"Dates have myriad properties as a source of nutrition. During the fasting month, its efficacy is also sunnah," Professor of Food and Nutrition Security, IPB University Human Ecology Faculty (FEMA) Ahmad Sulaeman informed Antara when contacted in Jakarta on Monday.
The man, familiarly called Prof. Ahmad, suggested that consuming fruit from the Middle East should not only be restricted to the month of Ramadan but also in other days to offer maximum health benefits.
Prof. Ahmad remarked that dates contain sufficient nutrition as a source of energy and carbohydrates. Dates contain some 270 kilocalories, 1.8 grams of protein, and fat content as low as 0.15 grams per 100 grams. The fiber content in dates reaches 6.7 grams while it contains 75 percent carbohydrates.
Of the 75 percent carbohydrate content in dates, sugar, glucose, sucrose, and fructose (fruit sugar) constitute 65 grams.
Dates also contain a quite high mineral content. Other important constituents are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, reaching as high as some 700 milligrams. Dates also contain sodium reaching only 1 milligram per 100 grams. Dates also contain antioxidant substances including phenolic compounds, and mineral boron.
"The composition itself reveals the multiple benefits of dates," the professor from Sukabumi noted.
Prof. Ahmad elaborated on the myriad health benefits of dates in the form of boosting brain health. Consumption of dates protects the brain against oxidative stress and brain inflammation, as dates are high in fiber, phenolic compounds, and natural antioxidants, such as proton acids.
"The presence of polyphenol compounds in dates has the potential to help slow the incidence of Alzheimer's and Dementia (senility)," he revealed.
Moreover, the high fiber content in dates can prevent constipation. The fiber content in dates promotes digestive health, so after the food gains entry into the intestines, it can pass smoothly through the digestive tract, and the process of defecation becomes smoother.
"If you have difficulty defecating, just eating dates. (Dates) should be soaked until soft and the next day can be blended into dishes, such as pasta, and then consumed," Ahmad noted.
The soluble and insoluble fiber content in dates can also cure digestive ailments, including ulcers. Dates have various beneficial amino acids that can boost the digestion of food that can pass through the gastrointestinal tract for direct absorption of food.
The nutrients and iron in dates aid in the prevention of anemia. Though the iron content in dates is not that high but it aids in treating the symptoms of anemia. Ahmad noted that not many are aware of the fact that consumption of dates can help to overcome anemia.
Prof. Ahmad pointed to dates aiding in the prevention of heart disease, with the related research on prevention been conducted by one of the researchers and published in international journals.
The outcomes of the study indicated that the intake of dates is an effective means of lowering the triglyceride levels and curbing oxidative stress, considered a risk factor for heart disease.
The high antioxidant content in dates also helps in the prevention of atherosclerosis, or the formation of plaque in blood vessels, thereby aiding in reducing the risk factors of stroke.
Dates also contain traces of phytochemicals that helps those ailing from heart disease. Dates also contain high levels of potassium, a mineral content, which can reduce blood pressure and prevent hypertension.
"Dates reduce the risk of strokes and other heart-related diseases," Ahmad pointed out.
Treatment of sexual dysfunction
According to a study conducted in 2006, pollen dates and oils can help in the treatment of male sexual dysfunction. The study outcomes showed that the high estradiol and flavonoid content in dates assist in increasing the sperm count and motility.
"Research in India shows that the pollen in dates has been used for the treatment of male infertility and in traditional medicine. Consuming several dates can help to boost the libido," Ahmad remarked.
In the Middle East, dates are habitually consumed to boost male stamina. They consume dates that have been soaked in goat's milk and then blended along with cardamom and honey.
Prof. Ahmad remarked that the IPB had also conducted research on the benefits of dates that were proven to boost the stamina of sportsmen. The research was conducted with Chairperson of the Indonesian Nutrition Agency Hardinsyah.
Other research from Columbia showed that dates can help in the treatment of chronic diarrheal diseases, prevention of myopic disease, slow down the development of cancer cells while other studies noted that dried dates can boost antitumor activity.
In the meantime, the phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium content in dates aids bone health, especially in the elderly.