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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 63-73

Nutritional, socioeconomic and health benefits of dates

1 Department of Hospitality Management, Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia, Nigeria
2 Department of Science Lab. Technology, Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia, Nigeria

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C R Reuben
Department of Science Lab. Technology, Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is one of the oldest trees cultivated by man. The date palm fruit is a drupe exhibiting a high diversity in texture, shape, color and chemical composition depending on the genotype, environment, season and cultural practices. Although, fruit of the date palm served as the staple food for millions of people around the world for several centuries, studies on the nutritional, health and socioeconomic benefits are inadequate and hardly recognized as a healthy food by the health professionals and the public. Phytochemical investigations have revealed that dates contain anthocyanins, phenolics, sterols, carotenoids, procyanidins and flavonoids, compounds known to possess multiple beneficial effects. Date pits are also an excellent source of dietary fiber and contain considerable amounts of minerals, lipids and protein. In addition, despite the presence of several reports on the chemical composition and the nutritional value of dates, many other potentialities of the fruits remain unexplored. Studies have shown that dates possess free radical scavenging, antioxidant, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, anticancer, antiulcer and immunostimulant activities. Dates are very rich in phenolics, in quality and quantity, which opens many fields of investigation in terms of new potential uses. Therefore, this review summarizes the phytochemical composition, nutritional significance, and health benefits of date fruit consumption and discusses its great potential in worldwide production/commercialization as a medicinal food for a number of diseases inflicting human beings.

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