Celebrating a Month of Inner-Growth
This April is the start of Ramadan, which is the Muslim month of fasting -- refraining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. At this time, 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide will be taking part in this religious tradition. The days can be long and at times difficult when all you want is water.
As the clock slowly counts down to sunset, thoughts of burgers and milkshakes and biryani may be dancing through your head. However, when the time arrives, millions of Muslims all go for the same food item - a date.
That's right. This simple fruit holds a greater punch than you might have thought. For Muslims, the tradition is rooted in the religious teachings of Prophet Muhammad, who is quoted as saying: “When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then (he should break his fast) with water, for water is purifying."
How can dates be more ideal than water? How is this a healthy choice for fueling an empty body? Well, dates are high in sugar, fiber, minerals, phytonutrients, and (when fresh) vitamin C. They also contain potassium, magnesium, iron, and small amounts of protein and fat. Dates are easily digested, making them a quick source of energy and nutrients. Eating dates after a long day of fasting can help the body’s blood glucose levels quickly return to normal. Might be good to eat after donating blood. They are known to be good for strengthening immunity, building strong bones, protecting against eye disease, and much more.
And that's what it comes down to - they are a quick and nutritious way of overcoming a day of no food. That, plus 1400 years of tradition.
Though most people eat dates plainly, my favorite way of eating dates is with a tall glass of milk. And of course, they must Medjool dates. There are many date recipes -- as cookies, with nuts, with cheese -- have fun finding your own tradition.
What you didn't know about dates?
- Dates are the fruit of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) tree, which is most widely cultivated in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Africa, Southern Asia, and Southeast Asia.
- More than 40 varieties of dates are grown in Arabia alone. Depending on the variety, dates may be harvested soft, dry, or semi-dry.
- Dates have been consumed for at least 6,000 years and appear to have been cultivated for more than 2,000 years.
- Date seeds can lie dormant for years or even decades when germinating conditions are unfavorable.
In addition to tasting good, dates can be beneficial in treating constipation, diarrhea, and intestinal disorders, and they can help promote a healthy heart.
- Dates aren't just for people; Arabs in the Sahara are known to use dates as feed for camels, horses, and dogs.