February 22, 2015

Story of Dates & Home Remedies With Dates

Dates are an ancient natural product which every culture has been using from time immemorial.The actual place of origin of date is not known but its home has always been het Persian Gulf and the Baluchistan area.

Dates are the one-seeded fruits of Phoneix dactylifera, a tree of the palm family. Though usually oblong, they vary much in shape, size, colour, quality and consistency of flesh according to the conditions of their culture.

The date is extensively grown in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen. Geographically, India, Pakistan and West Asia also figure in the date map, but they are not important from the production point of view.


Dates grow very well in desert regions as they require plenty of heat and little water. The date palm is in many respects like the coconut tree. Every part of the date palm comes in handy for something or the other – food, fuel, packing, etc. Hence Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, “Specially blessed are the date trees. Whoever has one in his home shall have neither hunger nor poverty.”

date palm orchard
The date grows mainly in the Middle East and Muslims consider it a holy fruit.


It’s a fact that most Arabs have a date tree in their house. They show their love and regard for dates by planting the palm wherever they can – by roads, on beaches, in resorts etc. During the ripening season – June to September – the entire Middle East and the Mediterranean coast turns colourful with red, yellow and brown bunches of dates hanging against the green background. Each bunch may have upto 1000 fruits and weigh anywhere between 8-10 kg.

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A tree begins to yield fruit in the 4th or 5th year and reaches peak bearing at around 15 years of age. About 40-80 kg yield is obtained from a single tree. The trees live upto 150 years but fruit production declines after some time. Hence in commercial cultivation they are replaced at a much earlier age.

The date palm has separate male and female trees. Natural wind pollination occurs with about an equal number of male and female plants. But in  modern commercial orchards they are entirely pollinated manually. Manual pollination is usually done by skilled labourers.

Dates earn valuable foreign exchange. In fact, before oil came on the scene, this was the mainstay of trade in that area. They used to barter dates for other goods. With India they exchanged dates for spices and silver.
Since huge quantities of dates are exported to all parts of the world, dates are not cheap even in home market.

Good quality dates are fleshy but not moist. The moist ones are usually too soft and slightly yellowish. They are considered inferior. Experts say that if dates are plucked before ripening, moisture retention is higher. So allowing the correct amount of time for ripening improves the quality of the date. Dates from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are said to be of superior varieties.

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 The fruit is easily digestible and contains sugar, protein and trace minerals.

How the date palm came to grow in India? One story is that Alexander’s soldiers, who had brought dates with them, threw the seeds away after eating the dates and trees grew out of them. But there is also archeological evidence of date cultivation in Mehrgarh around 7000 BCE, a Neolithic civilization in what is now western Pakistan. Evidence of cultivation is continually found throughout later civilizations in the Indus Valley, including the Harappan period 2600 to 1900 BCE, according to Wikipedia.  Early references to the date are there in the Kataka Samhita and the Jataka tales. Sushruta has described it as a very fine, nutritive fruit. Though the entry date of dates is not clear, it is obvious that we have been familiar with it for a long time.

Beside being eaten as a fruit, the date can be used to make syrup, jam, vinegar and strong liquor. The liquor extracted from dates is highly intoxicating and is cherished by drink lovers all over the world. The Persian poet Omar Khayyam, is said to have eulogized the heavenly appeal of this drink.

As for its nutritional value, the sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the remainder consists of protein, fiber, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. The glycemic index for three different varieties of dates are 35.5 (khalas), 49.7 (barhi) and 30.5 (bo ma'an).[Source]

Being the mainstay of life in the Persian region, naturally the date is wound into the customs and religion of the people. Muslims consider it a holy fruit and end all their Ramadan fasts with it. The Jews use its leaves for the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles and the Christians for Palm Sunday. Buddhist monks carry it with them on their travels and use it as food. In our country, particularly in South India, dried dates (called Uttutte in Kannada) are often referred to the deity as Naivedya. Heads of religious institutions offer them as prasadam to devotees.

While buying dates care has to be taken to buy good ones free from dust. Flies too infest the openly-sold ones. Buy only those that are neatly packed and available at supermarkets and other stores. While using, wash the dates thoroughly to get rid of impurities settled on it. You can store the dates at room-temperature for a month or so in an air-tight jar. For longer shelf life, for an year, you can store them in a refrigerator.

Home Remedies With Dates
Though dates are considered as a warm (heat-producing) food in Ayurvedic parlance, it is generally considered safe for all from infants to grandparents. It is used in many Ayurvedic concotions and home medicines.

