinal uses. For example, a gum that exudes from the wounded trunk is employed in India for treating diarrhea and genito-urinary ailments. The roots are used against toothache. The pollen also yields an estrogenic principle, estrone, and has a gonadotropic effect on young rats.
Dates also contain certain stimulants, which assist in the strengthening of the muscles of the womb leading to easier delivery. Dates make an ideal high-energy food for nursing mothers because of their sugar content and oxytocin content.
Interestingly enough recent research coincides with the Quoran’s story of Maryam giving birth. Experiments have also shown that dates contain some stimulants that strengthen the muscles of the uterus in the last months of pregnancy.
For men, the in vitro supplementation with date seed oil (DSO) has shown to improve sperm function, possibly owing to antioxidant properties. An interesting study concluded that supplementation with DSO may have a function in antioxidant protection against male infertility.
“We tested the antioxidant effects of DSO on human sperm motility, sperm viability, reacted acrosome and lipid peroxidation assessed in vitro after H2O2-mediated oxidative damage in spermatozoa. Sixteen patients (mean age: 35 years; range: 25–45 years) referred to the Histology–Embryology Laboratory of the Medicine Faculty of Sfax for semen analysis after 12–24 months of sexual intercourse without conception were selected. After spermiogram, sperm selection by two-interface discontinuous Sill Select gradient was performed, and selected spermatozoa were used in four experimental assays: control; incubation with 100 mum H2O2; incubation with 0.1% DSO; and co-incubation with 0.1% DSO and 100 mum H2O2. Motility and viability were determined using World Health Organization criteria. Acrosome reaction and lipid peroxidation were assessed by staining with fluorescein isothiocyanate-Pisum sativum and spectrophotometric measurement of malondialdehyde, respectively. Results showed that incubation with H2O2 alone led to a significant increase in lipid peroxidation (57.83%, P < 0.05) associated with a significant decrease in sperm motility, sperm viability (after 30 min and 24 h) and percentage of reacted acrosome (P < 0.05). Date seed oil improved sperm motility after 24 h of incubation (P < 0.05) and protected spermatozoa against the deleterious effects of H2O2 on motility, viability, acrosome reaction and lipid peroxidation."
Nutritional Composition Depending on Variety and Maturity
The date fruit’s nutritional composition varies at its three different stages of maturation. These are called khalal, rutab and tamr. For example the younger dates have a higher count of amino acids and organic acid.
To quote the abstract from “Carotenoid composition of Algerian date varieties (Phoenix dactylifera) at different edible maturation stages”:
“Chromatographic analysis showed that the major carotenoid pigment present in dates is lutein followed by ?-carotene, with an evident carotenoid disappearance during ripening from the khallal to the tamr stage. The different date fruits present a total carotenoid content in the range of 61.7–167, 32.6–672, and 37.3–773 ?g/100 g fresh weight (FW) in Deglet-nour, Tantebouchte and Hamraya varieties, respectively.”
Results in another study showed that sugar and organic acid concentration were different depending on the date palm. The highest levels where reached at the rutab stage (100%), with glucose and fructose being the predominant sugars and malic acid as the major organic acid. Hydrophilic total antioxidant activity (HTAA) was high and correlated to phenolic content, with maxima levels being found at early, medium or late khalal stages (depending on date palm).
In other studies fresh date varieties where found to be good sources of antioxidants, anthocyanins, carotenoids, phenolics, free phenolic acids, and bound phenolic acids. Significant amount of antioxidants and carotenoids where lost after sun-drying of the dates, whereas the total content of phenolics and free and bound phenolic acids increased significantly. Anthocyanins were detected only in fresh dates.
Other studies of dry fruits have also shown that, if consumed as part of the human diet on a regular basis, dates could provide rich sources of micro and macronutrients.
There are dozens of such studies documenting the varying nutritional states of the date fruit (enough to bust your brain on) but from my research I would conclude that the “best” date fruit is one that has been palm ripened and consumed directly from the palm… or as close as possible to that.
In short: buy it from a farmer that you know! <3
The following are date farms that I highly recommend who all have “mail order” date services.
Quality California Sellers:
GARDEN OF EDEN ORGANICS
Is a community supported agriculture program. It is a new business just started by a lovely couple very passionate and dedicated to organic and high quality produce. They carry some of the best dates I’ve tried so far.
These dates are certified organic, very soft, oozing with syrupy richness, and super dark. Much like the caramel of the date fruit they are literally palm candy.
Their farm grows both barhi and medjool. They are palm ripened, and shipped straight to your door.
