The Undiscovered Beauty in a Date
By Christine Shahin Arab America Ambassador Blogger
As a little girl growing up in an Arab American culture, my siblings and I enjoyed small snacks of fresh and dried fruits to hold us between meals.
My parents bought clear containers of the sweet mosaic of mixed dried fruits and nuts at the local import store; it featured Arab script taking my child’s mind to a distant place that lured me simultaneously with familiarity and mystery. How to choose a favorite among the dates, figs, or apricots? I enjoyed bites from each interchangeably! I loved watching my mother bake kaek/mamoul (special dough stuffed with dates), my favorite being date filled.
As childhood receded, so too did dried fruit snacks until young adulthood and the “natural foods” movement emerged. With it came the return of my heritage habit of enjoying fruits that are dried. In a polarized world, even food can become a divisive agent. Dried fruits containing natural fruit sugars are feared rather than comprehended.
Consumption is best after soaking them in warm or boiling water to add moisture and soften the fruit (chewing ease). Soaking also reduces the natural sugar levels, of which small amounts are important for digestion. I usually take the sweet residual water and make tea with it for a gentle sweet flavor.
Brown wrinkly cylinders, dates are one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. Nutrients, you may know, are the building blocks of everything and essential for the body’s functioning. The nutrients in dates are readily digestible. Dates are also a major source of fiber, which helps remove toxins from the body which results in a clear complexion. Dates are also abundant in B1, B2, B3, and B5, as well as A1 and C. Most of the required doses of vitamins are easily consumed by making dates a part of your diet.
Dates are beneficial for the outside, too. They are packed with Vitamins A, B, K, and iron, all essential for keeping skin healthy and elastic. A storehouse of vital minerals, including: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and manganese are required in significant amount for vibrant and supple skin. The fiber and nutrient content also boosts skin-cell turnover and renewal.
For a fabulous face use dates for a softening and moisturizing effect on skin, applying dates topically helps nutrients absorb directly into the skin.
Date oil for healthy scalp and hair
In addition, the antioxidant content in date seed oil (DSO) was found to be similar to olive oil, making it a good source of antioxidants.
Date oil consists of generous amounts of fatty acids, which provide nourishment to the scalp. It is also rich in lauric acid, which contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
The oil has high amino acids essential in the production of the protein keratin, which strengthens hair follicles and increases hair elasticity. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is important to energy production and restoring cellular function and development.
Date oil consists of many classes of bioactive components, and one of them is carotenoids. It is a well-known antioxidant that helps strengthen the hair by protecting it from free radicals and helps to retain hair’s moisture by sealing the cuticles.
Dates are not only consumed heavily by Arabs and all Muslims; especially during Ramadan, but also it has been reported to be the second highest antioxidant fruit consumed in China!
So, from now on, don’t only enjoy the traditional way of eating dates, but also see beauty in its oil and powder!
Christine Shahin is an Arab America Ambassador Blogger and author of Arab Beauty ~ Naturally and Natural Hair Coloring: How To Use Henna, and other pure herbal pigments for Chemical Free Beauty