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The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of date palm fruit

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is the most popular fruit in the Middle East and North Africa. There are currently over 100 million date trees cultivated globally, most of which are in the Middle East (approximately 90%).

The anatomy of the date fruit at Tamr stage showing the epicarp, mesocarp, endocarp, and seed. 

The date fruit is made up of the pericarp, mesocarp, endocarp, and a seed (kernel or pit) and the fruits undergo different stages of development including Hanabauk, Kimri, Khalal (or Besser), Rutab, and Tamr. For the purpose of consumption, date fruits are used at different stages of maturation including Khalal or Besser (the mature but unripe with 50% moisture), Rutab (ripened with 30%–35% moisture), and Tamr (mature with 10%–30% moisture).

Different ripening stages of date palm fruit showing the three edible stages of the fruit Khalal, Rutab, and Tamr. *DPP = days post-pollination 

The date fruit is consumed widely and has been used for traditional medicine purposes for a long time, for the treatment of ailments such as intestinal disorders, fever, bronchitis, and wound healing. The fruits are nutrient rich, containing 6.5%–11.5% total dietary fibers (up to 90% of which is insoluble and 10% of soluble dietary fiber), sugar, protein, vitamins, minerals, flavonoid, and phenolic compounds. The fruits are classified based on their sugar type into (i) invert sugar types containing mainly glucose and fructose (e.g., Barhi and Saidy), (ii) mixed sugar types (e.g., Khadrawy, Halawy, Zahidi, and Sayer), and (iii) cane sugar types containing mainly sucrose (e.g., Deglet Nour and Deglet Beidha)

Due to the presence of the phenolic compounds (caffeic acid, ferulic acid, protocatechuic acid, catechin, gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, resorcinol, chlorogenic acid, and syringic acid), date palm fruits are antioxidant rich with potent bioactivities against several bacterial pathogens.The antibacterial activity of the fruit is correlated with its rich antioxidant contents including alkaloids, flavonoids, and tannins. Therefore, on the basis of the available evidence, it was found that date fruits are a good source of natural antioxidants, which can be used for the management of oxidative stress–related and infectious diseases.

Source: Hussah A. Al-Shwyeh, 'Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) Fruit as Potential Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Agents', 2019, Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences, Vol. 11(1): 1–11.

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