Date with dates

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Delicious Versatileand nutritious dates
Delicious Versatileand nutritious dates

Meals that heal They are a rich source of iron, vitamin C and minerals

Belonging to the palm family, the date (Phoenix dactylifera) is found in the Canary Islands, northern Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and California. The trunk, strongly marked with the pruned stubs of old leaf bases, ends in a crown of long, graceful, shining, pinnate leaves. The fruit, called the date, is usually an oblong brown berry. Dates have long been an important food in desert regions, and are the source of syrup, alcohol, vinegar and strong liquor.The date palm is believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and has been cultivated in ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt. There is archaeological evidence of cultivation in eastern Arabia.In later times, the Arabs spread dates around northern Africa and into Spain, and the Spaniards introduced dates into California in 1765. The fruit is a drupe. Dry or soft dates are eaten as they are, or may be seeded and stuffed with almonds, candied orange, lemon peel and marzipan. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savoury dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco to puddings, bread, cakes and other dessert items. Dates have high tannin content and are used medicinally as an astringent in intestinal troubles. As an infusion, decoction, syrup or paste, it is administered for sore throat, cold, bronchial catarrh, and taken to relieve fever and a number of other complaints. A 100 gram of fresh dates is a premium source of vitamin C and supplies 230 kcal (960 kJ) of energy. Since dates contain relatively little water, they do not become concentrated upon drying, although the vitamin C disappears in the process.In most varieties, the sugar content is almost entirely of the inverted form (namely glucose and fructose), important for those who cannot tolerate sucrose. The human body immediately absorbs the invert sugar in dates without being subjected to the digestion that ordinary sugar undergoes. The flesh of dates contains 60 to 65 per cent sugar, about 2.5 per cent fibre, 2 per cent protein and less than 2 per cent each of fat, minerals and pectin substances. Dates are also a good source of iron, potassium and calcium, with very low sodium and fat content. In addition, moderate quantities of chlorine, phosphorous, copper, magnesium, silicon and sulphur are found in the fruit.Dates are rich in minerals. Their phosphorous content is similar to that found in apricots, pears and grapes put together.Dates are especially delicious as a fresh fruit. When used in baking, they enhance the taste of the final product. S. GOPI




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