Dates, believed to be one of the most significant commercial crops, are primary fruit in the Arabian Peninsula and also have been recorded in Holy Quran and modern scientific literatures1. Dates and their components demonstrate a pivotal role in diseases prevention through anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial activity. The health benefit of Ajwa dates has been detailed in hadith as Saud (R.A) narrated that I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “If Somebody takes seven Ajwa dates in the morning, neither magic nor poison will hurt him that day2”. Dates fruits contain great content of carbohydrates, salts and minerals, dietary fibre, vitamins, fatty acids and amino acid, providing exclusive value in human nutrition2. Dates are rich in iron. People who face iron deficiency in their diet often experience fatigue. The combination of high iron content and carbohydrates found in dried dates can provide a helpful boost of energy. For this reason, in Islam dates fruits are used to break the day long fast during the holy month of Ramadan3.
In this article, we will discuss about medicinal value of date extract, summarized in terms of therapeutic indications in the several types of diseases through antioxidant, anticancerous and antidiabetic properties.
The prevention of free radical activities is a vital step in the management of disease. Medicinal plants and their functional constituents play an essential action to deactivate or deter the free radicals, which are unstable molecules that may cause harmful reactions in your body and lead to disease. Compared to similar types of dried fruit, such as figs and dried plums, dates appear to have the highest concentration of polyphenol4. The antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds stems from their redox reactions, which can play an important part in absorbing and neutralizing free radicals5. The prevalence of occurrence and eventually the death rate of cancer are lowered by the antioxidant capabilities of polyphenol of date extract6.
Genetic mutation is the main cause of development and progression in cancer. Even though current treatments of radiotherapy and chemotherapy show positive and promising outcomes, they pose unwanted side effects and earlier studies reported that beta D-glucan from dates has exhibited antitumour activity7. An experimental review studied that the antigenotoxicity of date is due to its ability to scavenge the alkyl radical, inhibit the aromatase activity of cytochrome P-450 or blocking the reaction between methane diazonium ion and DNA8. Therefore, consistent consumption of dates observed to present some protection from colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers9.
Eating dates may help to prevent brain degenerative diseases and improve brain function. Animal studies have discovered dates to be beneficial for reducing the activity of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins, which can form plaques in the blood vessels and outside the neurons of the brain leading to miscommunication of neurochemical synapses and eventually neural death9,10. This is a very typical property of the neurological diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The long-term (15 months) use of dietary supplementation of date tempered the levels of amyloid beta peptides, inflammatory cytokines and adenosine triphosphate9. Another study has unveiled that the levels of both Aβ proteins were significantly lowered in date supplemented groups than without the date supplement11. The neuroprotective effect offered by 4% date fruits diet to AD diseased group is higher than 2% date fruits diet11. The potential brain-boosting properties of dates have been attributed to their content of antioxidants including flavonoids, known to reduce inflammatory markers, especially interleukin-6 in the brain cells9. Elevated levels of interleukin-6 are associated with a greater risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s9,12.
Dates have the capability in aiding blood sugar regulation due to their low glycemic index, high fiber and antioxidants. The increase in output of insulin and inhibition of absorption of glucose are thought to be the mechanism of action of how date extract works to combat diabetes1. A research carried out on flavonoid compounds from date fruits epicarp, proved that this ingredient plays a major role in the improvement of the different biochemical results in diabetic rodents13. In another human study, it has been established that eating dates may be beneficial in improving sugar and lipid control in diabetic individuals14.
- Rahmani AH, Aly SM, Ali H, Babiker AY, Srikar S, Khan AA. Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014; 7(3): 483–491.
- Al-Bukhari MI. In: The collection of authentic sayings of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), division 71 on medicine. 2nd edition. Al-Bukhari S, editor. Ankara, Turkey: Hilal Yayinlari; 1976.
- Al-Shahib W, Marshall RJ. The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future? Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2003 Jul; 54(4):247-59.
- Vinson JA, Zubik L, Bose P, Samman N, Proch J. Dried fruits: excellent in vitro and in vivo antioxidants. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Feb; 24(1):44-50.
- Garcia VV, Mendoza EM, editors. Postharvest Biochemistry of Plant Food-Materials in the Tropics. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Sci Soc Press; 1994.
- Velioglu YS, Mazza G, Gao L, Oomah BD. Antioxidant activity and total phenolics in selected fruits, vegetables, and grain products. J Agric Food Chem. 1998;46:4113–4117.
- Ishurd O, Sun C, Xiao P, Ashour A, Pan Y. A neutral beta-D-glucan from dates of the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera L. Carbohydr Res. 2002 Aug 16; 337(14):1325-8.
- Diab KA, Aboul-Ela EI. In vivo Comparative Studies on Antigenotoxicity of Date Palm (Phoenix Dactylifera L.) Pits Extract Against DNA Damage Induced by N-Nitroso-N-methylurea in Mice. Toxicol Int. 2012 Sep; 19(3):279-86.
- Essa MM, Akbar M, Khan MAS. Beneficial effects of date palm fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural Regen Res. 2016 Jul; 11(7): 1071–1072.
- Essa MM, Subash S, Akbar M, Al-Adawi, Guillemin GJ. Long-term dietary supplementation of pomegranates, figs and dates alleviate neuroinflammation in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. PLoS One. 2015a;10:e0120964.
- Subash S, Essa MM, Braidy N, Awlad-Thani K, Vaishnav R, Al-Adawi S, Al-Asmi A, Guillemin GJ. Diet rich in date palm fruits improves memory, learning and reduces beta amyloid in transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2015 Apr-Jun; 6(2): 111–120.
- Hull M, Fiebich BL, Lieb K, Strauss S, Berger SS, Volk B, Bauer J. Interleukin-6-associated inflammatory processes in Alzheimer's disease: new therapeutic options. Neurobiol Aging. Sep-Oct 1996;17(5):795-800.
- Michael HN, Salib JY, Eskander EF. Bioactivity of diosmetin glycosides isolated from the epicarp of date fruits, Phoenix dactylifera, on the biochemical profile of alloxan diabetic male rats. Phytother Res. 2013 May; 27(5):699-704.
- Miller CJ, Dunn EV, Hashim IB. The glycaemic index of dates and date/yoghurt mixed meals. Are dates 'the candy that grows on trees'? Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar; 57(3):427-30.