The Date (Phoenix dactylifera) is the fruit of the date palm. It is a berry of golden yellow colour or reddish-brown when ripe. Its meat is soft, aromatic and sweet, with a stone inside it of elongate shape and with a longitudinal furrow. Dates are consumed fresh or dry and represent a basic food for the inhabitants of North Africa and Near East, who are the main producers. These fruits have a similar taste to honey and grow in clusters in the crown of the tree, around 25 m high.
Health Benefits of Dates
The date has an excellent concentration of iron. A hundred grams of dates provide with approximately 25 and 100% of the recommended daily consumption of 10 mg/day for men and between 15 and 70% for women in approximately 15 mg/day. The lack of iron is common all over the world, bringing about anaemia due to a diminution of the haemoglobin production. Dates have also a good concentration of folate, a vitamin of the B group closely related to health during pregnancy. Approximately 100 g of dates provide 20-35% of the recommended daily consumption of folate (0.2 mg/day). The lack of folate may cause anaemia. The reserves of folate in the body are related to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats
Dates are particularly rich in carbohydrates. Sugars, especially fructose, glucose, mannose, maltose, and other non-reducing sugars such as sucrose, represent over 80% of the dry matter.
Glucose to fructose ratio varies between 1 and 2 depending on the cultivar and ripening stage. A small amount of the carbohydrates found in dates is represented by polysaccharides such as cellulose and starch
Date fruit by-products
Besides the use of fresh fruits for human consumption, a number of by-products derived from dates also have various uses. These include jam, jelly, juice, syrup and fermented beverage. Cull dates from grading and sorting, as well from storage and conditioning are often utilized as animal feed. Several reports show that a number of bioactive compounds can be extracted from these by-products, thereby adding industrial value which could compensate for the economic loss from under-grading and/or deterioration. Various metabolites also are reported to be produced from dates or their by-products, such as citric acid, oxytetracycline and ethanol. In recent years, interest has been increasing to extract essential oils, polyphenols and dietary fiber from date seeds.
Due to the high production potential of dates worldwide, it may not always be possible to consume all the freshly-harvested fruit locally or export them. This has opened, in recent years, new opportunities to turn the surplus production into value-added products such as syrup and fermented juice.
Dates in Sudan
The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera L., is cultivated in the Northern State along the banks of the River Nile over a distance of about 700 KIns.
The total number of trees is in the order of five to seven million. The date is the most important agricultural crop in the area and provides food and income to the majority of the inhabitants. It ranks first among all the crops due to its high nutritional and economic value. The annual income of the dates is estimated to be around $ 200 million in the Northern, and Nile
States, representing not less than 26% and 20% respectively, of the total agricultural income, respectively.
Types of Dates in Sudan
Date palms belonging to three major dry cultivars: Barakawi, Qundeil ( Gondaila ) and (Bit Tamudhah) Tamoda; two minor strains: Abdel Rahim and Gau (Jaw Ahmer) ; three soft and semidry cultivars: Madina, Mishrig Wad Khatib and Mishrig Wad Laggai.
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