Persian Dates and Their Top 6 Health Benefits
Dates are oval-shaped, brown or reddish-yellow, sweet fruits that grow on the date palm tree. Dates grow on date palms in small clusters. The name date comes from the Greek word daktulos, which means fingers. Date Palm is a tall palm tree that bears clusters of dates, native to western Asia and North Africa. The scientific name of the date palm is Phoenix dactylifera. Date Palms grow up to 75 feet and can live for 100 years. The palm trees need room to grow and spread out their roots which helps them gather surface water. There are male and female date palm trees, and only females bear fruit.
Persian Dates in Ancient Persia
Date palm is one of the most ancient cultivated trees in the world. They originated in the regions around the Persian Gulf. Dates provided people with food for thousands of years before the palm trees were deliberately cultivated. The estimated date for this cultivation is believed to be around 7,000 years ago in modern-day Iran.
Hundreds of Different Kind of Persian Dates
There are hundreds of kinds of dates in Iran! Persian dates have different attributes and degree of color which each of them are used differently. Some of the Persian dates are:
Astamaran or Sayer (semi-dried date), Shahani (also called Khork Shani, is a dried date), Zahedi, Kabkab, Rabbi, Gantar, Sayer, Khazravi, Dayri, Hallavi, Barhi, Ferssi, Allmehtari, Khassui, Liloei, Mordar Sang, Mazafati, Piarom, Ashkar, Berim, Beliani, Sovidani, Hadak, Bent Alsabae, Dagalzard, Bobki, Chabchab, Mashtom, Jahromi, Amobahri, Dagalsorkh, Hadal Khasab, Hamravi, Hasavi, Ashagh, Jozi and … is just to name a few.
Astamaran or Samarran is a semi dry, thick and rough date. It makes up about 70% of Iranian date and 40% of Persian date export. Astamaran or Sayer is very popular in many countries such as Russia, Canada, Australia, UK and New Zealand because of its unique features such as high sugar content and low cellulose content.
Shahani dates are long with a narrow tip and the color is golden-yellow to light-brown. Its khalal is sweet, so some amount of its palm fruit is being consumed in khalal stage. These dates are late-ripening type.
Zahedi dates are a rarer type of date that has a pale brown skin and thick, golden inner flesh. It has considerably lower sugar content than other type of dates. Zahedi dates are chewy and semi dry and have peanut-buttery flavor and taste.
Persian Kabkab dates are semi dry dates and are considered wet dates. These dates long and the color is dark brown. Kabkab dates, like Astamaran, Shahani and Mazafati have the most economic value in Iran.
Rabbi dates are one of the most popular date types. Their production is exclusive to Iran. Rabbi Date grows in Iranshahr, Zabol, Chahbahar and Saravan cities of the Sistan and Baluchestan province of Iran. Rabbi dates are soft, dark brown in color and long in size and can be kept in normal temperature of room. They have thin, meaty skin and soft texture.
Gantar dates are also known as Qantar or Ghandi in different areas. They are one of the most popular types for export from Khuzestan.
Also known as Khadrawi dates have an oval core with light brown color and the core sticks to the fruit. Khazravi dates are considered to be some of the best dates in both texture and flavor.
Piarom dates are one the most expensive type of Persian dates. Piarom dates are cultivated in Hormozgan province in south of Iran. They have dark brown color and thin skin. Piarom dates are considered semi dry and meaty. Because of its low sugar, Piarom dates can be consumed by diabetic people.
Dayri dates are large with thick skin surrounding the seed. The color of Dayri dates are dark brown to black. They are very tender and lack the fibrous meat that some other types of dates have. Dayri dates have a strong flavor with a hint of vanilla.
- Halawi or Hallavi
Halawi dates have a sweet honey flavor. They are long and thin and have buttery blonde colored skin. Since Halawi dates have lower than average sugar content, they are a great choice for people who have sugar sensitivity.
Barhi dates have a rich and syrupy flavor. They are one of the smallest and most fragile types of Persian dates. Barhi dates are harvested in August and early September. They have varying degree of sweetness which depends on its ripeness level, ranging from fresh sugar cane to coconut and butterscotch flavor. Barhi dates are unique in their edibility during all three stages of ripeness: yellow and semi-ripe (Khalal), amber brown and fully ripe (rutab) or dark brown dried and wrinkled (tamr).
