It is winter and that time of the year when eating is a treat. Be it Gajjak, Rewri or Gajar ka halwa, all our favourite dishes are available exclusively during winters. Here is a seasonal hit that will not only keep your body warm and cosy, but definitely leave you to crave for more – ‘Dates’. Though it is sweet in taste, but it is actually not bad for health. Its health benefits are plenty especially during the winter season:
No cholesterol, no fat, no sodium: Dates are incredibly heart-healthy food. Containing no sodium, no bad saturated fat and no cholesterol, dates can lower the risk for heart disease or heart attack and high blood pressure.
High in vitamins: This powerhouse of fruit is loaded with essential vitamins. Consuming them regularly means taking plenty of vitamin A, K and B-6 along with niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. Eating them every day is truly like consuming multi-vitamin. Also packed with vitamin C, dates help in maintaining and improving skin’s elasticity and provide you with a tenderer and smoother skin. Dates soothe and hydrate the skin helping it to retain the moisture level. It may help in averting the damages caused by free radicals and help in combatting skin disorders. The vitamin B content of dates help you make your hair healthier – they help improve brittle and dry hair and also hair-loss by nourishing hair follicles.
Rich source of minerals: Dates are packed with minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, niacin, selenium, copper, manganese and organic sulphur. Calcium is an absolutely essential mineral that helps support development of healthy teeth, bones, muscles and much more. It plays an integral role in the secretion of a number of hormones and enzymes that are vital for your body to function efficiently. Dates are considered to be one of the most important vegetarian food sources available. They can help prevent serious illness such as osteoporosis. Each date contains around 15 mg of calcium. Dates are an iron-rich fruit according to World Health Organisation (WHO). There are around 1.62 billion people with anemia all over the world and iron deficiency is reportedly one of the top causes of disability in India. A 100 grams of dates contains 4.79 mg of our daily iron requirement. Besides being rich in iron, dates are also another variety of zinc-rich fruit. Eating few a day will provide you with much-needed zinc. A handful of dates has more potassium than a banana. Potassium is required by the body to recover and maintain muscle. It is a natural electrolyte that keeps the blood pressure levels in check.
High in disease-fighting antioxidants: Dates provide three most powerful antioxidants.
Flavonoids: Help reduce inflammation, risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer.
Carotenoids: They are proven to promote heart health and reduce risk of eye related disorders.
Phenolic acid: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, phenolic acid may help lower the risk of cancer.
Anti-inflammatory: Being anti-inflammatory, dates may be helpful for lowering inflammation and preventing plaques from forming in the brain which is also important for preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Loaded with fibre: Dates are a rich source of fiber. They are wonderful for digestive health and improving bowel movements. They can help combat Intense Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms and even reduce the risk of colon cancer. Being high in fiber, dates help you feel fuller for longer hours and thus you tend to eat fewer calories and fewer sweets loaded with artificial sweeteners. Dates can actually help you reduce weight but eat in moderation.
Natural glucose source: Dates are sweet delight full of natural sugars or glucose. However they are not unhealthy for you as they work along with other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber found in this fruit. They help stabilise blood sugar levels. Dates are surely a low-glycemic index food.
Packed with healthy carbs: Being rich in healthy carbs, dates act as a fuel for long and busy work days. They give an immediate energy kick. You can now ditch those energy bars. Of course! Your body needs carbs to feel energetic and dates provide you with tons of energy.
Winters are certainly impossible without this nutrient-rich delicacy. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner time, it can be eaten any time of the day. Though dates are available nowadays throughout the year, they definitely taste better during winters because of its freshness. Add them to your daily salads, milk or eat them plain. They are good in generating heat in the body. Switch your artificial sweeteners and refined sugars with dates to gain quick and easy health. Since they are dried, their caloric content is higher than most fresh fruits but it is similar to other dried fruits, such as raisins. Moderation is the mantra behind healthy consumption.
Dates are a delicious healthy treat that are commonly eaten plain but can also be incorporated into other popular dishes.