A number of epidemiological studies that have been undertaken during the past few decades have provided support for an inverse relationship between the intake of fruits and vegetables and the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases in humans. The reasonably high intake of fruits and vegetables (at least 400 g daily) lowers the risk of these chronic diseases.
It is the presence of a number of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables that may, in part, explain their beneficial effects (Gerber et al., 2002). Studies using animal models and cell cultures have generated a lot of information about the possible mechanisms by which a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of these chronic diseases.
Although date fruits are known to be rich in some of these phytochemicals, the scientific information generated on this fruit so far is scanty.
To date, most of the date fruits at khalal, rutab, and tamer stages of maturity are being consumed directly with little or no processing, but the quantity of processed date products is growing rapidly in this region.
A number of value-added date products are nowavailable in the local market throughout the year. For more detailed description of value-added functional foods prepared from date fruits, the reader is referred to a recently published book chapter (Sidhu and Al-Hooti, 2004). A brief discussion about some of the important value-added food products prepared from date fruits will be discussed here.