The couple that grows them, takes quality very personally and to heart (what they do is evidently a passion), and they are very open about their manufacturing and processing… so feel free to ask if you have “special needs” or concerns. Quality and “customer satisfaction” is a high concern for them.
It is only off season (dates are seasonal) in which they freeze their dates, but they do not steam them or any of the other methods traditionally employed during date manufacturing. Even then they are hesitant about freezing. From all the sellers they are among those that I trust the most.
You can contact them on their site to order.
-Garden of Eden Organics Dates
DATES BY DAVALL
Davall is another local California farmer that takes their dates personally. They often sell at farmers markets but are now available to order online. They give their dates little to no treatment. They are often sold the day they where picked (sundried on the palm, picked, packed, and sold that day). There is no other fruit out there that compares to a fresh palm-ripened date. They are amazing. They sell a large variety of dates most notably their “honey dates” which is unique to the farm. These taste like a combination of honey and dates (obvious by the name), and you would think that you just discovered manna.
Davall says his uncle couldn’t afford to buy date cultivars from Algeria. So he obtained 250 seeds of wild dates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, grew them out and selected the six most promising. He then grew those to fruition and settled on the two best, which Davall sells to this day as empress and honey dates. The honey is sweet and creamy, the empress chewier, with a caramel flavor.
Davall is a strong part of “California Date History” and the farm is widely known for the quality and variety of their dates.
If you happen to find Davall here at the Irvine farmers market, or the other markets they attend, grab yourself a pack! You’ll end up in date-honey-heaven.
Their barhi dates are also available at The Raw Food World.
-Dates by Davall
THE DATE PEOPLE (Religiously Raw and Natural)
Sell the greatest variety of date varieties, which is a lot of variety. For example Black Abbada which are described as the “chocolate” of the date fruit and are highly mineral dense.
I recommend their sample basket, which makes a great gift.
Their dates are grown organically although they are not certified… as they describe it: “In accordance with the laws of nature”. Which is pretty “beyond organic”.
They are openly dedicated to being raw, and do not process or “store” them in any way whatsoever. Period.
If you are religiously raw among the religiously raw then they are your best bet.
They pick them and ship them to you. These dates are grown in a very remote location, and their history is an interesting one.
-Black Abbada from The Date People
SAN MARCOS DATE FARM
They are very inexpensive, family owned <3 , dedicated to quality, and honest about how they grow them.
Their dates are plump and juicy fresh out of the sun’s oven, just like tree grown sweet buns.
The per pound prices are economical (jumbo medjools for $5.50 per lb).
The farm is a family run business and they take scrupulous care of their palms and fruits. They do not use pesticides. The use of chemicals or pesticides is deemed unnecessary because the dates are always bagged when they begin to ripen. They only freeze their dates off season, and they are open about this, so if you have “special needs” just ask!
-Sunbaked Buns From San Marcos Date Farm
I buy from all these sellers and, juggling between them, I always have dates that are “in season”.
Resources, References, And Links:
“Two date cultivars grown in the New Valley Governorate, Egypt Saidy date (semi-dry variety) and Balady date (dry variety) were studied for their total amino acid, organic acid and free sugar compositions. One of the seedling dates was also investigated. Thin-layer chromatographic technique revealed that all the ten essential amino acids were present in variable levels in all studied samples. However, their levels gradually decreased in ripening stages of Saidy date. Balady date had highest levels of histidine, lysine and arginine, while seedling date fruits contained the highest levels of threonine, methionine, valine, leucine–isoleucine mixture, phenylalanine and tryptophan…”
“Date is sweet, tasty and gourmand fruit full of calcium, phosphor, magnesium and essential vitamins for body health.
Since date has large amount of iron, one can satisfy his needs by eating 15 grs daily as to iron requirement of the body and remove consequences due to shortage of iron.
Date is effective in treatment of infantile paralysis and it is recommended to give some grains of date to children suffering infantile paralysis. Date is quite advantageous for human being since it strengthens the nerve system.
Date has extraordinary importance due to its magnesium since magnesium is recognized very helpful for kidney and vesica. One can provide the required daily magnesium by eating 2-3 grains of date.
Date has sweet taste and humor removing property. It is possible to boil 60 GRS of date in one litter of water and use it for head cold, sore throat and all the pulmonary infections.
Persons suffering diabetes can use date instead of industrial sugar like sugar beet or sugar cane since the existing magnesium within date help the operation of pancreas and kidney on the other hand vitamin B2 within date absorbs sugar components of other foodstuffs.
Nutritious, health, medical and industrial value of the date is not fully recognized. The researchers all over the world is searching and investigating in the matter.”