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Uses and Benefits of Date Palm That Will Surprise You

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Mazlan has a passion for health and fitness. He enjoys yoga, cycling, home workouts, and healthy food.

Date Palm, the Tree of Life

You may be familiar with date fruits that are nutritious and healthy but do you know that date palm, the tree that produces date fruits, is the oldest fruit-bearing tree on earth?

And do you know that date palm is also the source of medicine and building materials for the Bedouin Arabs that live in the desert?

This tree of life was even mentioned in several Jewish, Christian and Islamic writings and was an important part of many religious ceremonies. It was even considered sacred by the early civilizations of the Babylonians and Phoenicians.

Let us explore and find out more about the benefits and uses of the date palm.

Benefits of date palm

Benefits of date palm

1. Medicinal Uses of Date Palms

The Bedouins, who live in the desert depend on the date palm tree for many of its daily needs including for medicine.

The Middle Eastern traditional medicine hence came from the Bedouins who use various parts of the date palm tree to treat a variety of ailments.

This traditional herbal remedy is claimed to work wonders and some of them are as follows:

1.1 Unripe Dates - The Natural Fertility Foods

In the open-air market in some parts of Saudi Arabia, you will find young unripe green dates (and the dried version) sold as fertility foods. I was told by these 'street vendors' that the Bedouin will boil the young unripe green dates or the dried version and drink the water to help them conceived. It tastes bitter and may not be easy to consume but if your desire is to conceive, it is worth giving it a try.

Date Flower for Fertility

In another market, instead of the green unripe dates, the street vendors were selling date flowers, which they claimed is more effective.

I have read that certain fruits including dates can improve the chances of conceiving. There is also an article that claimed date tree pollen can yield estrogenic principle that stimulates the function of the female ovaries and for males, the testes.

These could be the reasons why the seller in the second market claimed that date flower is more effective.

I have not read any articles on the effectiveness of young unripe green dates but if ripe dates can improve chances of conceiving, then I guess the unripe fruits may have the same ingredients to help you conceive.

You can try both just to be certain. There is no harm in trying as it is a plant-based food and not a drug.

Fertility-boosting ingredients are usually proteins that come from plant sources. It must also be rich in antioxidants, folate, iron, and calcium. These are all present in dates and even more potent in the unripe dates.

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Read More From Remedygrove

UPDATE: Link to studies on Effect of Dates on Infertility - Therapeutic effects of date fruits

Young unripe date fruits are claimed to be fertility food, helping women to conceive

Young unripe date fruits are claimed to be fertility food, helping women to conceive

Date flower of date fruit, also claimed to help women conceived

Date flower of date fruit, also claimed to help women conceived

1.2 Eating Dates During Pregnancy

Taking date fruits on a daily basis during pregnancy will help strengthen the uterine muscles. It will assist in the delivery and avert the post-delivery bleeding.

Dates are rich in potassium, glycine, and threonine that will activate prolactin, the milk hormone. It will promote the flow of milk, which is good for a breastfeeding woman. So, it is good to continue eating dates even after pregnancy.

1.3 How to Restore Health With Date

Dates are rich in Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, A and C, fiber, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Despite its sugar content, it is used to restore health to the anemic and frail due to its great source of nutrient content. The best way is to eat them fresh and not in cooking or juicing.

The date is a low-glycemic index food and its high natural sugar content will not significantly raise your blood sugar levels.

Muslims believed that Mary was asked by an angel to eat dates to give her strength and lessen the pain of childbirth when she gave birth to baby Jesus.

Quiz - Top Date Fruit Producing Country

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which is the top date producing country?
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Egypt
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Pakistan

Answer Key

  1. Egypt

1.4 Other Medicinal Uses

Dates are the staple food of the Bedouins for centuries and medical records showed low occurrences of many fatal diseases including cancer and heart disease.

The Bedouins and other tribes from the Middle Eastern and Northern African countries also used date palms as their natural sources of medicine for the followings:

Date fruits to provide relief from:

  • A sore throat
  • Colds
  • Throat and chest infections by mixing equal amounts of dates, fig, hibiscus and raisin and boiled in water. Use as an expectorant.
  • Fever
  • Bronchial asthma by mixing dates with fenugreek
  • Use as astringent for an intestinal problem
  • Counteracting alcohol intoxication
  • Use as an aphrodisiac by mixing dates with milk and cinnamon
  • Neutralizing poison by applying date paste onto the poisonous bite area

Gum from the date trunk used to:

  • Treat diarrhea
  • Genitourinary ailments

The date tree roots used to:

  • Treat a toothache

Date Seeds are grounded into a paste to treat:

  • Ague (condition of having both chills and fevers such as in malaria)
  • Skin allergy

Powdered Date Seed

  • Drinking coffee made from powdered date seed will help relieve gout pains (based on Egyptian Institute of Medicinal researches)

These are quite an impressive list of ailments but as a precaution, please refer to your doctor for further advice before you try on any of these traditional remedies.

