Did your parents force you to eat dates at suhoor and iftar time as a kid? I remember my dad making us eat at least three dates for suhoor, while we wanted to eat none! We should have listened to him because it turns out that dates have many nutritional benefits. It was also a favorite food of the Prophet (saw) and is referred to in the Qur’an numerous times and is one of the blessings of Paradise.
And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees – of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe. (6:99)
With Ramadan here, we’re all likely to be eating lots of dates since it is Sunnah to break the fast with them. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
If one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying. (Ahmad)
There is a lot of wisdom to this Hadith. While dates have been cultivated for thousands of years in the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa, the West is just recently starting to discover this superfruit and its plethora of nutritional benefits:
- Dates are high in vitamins A and B6, folic acid, potassium, natural sodium, copper, iron, and magnesium!
- Dates help curb the feeling of hunger, making it an excellent choice for suhoor and helpful for iftar so we don’t overeat 🙂
- Dates are high in fiber so they helps the body remove waste regularly, which helps keep levels of bad cholesterol down.
- The natural sugars in dates gives the body much needed energy after a long day of fasting, especially when we need to pray Maghrib right away.
- The amino acids in dates help facilitate the digestive process, making it an easily digestible food.
- Dates can help prevent heart disease, strokes, and certain types of cancers (they are rich in antioxidants).
So this Ramadan, don’t skip the dates! Eat at least one at Suhoor and Iftar time. With the long hours of fasting this year, dates will definitely give our bodies the nutrition that it needs, and they are a sunnah of the Prophet (saw). Don’t forget to check out our stuffed dates, date pops, and sticky toffee date cake recipes for a creative ways to eat them!