For pregnancy and lactation
Dates are specially recommended for pregnant women in the 2nd semester as it has good iron content and hence is good for anemia as well. Dates taken during pregnancy also improves lactation and there’s a belief that it improves the child’s complexion (In the craze for a fair complexion for her unborn child, a pregnant woman is recommended to eat variety of foods; almonds and dates being among the few.) Dates are especially to be taken (4-5 every day) in the final four weeks of pregnancy, as according to a study it has been found to have positive effects during labour and that it  results in greater mean cervical dilation, higher proportion of intact membranes, higher proportion of spontaneous labor, lower use of prostin/oxytocin, and shorter latent phase of labor. [Source]. However it's best to avoid dates in the first trimester or have only 1-2.

Dates Milk (Kharjoor Ksheera) to fight fatigue
Boil 4 dates in 1½ glass of milk. Keep aside for a few hours and then drink it. Keep aside for a few hours and then drink it. In some communities it it kept overnight and taken first thing in the morning, while in some it is taken the last thing at night. Either way it is fine. The point to remember is to boil the dates in milk and allow some time for the reaction to take place. By drinking this, you can beat tiredness at the end of a weary day and in the mornings to pep up your energy levels.

For sleeplessness, insomnia
Just add a pinch of cinnamon (dalchini) powder to the above mentioned dates milk and sip the warm milk before going to bed. The potassium in dates calms the nervous system and the tryptophan in milk induces sleep.

For nervous debility and anemia
In the same dates milk or Kharjoora Ksheera, add a pinch of cardamom (elaichi) powder and 1 tsp of honey for relief from nerve debility and to combat anemia.

Cure for Sexual Debility
You can prepare a date syrup by grinding steamed dates with milk. It helps fight sexual weaknesses in both sexes. This syrup also helps in removing harmful toxins and in boosting energy levels and hence is beneficial for the elderly too.

Helps Gain Weight
For those who are underweight, it’s a good idea to eat a few 5-7 dates everyday or drink dates milk on regular basis as it easily helps to put on weight.

Improves Immune system in Children
Having crushed dates mixed  with ghee (clarified butter) by children helps to build up their immune system.

Helps in Constipation and Piles
Dates are laxatives, no doubts about it! They have lots of roughage / fiber as wells a they encourage friendly bacteria in the intestine and hence stimulate the bowels to expel stools effectively. Those suffering from constipation should soak 4-5 dates and have it in the morning. They should not only drink the water in which the dates were soaked but also chew the soaked, moist dates to cure constipation. This remedy is also helpful for those suffering from piles.

Remedy For Diarrhea
Surprisingly, date also helps in curing diarrhea due to its potassium content. Have 2-3 dates when you have diarrhea.

Antidote for Alcohol Intoxication
While it’s highly recommended that you should not consume alcohol under any circumstance, if you have been intoxicated by alcohol after a night’s party, drink the water in which dates are soaked. This can easily help you overcome intoxication and having this the next morning can provide relief for the hangover.

Sweet and Sour Date Pickle For lactating mothers and Elderly
Wipe dry dates well. Split and remove seeds. Prepare a solution of lime juice with sugar and salt. There should be enough solution to immerse the dates. Keep in sunlight for 2-3 days or more until the dates suck up the juice.

This is good for lactating mothers. Tasty and healthy, it can also be given to old people / elderly or those having problem of stomach ulcer, gastritis etc. and have been asked to avoid green chillies, chillies and such.

Next time, you feel like popping something sweet into your mouth, try dates. Even kids find them good as native confectionery. I’m sure they will love them. Once the tongue has a date with dates, it is sure to go steady with it! However a word of caution! Dates should be consumed moderately like 3-5 per day. Excessive consumption can cause bloating and indigestion. People with diabetes have to more careful as dates are high on sugars, especially red dates. Blood-sugar level may shoot up if they consume too much.

Some sweets that you may prepare from dates:
  • Dates Kheer / Payasam. Check recipe here, here, here and here.
  • Dates Obbattu / Holige / Poli. Check recipe here, and here.
  • Date Loaf. Check recipe here.
  • Date Cake. Check recipe here and here.

(Contributed by Chaitra S.)


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5 comments:

  1. Dates (Khajur) are helpful in bone health and also strengthening the tooth enamel.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dates (Khajur) best helps in decrease of foot swelling during pragnancy and also for breast-feeding women.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Prabha3:44 PM

    Dates (Khajur) help in weight gain and are beneficial for those who suffer from over slimming problem.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ayaanna3:46 PM

    Dates remedy Lever and purge it from toxins, Breaking the fast with dates, is one of the most magnificent of natural remedies for the maintenance and purging the Lever from accumulated toxins. And also drinking dates juice could be used in the treatment of sore throat, various types of fever, rhinorrhia and common cold

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous3:48 PM

    Dates contain Vitamins A, B1 and B2, And contain Fluorine who defeats teeth decay. Other minerals that are found in various proportions in dates include boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and zinc. Additionally, the seeds contain aluminum, cadmium, chloride, lead and sulphur in various proportions. Selenium, element believed to help prevent cancer and important in immune function, is also found in dates.

    ReplyDelete

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