New research shows that date syrup – a delicacy popular in the Middle East and a culinary essential in countries like Iraq – can inhibit the growth of bacteria faster than manuka honey.
The syrup has antibacterial activity against a number of disease-causing bacteria, says the research presented yesterday at the Society for General Microbiology’s Annual Conference in Birmingham, and undertaken by Hajer Taleb, a research student from Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Talib studied date syrup produced traditionally in Basra, Southern Iraq, and her in vitro results reveal that the date syrup is as effective as manuka honey, in similar amounts, but works more quickly, inhibiting bacterial growth after only six hours of treatment.
The antibacterial properties – that work against a host of diseases including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp. and Pseudomonas aeruginosa – are present thanks to phenolic compounds that form naturally in dates as they mature.
Date syrup has already been consumed for its health benefits in the region, however, Talib wanted to test the perception and consecutively pinpoint, perhaps for the first time, the mechanisms underlying said health benefits.
While the research is still in the laboratory stage, the researchers believe that the syrup could have a clinical value as a topical antibacterial treatment for wound infection, but Ara Kanekanian of Cardiff Metropolitan University, who leads this research, cautions against using the syrup to treat wounds, pending further research.