Abu Dhabi: Nutritional values of dates are widely known but everyone many not be aware of their rich medicinal properties.

Premium dates, such as Ajwa, have been known for their healing properties from harmful diseases, a senior official told Gulf News.

Tonic-like effect: The date has a general tonic-like effect that treats anaemia and protects against nervous disorders due to its high percentage of sugar and potassium, said Salah Abdullah Al Mousa, acting director, Agricultural Research at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCE).

Post-pregnancy periods: The glycine and threonine in dates help the womb to contract at delivery and secrete hormones that stimulate lactation for breast-feeding women (such as the prolactin hormone), Al Mousa informed.

Heart disease: Dates reduce the risk of heart disease and clogged arteries. It is among the foods that help treat and prevent increased blood cholesterol by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestinal tract because it contains soluble pectin, Al Mousa said.

Flavonoids: The date skin contains a high level of flavonoids, which act as antioxidants and as stimulus and catalyst for the heart by strengthening the walls of the blood vessels, prevent capillary permeability and bleeding and act as anti-fungi, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-cancer agent, the official said.

Cellulose: Date skin also contains cellulose fibres, which activate the bowel movement, and helps to treat chronic constipation.

Immune system: The date is also rich in many compounds that enhance the immune system, Al Mousa said.

Some of the Ratab [half ripe] dates have many health benefits.

“They offer remedy for anaemia and immunity against cancer. They also strengthen bones, teeth, vision, soothe frayed nerves, cure stomach pain, liver diseases, jaundice, and dry skin,” said Mansour Al Mansouri, head of the Date Palm Unit at the Abu Dhabi Farmers Service Centre (ADFSC).

Nutrition table of dates

About dates’ nutritious value, Al Mousa said: “They are rich in carbohydrates and provide your body with a healthy source of energy, but with its lower moisture content, dried dates are a more concentrated source of nutrients than the fresh. Dried dates are significantly higher in calories than fresh.

“As a lower energy-density food, fresh dates make a better choice if you’re trying to control your weight,” the official said.

A 3.5 ounce serving

Dried dates

About 284 calories
Protein: 2.8 gms
Fat: 0.6 gms
Carbohydrates: 76gms
Fibre: 5 gms
Calcium: 81mg
Iron: 8mg
​Vitamin C: 0mg

Fresh dates

142 calories
Protein: 1.8 gms
Fat: 1 gm
Carbohydrates: 37 gms
Fibre: 3.5 gms
Calcium: 34 mg
Iron: 6gms
Vitamin C: 30 mg

While protein and fat only differ slightly, the carbohydrate content doubles in dried dates when compared to fresh. Dried dates are also a better source of fibre.

Vitamin C is a less stable nutrient than either calcium or iron, and is destroyed by both heat and storage, Al Mousa said.

Dried dates are a better source of calcium and iron than fresh, but fresh dates are a better source of vitamin C.

Al Mansouri said ratab [half ripe] date contains carbohydrate, proteins, sucrose, fructose and glucose and minerals such as iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, chlorine and magnesium, vitamins such as thiamine [B1], riboflavin [B2], folic acid, biotin, and ascorbic acid.

UAE is 4th largest producer of dates in world

750,000 tonnes of dates produced in Emirates, contributing 14% of global output

The UAE is the fourth largest producer of dates in the world. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the top three producers. Producing 750,000 tonnes of dates annually, which contribute 14 per cent of global output, the UAE is the third largest producer in the Arab world, after Egypt and Saudi Arabia, said Engineer Salah Abdullah Al Mousa, Acting Director, Agricultural Research, Ministry of Climate Change & Environment.

Palm cultivation covers more than 185 hectares in the UAE, which currently grows about 160 varieties of dates, he said. A UAE University study has initially identified 55 species, Al Mousa said.

According to the UAE-based Al Foah, one of the largest companies in the world that collects and process dates, it produces more than 113,000 tonnes of dates annually. About 90 per cent of its total produce is exported to 48 countries.