The date is a dark-brown, reddish, or yellowish-brown fruit that is oblong in shape. The flesh is astringent until it turns ripe It contains a single, cylindrical, very hard seed which has a groove on one side.
The date palm probably originated in the Persian Gulf and was abundant between the Nile and Euphrates rivers. It was regarded as a symbol of fertility and often depicted on coins. The date paln was planted at oases by nomads. The Arabs introduced dates to Spain. Iraq has always been formost in the production of dates. Dates have always been regarded as a staple food in countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, the Sudan, Arabia and Iran.
Fresh dates have less calories than dried dates. 4 oz fresh dates contain 100 calories while dried dates of the same weight contain 250 calories. Dates are high in iron and potassium. They are useful in anemia, constipation and fatigue.
Hundered grams of fresh dates provide a substantial amount of vitamin C and supplies 230 kcal (960 kJ) of energy. The process of drying causes dates to lose the Vitamin C they contain.
The date is an extremely nourishing fruit. It called the bread of the Sahara. Dates have a great deal of medicinal value. They are easy to digest and provide a lot of energyu.Datesare boiled in milk and given to people, especially children, who are recovering from an illness.
Dates have a laxatve effect and are very useful in the treatment of constipation. They need to be immersed in water overnight and then pureed with the reamining water bfore consuming in the morning.
Dates are also believed to strengthen the heart. Dates soaked overnight in water and then mashed along with the same water, taken twice a week, are said to be an effective remedy for a weak heart.
Dates are believed to prevent cartain types of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer.
The high tannin content of the fruit is makes it medically useful for intestinal problems. They can also be taken in the form of a syrup or a paste to treat a sore throat, cold, bronchial catarrh, fever, cystitis, gonorrhea, edema, liver and abdominal troubles.
Caution: Dates contain compounds that may cause headaches in certain individuals.
Choose dates that are plump and have an even colour. The dates should look fresh and not dry and withered. Fresh dates will keep for as long as two weeks in the refrigerator.
If you need to store dates to use after two or three weeks, place them in two ziplock bags and freeze them. Take them out of the freezer atleast an hour before they are needed to allow the to thaw.
Dates can be eaten as they are or stuffed with various fillings such as almonds, candied fruit peel etc. They can be used in cakes, desserts, breads and muffins. Dates are also used to make date syrup, date vinegar, date alcohol, date covered choclotaes, date paste, date sugar, and also a non-alcoholic champagne that is used on religous occasions such as Ramadan.
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