From tennis champion Novak Djokovic to blogging star Deliciously Ella, people are becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits of eating dates.
And, thanks to the first National Date Day on Tuesday, August 18, it is time for this forgotten fruit to get back in the spotlight. So, what’s so great about the date?
1. Dates are a tasty blast from the past
Dates, a sweet fruit with a creamy texture, have been popular for longer than you might think – civilisations as old as the Mesopotamians and Ancient Egyptians cultivated and consumed the sticky snack.
The edible dates, which grow in large clumps on date palms that can reach a height of up to 20 metres, are consumed on a large scale in the Middle East.
Traditionally, the date is the first food to be eaten as soon as the sun sets during Ramadan. However, their consumption is now gaining popularity with wider audiences.
2. A fruit with a following
Famous fans of the date are steadily pushing this timid fruit into the limelight. Djokovic, currently the best tennis player in the world, follows a gluten-free diet and says his healthy alternatives for dessert include the likes of “hydrated fruits, coconut oil, and dates”.
Moreover, Ella Woodward, the brain behind healthy food blog Deliciously Ella, is a big fan of the fruit. “Dates are quite possibly my favourite ingredient, I love that they taste as sweet as candy, but they’re filled with so much goodness,” she says. “Being so sweet, dates are the perfect healthier, low fat alternative to sugar or processed sweeteners, giving you a vitamin boost at the same time.”
3. Dates are a healthy fix for your sugary kicks
Nutritionist Carina Norris praises the date as a “useful natural sugar substitute, thanks to their high levels of natural fruit sugars”. Indeed, she explains how dates “cause a slower, healthier and more gradual rise in your blood sugar than you’d expect”.
Jackie Brown, a food technologist, agrees, stating that “dates are a great source of energy. They are high in fibre, which aids digestion and helps to reduce cholesterol, maintaining a healthy heart.”
The benefits of dates for when it comes to your bowel movements are also stressed by Charlotte Watts, nutritionist and author of The De-Stress Effect. She points out how dates are “high in soluble fibre, helping to keep our colon naturally clean and able to fully eliminate toxins”.
Moreover, recent research suggests the strong antioxidant activity present in dates may block the process that allows normal cells to be transformed into cancerous ones.
4. Eat a date, find a mate
Glistening dates, conveniently pitted or stoned, can be picked up from most supermarkets. This upcoming food trend is catching on steadily, with Waitrose reporting that their date sales have increased by 9% over the last few weeks.
To top it off, this extraordinary fruit is even rumoured to support one’s libido – it might be a clever move to have a date or two before your, erm, next date.