By Kenda Hettinger a recent ASU Nutrition student
Dates have grown in popularity as the whole food diet has grown in popularity. Dates are a good whole food sweetener. People add dates to their smoothies and desserts, I have even seen it added as a sweetener in barbeque sauce. Dates are in season in the southern part of Arizona June through November.
History of Dates
There are thousands of different species of dates, but the most commonly grown in the US are deglet noor and Medjool. They grow on palm trees and are best grown in hot and arid conditions. This is why they are grown in southern Arizona and California. Dates originated from somewhere around northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. They are a staple in the middle eastern diet. Dates were brought to the United States in the early 20th century by and agricultural explorer, Walter Swingle. Although the Middle East and Africa are still the largest producers of dates, American producers grown around 33,000 tons of dates per year.
One hundred grams (about 9) of dates contains 300 calories, 2.5 g protein, 75 g carbohydrates, 7.5 g fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols. Antioxidants and polyphenols are both prebiotics, which is crucial for gut health. According to the study, Impact of palm date consumption on microbiota growth and large intestinal health: a randomised, controlled, cross-over, human intervention study, the consumption of dates significantly increases bowel movements, reduces stool ammonia concentration, and reduced genotoxicity in human fecal water. This data suggests that dates may help to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. They are also thought to promote relaxation and reduce pain during labor. So ladies, grab yourself some local dates.
Eid, N., Osmanova, H., Natchez, C., Walton, G., Costabile, A., Gibson, G., Spencer, J. (2015). Impact of palm date consumption on microbiota growth and large intestinal health: A randomized, controlled, cross-over, human intervention study. 114(8), 1226-1236.