The date palm assumedly originates from lands around Iraq. It grows singly or forms a clump with several stems from a single root system. Date palms may reach heights of over twenty metres, with leaves of four to six metres long. The full span of the trees crown ranges from six to ten metres.

Date palms are now grown extensively under warmer climates across all the continents for its edible fruits. These are called dates. This name originates from the Greek word for finger, dáktulos, because of the fruit's elongated, oval-cylindrical shape. The ripe fruits range from bright red to bright yellow in colour, depending on variety, and contain a single stone about 2.5 cm long and 6–8 mm thick.

Dates are among the oldest cultivated fruit in the world. They are mentioned extensively in both the Bible and the Koran. Dates are very nutritious and healthy for the human body. They contain more natural sugars than any other fruits and provide a significant amount of dietary fibre, potassium, as well as various vitamins and minerals. Due to the long list of dietary advantages, dates are known as ‘the bread of the desert'.

Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted (known as stoned dates) and stuffed with fillings. Dates can also be used in a range of sweet and savoury dishes, from Moroccan tagines, to American date nut bread, to puddings and other dessert items. When Muslims break fast in the evening meal of Ramadan, it is traditional to eat a date first.


The best know types in Europe are the Deglet Noor and the Medjool, other types are generally referred to as common dates. There are however, a lot of different types of cultivars, which might be divided into three main groups:

  • Soft (e.g. Barhee, Halawy, Khadrawy, Medjool)
  • Semi-dry (e.g. Dayri, Deglet Noor, Zahdi)
  • Dry (e.g. Thoory)


These differ per cultivar. Mostly, these are divided into two or three categories. Medjools for example, are available as jumbo, large and medium (fancy).


Dates can be readily available throughout the year. Some varieties of fresh, soft, good-quality fruits, however, only found from September through December.

Dates are might be processed into cubes, paste called ajwa, spread, date syrup or honey (called dibs or rub), powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol. 

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Proximates Units
Energy kcal 282
Protein g 2,45
Carbohydrate g 75,03
Fiber g 8

Total fat g 0,39
Saturated fat g 0,032
Monounsaturated fat g 0,036
Polyunsaturated fat g 0,019
Cholesterol mg 0

Calcium mg 39
Iron mg 1,02
Magnesium mg 43
Phosphorus mg 62
Potassium mg 656
Sodium mg 2
Selenium mcg 3

Vitamin A IU 10
Vitamin B6 mg 0,165
Vitamin C mg 0,4
Vitamin E mg 0,05
Vitamin K mcg 2,7
Carotene, beta mcg 6
Carotene, alpha mcg 0
Cryptoxanthin, beta mcg 0
Lutein + zeanxanthin mcg 75
* Dates are Deglet noor.
"Source: USDA National Nutrient Database
for Standard Reference, Release 26 (2013)"
g = gram; mg = miligram ; mcg = microgram; IU = International Units


North Africa and the Middle East. The world’s largest produces of dates are Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, followed by Algeria, Iraq and Pakistan.


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