2. Date Palm as a Source of Food

The date is the staple food and diet of the Bedouin and usually eaten with cardamom-flavored coffee.

To a desert traveler, the sight of a date palm not only meant food but also provide valuable shelter, shade, and water, as date trees will grow where there is water in the desert.

Various type of dates being sold at the open market in Saudi Arabia

Various type of dates being sold at the open market in Saudi Arabia

2.1 Fresh and Dried Dates Fruit

Date tree on average can produce between 50 to 300 lbs. (25 kg - 136 kg) of date fruit annually. There are several varieties of date fruit available and Egypt named one of its finest and expensive varieties after the US president, Obama. This marketing ploy works as it is the most sought-after dates in Egypt.

Whether you eat Obama dates or otherwise, a date can be eaten out of hand and no special preparation or cooking is required. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and hence, a complete nutritious meal on its own. It freezes well and can be stored and enjoyed all year round.

You can sprinkle chopped dates on your cereals and ice cream. Dates are also used in cooking bread, cakes, and other desserts.

Dates are also processed into paste, syrup, jam, jelly, date cubes, date sugar powder, date vinegar and even date alcohol.

Dates are now marketed as chocolate-covered dates and sprinkled with chopped pistachios, walnuts and raisins.

Most farmers will do selective culling while the fruit is developing for a more productive harvest. These culled date fruits will be dehydrated, grounded and mixed with other grains and used as feedstock.

Overstock dried dates are given as food to camels and horses.

In some African countries, dates and peppers are added to their native beer to make it less potent and intoxicating.

Date fruit covered in coconuts, chocolates, nuts and other toppings are very popular as gifts

Date fruit covered in coconuts, chocolates, nuts and other toppings are very popular as gifts

2.2 Date Seeds

Can you eat palm tree seeds? Not directly, but if you want a different flavored coffee, try roasting date seeds. Desert travelers used this as a cheap alternative to their favorite beverage. Add cardamom and you will get a mild version of 'Arabic coffee'.

Otherwise, you can grind the date seeds and turn it into nutritional animal-feeds for goats, camels, sheep, cows, and chickens.

More uses of date seeds other than for food are discussed below.

2.3 Date Leaves

The terminal bud and young date leaves, which are rich in phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and ash, can be turned into a salad or cooked as a vegetable dish.

Enjoying date fruit with Arabic coffee

Enjoying date fruit with Arabic coffee

3. Date Palm for Commercial & Industrial Uses

Date palm tree is primarily planted for its fruits. It has other uses as well in the commercial and industrial sectors. In fact, some of these by-products equaled or are more important than the date fruits itself.

3.1 Uses from Date Palm Tree

The common and most straightforward commercial use of date palm tree is in landscaping. The sight of streets lined with date palm trees will evoke an exotic and classy aura to the area. Hence, the extensive use of these majestic date trees in resorts and upmarket housing area.

Date palm tree requires lots of sunshine. So, if you intend to use them in your landscaping, choose an open area that received the most sunlight hours. It can withstand high and low temperatures but must not drop below 20 degrees F (- 6 degrees C).

Date palm trees are great as ornamental plants and are used extensively in landscaping in the Middle Eastern countries

Date palm trees are great as ornamental plants and are used extensively in landscaping in the Middle Eastern countries

3.2 Uses from Date Seed

Dates seed oils, which are rich in several fatty acids are used in soaps and cosmetics. The chemical structure of date seed oil makes it suitable as an ingredient for oxalic acid. Date seed health benefits include protective effects against early diabetic complications, prevent DNA damage, protect liver and kidney.

Despite its small size, date seed can be burnt and used as effective charcoal.

Date palm leave stalk or spine may look long and slender but is strong and has been used for construction in traditional houses

Date palm leave stalk or spine may look long and slender but is strong and has been used for construction in traditional houses

Date palm leave stalk used as vertical railing posts for a small hut

Date palm leave stalk used as vertical railing posts for a small hut