Eastern View: In Ayurveda dates are considered a ‘superfood’ because they are nourishing and promote balance. They are an ojas building food which means they build vitality and immunity. They bring a sense of sweetness to your life, and contain phytochemicals and are a precursor to the hormone oxytocin (also called the cuddle hormone). They literally make you sweeter.
Often used for their rejuvenative properties, they improve the immune system and are considered a rasayana, which means they rejuvenate the body, thus their use in anyone who is immunocompromised.
One of the special uses for dates is in cases of infertility, their replenishing qualities also makes for a good tonic for low libido.
Western View: When it comes to the number of minerals, vitamins, and health-benefiting phytonutrients in dates, suffice it to say there are a lot of them. First and foremost, they're easily digested, allowing your body to make full use of their goodness.
Dietary fiber in dates helps to move waste smoothly through your colon and helps prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol absorption by binding with substances containing cancer-causing chemicals. The iron content, a component of hemoglobin in red blood cells, determines the balance of oxygen in the blood. Potassium, an electrolyte, helps control your heart rate and blood pressure. B-vitamins contained in dates, such as the carotenes lutein and zeaxanthin, absorb into the retina to maintain optimal light-filtering functions and protect against macular degeneration.
They also contain vitamins A and K. Vitamin A protects the eyes, maintains healthy skin and mucous membranes, and even protects the lungs and mouth from developing cancer. Tannins, which are flavonoids as well as polyphenolic antioxidants, fight infection and inflammation and help prevent excessive bleeding (anti-hemorrhagic). Vitamin K is a blood coagulant that also helps metabolize your bones.
Copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin are also present in dates and provide their own unique preventive and healing functions.
Together, these cofactors help your body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Eating dates in moderation can contribute to many health benefits, such as protecting against damage to cells from free radicals, helping preventing a stroke, coronary heart disease and the development of colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
2 cups dates
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup almonds
Water to mix
Place dates in a saucepan and add water to cover two-thirds of the fruit. Add lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil, cover with a lid part-way to allow steam to escape.
Reduce heat to low. Depending on ingredients, cook time and moisture, it may take anywhere from 10-30 minutes to reach the right consistency, which is evidenced when a tablespoon can stand straight up in the middle of the mixture without falling to the side.
Cool mixture a bit then place in a food processor and process until smooth. It may have a few lumps, but that's okay!
Store in refrigerator for up to a few weeks and in freezer indefinitely.
Especially good on whole wheat toast for breakfast or add it to breakfast pancakes. I like to just eat it by the spoonful as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
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