( Phoenix dactylifera )
Medicinal fruit for heart
Dates are ancient super fruits with fleshy texture and can appear in different color, size and taste. Generally dates are quite sweet and yet very healthy fruits.
Dates are rich in vital minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc and sulfur. Dates are also abundant in B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and folate.
For the heart health, dates plays a wonderful role because the are high in heart friendly minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron and are also rich in antioxidant. Lets take a look why dates are healthy food for the heart.
Magnesium in dates
Magnesium is a type of mineral that is essential for the heart health. Low magnesium in the body can lead to depression, high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because, lower magnesium in the body causes imbalance to heart beat.
The human heart beats with the help of magnesium and calcium. Calcium in the heart muscle cells cause constriction while magnesium counter the action with relaxation. With low magnesium level, the relaxation of the heart muscle can be impaired and this can lead to abnormal heart beat and high blood pressure.
Apart from keeping the heart beat in order, magnesium also helps to relax the blood vessel. As magnesium regulates the heart muscle function, the beat will be balanced and there will be no unnecessary tension in the walls of artery. With this, high blood pressure can be avoided.
Antioxidant prevents heart disease
Antioxidant can prevent heart disease. Let's see what is antioxidant and why this is so important for the blood vessel and the heart health. Before we understand antioxidant, we need to understand what is oxidant then we can better understand the anti oxidant. Oxidants are molecules, for example oxygen, that can react with other molecules such as protein in the body.
When this reaction happens, it can damage the protein molecule and we call this as oxidation. This oxidation will cause inflammation and eventually diseases in our body. It is largely believed that the root cause of many chronic diseases are induced by free radicals that causes oxidation.
During stress for example, the reacting oxygen radicals are high in the body due to high oxygen intake for increasing metabolic process in order to provide more energy demanded by the stress. As a result, more reactive oxygen molecules are created in the body and these molecules are called oxidant and they causes oxidation in the body.
To counter this effect, the body can use a compounds called antioxidants. These antioxidants can be produced either from within the body or received from external sources like from antioxidant rich food. Dates for example are rich in antioxidant. Antioxidants are able to stabilize free radicals by donating an electron without making themselves unstable.
Potassium for fluid balance
High blood pressure is also caused by too much sodium in the blood. When we eat food containing too much salt, like French fries, pizza and burger, the sodium in the blood spikes up and pulls more water into the bloodstream to dilute the excess salt.
As a result, the cells in our body will loose water and become dehydrated. This will bring imbalances in the bodily fluid. It also reduces the ability of the kidneys to remove water and waste materials from the blood through urine, because the blood need more water to keep the salt diluted.
As a result, more fluid retention in the blood stream will happen, causing an increase in pressure against the blood vessel. A constant elevated blood pressure over a long period of time can cause damage not only to the walls of the blood vessel but also to the heart. A weakened blood vessel would not be able to supply proper blood to the heart muscle and therefore the heart becomes weak and ill.
Excess sodium in the blood can be overcome by the presence of potassium. Potassium is the key mineral to reverse the negative effect of sodium in the body. Our body controls the blood pressure with the help of the kidneys. With sufficient potassium, the kidneys are able to remove excess water in the blood stream thus reducing the pressure in the blood vessel. Dates provides a good source of potassium which can regulate the blood pressure by balancing the sodium in the blood.
Iron for proper heartbeat
A low iron level can cause cardiovascular problem. Iron deficiency is related to a condition called tachycardia. Tachycardia is a condition that causes your heart to beat abnormally high. The ideal heart beat is usually between 60 to 100 beats per minute, depending on the person's physical condition and age.
More than 100 beats per minute is considered unhealthy and called Tachycardia. Low iron count can cause anemia which is the condition of having a low amount of red blood cells. This can effect the oxygen supply in the body. In cases of severe anemia, the heart tends to compensate the lack of oxygen in the body by increasing the heart beat.
With higher heart beat it tend to supply more blood for more oxygen. This creates the Tachycardia condition. Over time, this can lead to enlargement of the heart and eventually leading to heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure can include fluid retention, shortness of breath, weakness, high blood pressure as well very low blood pressure.
A delicious recipe of dates for you.
In this recipe, I have used dates and hawthorn berries to make a heart friendly super food. This jam is easy to make and very delicious. Once its made, you should keep in the fridge to avoid any spoilage.
2 cups dried or fresh hawthorn berries
2 cups dried dates (chopped)
3-4 cups of water
Combine all ingredient in a pot, bring to boil and once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the berries and dates becomes mushy. Strain through a metal strainer and transfer the strained liquid into a pot and gently simmer till it becomes thick like a jam consistency.
Cool and transfer into a clean glass container and keep it refrigerated. Enjoy this herbal jam in any of your favorite bread for breakfast. This jam will stay good for about 2 weeks in the fridge.