winter is fast approaching and while it has its own charm and comes with its own set of advantages, eating according to the season will keep energy levels high and diseases away. Dates (khajoor) are the superfood you must include in your winter diet as they come with a host of benefits due to high-nutritional content. They can even be included in a lot of desserts you are planning for Diwali, Christmas and New Year as it’s considered a natural substitute for sugar.
Storehouse of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, copper and magnesium, dates also have both soluble and insoluble fibres to keep digestive system smooth.
“Dates are known to have healing powers and there are at least 30 kinds of dates found across the world. Based on glucose, sucrose, and fructose content, dates fall under three broad types: soft, semi-dry and dry,” says Dr. Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder- Food Darzee.
Here are other benefits of dates as explained by Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine and Founder of YouCare – All about YOU by Luke Coutinho and Dr Bhargava.
Dates are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibres and is a healthier sugar substitute.
“Less exposure to sunlight, vital for Vitamin D, during winters, can deteriorate bone health. This can be prevented by including dates, rich in calcium, in your diet that will help to keep bone and teeth strong. It also contains rich minerals like potassium, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium that play an important role in preventing bone-related issues like osteoporosis and arthritis,” says Dr Bhargava.
Bring relief in arthritis pain
Come winter, and you will notice how people with arthritis experience an increased sensation of pain in their joints. Rich in magnesium and antiinflammatory properties, dates are great to relieve your aches and pains, says Coutinho
Reduce heart attack risk
The risk of heart attack increases in winters as body temperature drops. “Eating dates helps to reduce bad cholesterol that lessens the risk of heart attack and high blood pressure. Including it in morning and evening snacks increases stamina so that you do not feel lethargic and sluggish during cold winter days,” says Dr Bhargava.
Healthy twist to desserts
Winters are also the season of festivities. Diwali, Dussehra, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Dates being rich in natural sugar can work as a great alternative to refined sugar to sweeten all festive desserts, says Coutinho.
Dates can help you stay warm
Dates provide the necessary heat to the body during winters to keep it warm. Dates can be used as a natural sweetener in many dishes and drinks as well, says Dr Bhargava.
“Need a quick pick me up? Feeling lethargic and sluggish on a cold winter morning in spite of sleeping well? Pop in a date! Dates are simple carbs and thus serve as a great fuel when you need them. This is also why they make perfect pre-workout snacks. In case you are working out for longer, add some nuts, so the energy is released in a sustained manner,” says Coutinho.
Dates are one of the richest sources of iron that can help boost haemoglobin levels.
“Iron deficiency is common today among rural as well as urban women and this deficiency could lead to multiple health problems like lack of energy, hormonal issues, low immunity, hair fall, pale skin, risk of abortion during pregnancy. Iron-rich dates keep up the haemoglobin levels and boost red blood cell production. This is why it is recommended for pregnant mothers to have dates so they can maintain their iron levels as well as support the growth and development of the growing foetus. Dates also contain copper, a trace mineral that helps boost iron absorption,” says Coutinho.
Dates keep digestive problems away
“As the metabolism of the body slows down in winter, the fruit, rich in both soluble and insoluble fibres help to keep digestive problems at bay. Dates increase the secretion of digestive juices that make the absorption of food easy. Further, it reduces the risk of colon cancer,” says Dr Bhargava.
Chilly winter winds make the skin lose its natural oil and consuming dates regularly in your diet nourishes your skin and keeps the moisture level in check. With anti-oxidant properties, dates, help to attain youthful skin and repair the damage caused by free radicals, adds Dr Bhargava.