Dates are enjoyed as a snack food, or as part of a larger meal, across the Arab world. They can be eaten on their own, stuffed with nuts and dried fruit, or served alongside coffee. Saudi Arabia in particular is known for being a prolific exporter of dates, producing a wide variety of different types of dates. In this blog post, we will showcase the different kinds of Saudi dates, along with their unique nutritional profiles and health benefits, to help inspire you to incorporate them into your diet.
Medjool dates, also known as Majdool, are some of the largest dates in Saudi Arabia, with a rich, caramel-like flavour. They are high in natural sugars, as well as potassium and magnesium, which help your heart and bones stay strong. It is no wonder they are also known as the ‘king of dates!’
Sukkari dates are a lesser-known variety of date, which have a pale golden colour. As the name suggests, they have a distinct sweet, sugary taste. As well as their high natural sugar content, they are also a great source of fibre, making them an excellent choice for a sweet, healthy snack.
Ajwa dates are smallish in size, with a colour between dark brown and black. The Ajwa date has strong significance in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) described them as being a heavenly fruit and said in a hadith that eating seven of them a day would protect one from harm. Ajwa dates are known to be high in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage and oxidative stress.
Barhi dates are unique in that they are often eaten before they are fully ripe. In this stage, they have a yellow-amber colour and crunchy texture. They are less sweet than other dates but make up for it by being a superb source of fibre, potassium, and B-vitamins.
Khalas dates are medium-sized, with a caramel-like flavour. Their name comes from the Arabic root word khalasa, meaning to be pure or clear, reflecting the high quality of these dates. Khalas dates are a great source of nutrients and are often enjoyed as a standalone snack to boost energy levels.
Khudri dates have a dark brown colour, and a slightly chewy texture that makes them appealing to eat. As well as essential vitamins and minerals, they are rich in iron, a mineral that helps red blood cells stay healthy.
Finally, Safawi dates are very dark brown in colour, with a texture that is slightly drier than other dates. Like their cousins, the Ajwa dates, Safawi dates are high in antioxidants and dietary fiber, which help to keep your immune and digestive systems healthy.
Owing to their high vitamin and mineral content, Saudi dates offer numerous health benefits. A few are listed below:
Dates have a highly impressive nutritional profile. Depending on the variety of date you choose, you can enjoy a bite-size serving of magnesium, potassium, iron, fibre, and both B- and K-vitamins. Dates also contain high levels of antioxidants, which help protect you from the risk of chronic disease later in life.
Dates have a high content of natural sugars, including glucose, fructose, and sucrose. They can be used either as a natural sweetener in baked goods, or as a standalone snack to boost your energy in physical activity. Be sure to enjoy them in a balanced diet alongside other healthy foods!
The magnesium and potassium content of dates help to manage blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. When working together with other minerals like calcium and phosphorus, these minerals also promote the building of strong bones
Dates are a great source of dietary fibre. Fibre has a variety of uses in the body, including promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Fibre can also promote a feeling of fullness and satiety, which can aid in weight management.
Whether a mother is expecting or has recently given birth, dates can be beneficial for her health and the health of her child. The essential vitamins and minerals that dates provide can help keep mother and baby healthy during the early childhood phase.
A: Some Saudi dates are grown using sustainable and organic farming practices, but not all of them are. For more information, you can check the packaging or ask the producer to certify.
A: Yes, in moderation. Because many types of dates are high in natural sugars, they can cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. For more information, consult a dietitian or medical professional.
A: Dates are best kept in airtight containers, either in a cool, dry place or in the fridge. If stored properly, you can enjoy your dates for several months to a year – that is, if you don’t finish them first!
The humble date has earned its place as a staple of Saudi and Arab food culture. It comes in an array of tantalising varieties, each with its own unique profile of health benefits. It can be used in any number of ways in cooking, or simply enjoyed on its own. Its versatility means you can find creative ways to include dates in your mealtimes, from breakfast smoothies to flavourful tagines. Whichever kind of date you choose will surely help you on your journey to wellness.
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