When dates are picked fresh, they are reddish/yellow in colour and very hard. Once they are green – in what is known as the Kimiri stage - they are ready to eat, and are juicy and full of simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. With the largest suppliers in East Asia, dates are available in the late summer period.
The climates in which they are cultivated are often high in humidity, thus preventing long term preservation of fresh dates. This presents a problem when it comes to exporting the produce as suppliers are restricted in transportation and packaging; the solution for this is to artificially decrease the water content of the dates by drying them, meaning they can be stored for longer and in less forgiving conditions than if they were fresh. One of the methods of preserving the shelf-life of date fruit is to store them in a container at a maintained, relatively low temperature for up to two months to allow them to become soft. Left in this way for several days, dates eventually turn brown – at this point, when the date has lost its yellow colour and become entirely brown, it is ready for eating.
Just like any dates in any other form, fresh date fruit is packed full of nutritional benefits. Amongst these are several essential vitamins and minerals which help our bodies to function efficiently. Just like dried dates, fresh dates are known to have laxative effects, a blessing for those who suffer with constipation – in fact, their high amount of fibre can help to promote healthy digestion and colon function. Date fruit has been proven to promote positive heart health and, due to its high amount of potassium, can also positively affect the nervous system and functionality.
For those who exercise regularly, date fruit can be eaten as a nutritious snack to boost our energy levels after a workout. For those looking to gain weight or muscle mass, dates are a perfect supplement to regular exercise, providing that they are eaten in moderation to avoid detrimental side effects - this is particularly important for those who suffer from diabetes.
For those who love dates but are concerned with calorie content, fresh dates contain fewer calories than dried dates and, like dried dates, are high in iron and potassium which are effective in preventing anaemia, constipation and fatigue. In fact, for those looking to lose weight, they provide a great and tasty alternative for those sugary snacks, and are low in sodium, cholesterol and fat.
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