Khassui is one of the best dates in Iran. Khassui dates are harvested in the northeastern province of Bushehr. They are considered as one of the smallest varieties of Persian dates and have a long hold time. According to the species and its growth area, they are typically found in different color from golden yellow to bright brown, from pure red to dark brown and from dark red to blackish dark purple.
Mazafati or Mozafati dates are also called the Bam dates because they are grown mainly in Bam. They are also harvested in other areas in southern Iran such as Jiroft, Kahnuj (in Kerman province), Saravan, Nikshahr, Haji Abad and Iranshahr (in Sistan-o-Baluchestan province). Because of their high moisture, Mazafati dates are not used as nuts. They are considered one of the most delicious dates in the world.
Allmehtari dates are relatively small and linear. They have high economic value because they are ripening early. Originally they are grown in Hormozgan province of Iran.
- Mordar Sang
Mordar Sang is one of the most famous cultivars of Kerman province and is planted in Bandar Abbas, Bam, Jask, Jiroft and Minaab. It is only used in Kerman and some southern areas of Iran.
Dates – A Complete Diet with Plenty of Vitamins
Dates are considered a complete diet and a very important item of food. Dates have plenty of vitamins, minerals and are a great source of energy. Since they’re dried, their calorie content is higher than most fresh fruit. The calorie content of dates is similar to that of other dried fruits, such as raisins and figs. Despite their calories, dates contain some important vitamins and minerals in addition to a significant amount of fiber.
Health Benefits of Eating Dates
- Heart Attack Prevention: Dates improve heart health by decreasing LDL cholesterol. Doctors believe consumption of dates twice a week improves cardiovascular health and prevents heart diseases.
- Relieving Constipation: Dates are used traditionally in many parts of the world as a natural laxative to relieve occasional constipation; due to their high levels of soluble fiber, which absorb water as it transits through the intestinal tract.
- Weight Loss: Iranian dates are considered to be the ideal food as they are rich in nutrients and provide many health benefits. Since they are rich in dietary fiber and fatty acids, dates can help weight loss by disposing of any toxins from your body, regulating blood glucose levels, and reducing inflammation. These sweet Iranian fruits can also help satiate your sweet tooth without making you gain extra calories.
- Bone Health: Dates are great source of selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. These minerals play an important role in maintaining and improving your bone health and also preventing serious conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Anti-Aging Effects: Dates can increase skin’s elasticity which results in glowing and younger looking skin. It’s also great for soothing and hydrating the skin since dates have the ability to maintain the skin’s moisture level.
- Boosting Memory: Recent researches on health benefits of dates proven that dates are capable of improving brain power and ameliorating some brain damage.
Where Do Persian Dates Grow?
Date palms are common in warm zones of Iran. Iran produces around 950,000 metric tons of dates annually. Most of Iran’s date productions are exported to Asian countries such as India (16%) and Malaysia (11%). The most exquisite species of dates are produced in Iran and are mostly produced in the southern, southwestern and southeastern palm grooves of Iran. A few important provinces in Iran that produce dates are: Hormozgan, Khuzestan, Bushehr, Sistan-Baluchestan, Fars and Kerman.
Persian Date Products
We have different derivatives such as Diced dates or chopped dates, Date Paste (for use in the production of sweets), date syrup, date vinegar, date seed oil and more.
How to Eat Persian Dates
Iranians have different methods to enjoy dates. They are used for making breads, pastries and snacks. Dates are often used in Persian Cuisine. Adas polow, a famous Iranian dish is served with dates as well as raisins. Dates are the main ingredients in many cuisines of people in southern areas of Iran.
- Komaj: A sweet date bread with turmeric and cumin
- Kolompe: Pie made of dates and cardamom.
- Egg-date: khorma tokhmemorgh in Persian, is considered a high-energy food that is usually served at breakfast or evening meal
- Stuffed date: remove the pit and fill the date with walnut or almond and add grated coconut
- Tea and date: dates are served as a sweetener while drinking tea
Date processing includes several stages such as:
- Separation of crown of the seeds,
- and packing.
Please see Persian Restaurants for a list of restaurants near you!