Is it safe to eat dates while suffering from diabetes?

  • Dates are rich in natural sugar, fiber, and antioxidants.
  • They provide your body with many vitamins, minerals, and energy.
  • Dates have many health benefits, including their ability to help you stabilize blood sugar.
  • When eaten in moderation, dates can be a great addition to your diabetic diet.
  •  

Living well with diabetes requires managing your blood sugar.  To do this, you need to eat well.  This means eating healthy foods with the right portions at the right times.  If you are overweight or obese, you will need to lose weight as well.  Simply put, you need to focus on nutrient-dense foods that will keep you full and provide you with the recommended nutrients.  You also need to watch your total carbohydrate intake to avoid blood sugar spikes.  Healthy carbs like fiber-rich carbs are what we need to include in a diabetic diet.  Fruits like dates are a great addition to your diet!  They come with fibers, vitamins, and minerals.  Fibers slow down the digestion of carbs and help stabilize sugar in the blood.  

Dates and their sugar content 

Dates are naturally sweet and high in sugar.  4 to 5 medium-sized dates (100 g) contain 67 grams of carbs which are mainly sugar.  However, they are natural sugars and not artificial additives.  Natural sugars do not have a recommended limit.  What’s special about dates is that they are low-glycemicThe glycemic index (GI) of a food is a number that shows how rapidly that food impacts your blood glucose level post-consumption.  Lower GI foods can help manage blood sugar among people with diabetes.  Your body takes a longer time to digest the carbs in them.  So, these kinds of foods raise your blood sugar level more slowly.  In fact, dates are high in fiber.   Four dates alone can provide around 20% of the recommended daily fiber intake.  They are a great choice to add natural sweetness to your diet while not harming your body.  The sugar found in dates does not affect blood glucose levels like the added sugars.  You can incorporate them daily into your diet.

Nutrient content of dates

A 100 gram of dates serving provides the below calories and nutrients:

  •         282 calories
  •       67-75 g of carbs
  •         7 g of fibers
  •         2.5 g of proteins
  •         20% of RDI of potassium
  •         14% of RDI of Magnesium
  •         18% of RDI of Copper
  •         15% of RDI of Manganese
  •         5% of RDI of Iron
  •         12% of RDI of Vitamin B6

Therefore, dates are not just high in sugar but also nutrients.  Meanwhile, they are fat and cholesterol-free.  Plus, they are sodium-free.      

Health benefits of dates

As mentioned earlier, dates are high in nutrients and provide so many health benefits.

Dates are also a good source of antioxidants (phenolic acid, for example).  The former helps protect the body against the damage of free radicals.  Antioxidants are known to decrease your risk for different illnesses like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.  

Date fruits are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber.  They help us to stay satiated and also control blood sugar levels.  They can also reduce blood cholesterol and improve bowel health.

These fruits may also improve triglyceride levels, Which is linked to heart health.  Moreover, oxidative stress is also improved with dates consumption.  This stress when high could lead to heart diseases and events, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and more.     

Date fruits may also help with labor.          

They also improve skin health.  The vitamins C and D found in dates keep your skin soft and maintain its elasticity.  Dates also have anti-aging properties.

Date palm fruits may also help improve bone health.  They contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.  All of them prevent bone issues including osteoporosis. 

Can diabetics eat dates?

Dates are safe for consumption for diabetics.  Why? For so many causes that you can find below:

  •         Date fruits are rich in fiber and thus have a low glycemic index
  •         They contain natural sugars unlike added sugars
  •         They are fat-free
  •         They are high in antioxidants
  •         They are rich in vitamins that are helpful for diabetics like vitamins B1, B5 and B6

Dates eaten in moderation could be a fair addition to a diabetic diet.  It will be even better to pair them with some protein or fat sources.  Doing so will keep you full for longer.  This will also result in slower carbohydrate absorption. 

Moreover, research shows that eating the right amount of date fruits (3-5 pieces) won’t elevate your blood sugar level.  However, it is always encouraged to consult your physician before changing the way you eat significantly.

There are many reasons to include date fruits in your diabetic diet.  This includes their high fiber content, low glycemic index, and their natural sugar content.  They’re also rich in antioxidants which decrease free radical levels.  They also improve your triglyceride levels.  Plus, dates are fat-free and rich in important vitamins and minerals.  You can enjoy date fruits fresh or dried.  Just make sure to have the right portion.  At the end of the day, dates are fruits with carbs.  So, you will still have to watch your total carb and sugar intake if diabetic.  When consuming them dry, make sure they don’t have added sugars! 

Summary

If you’re diabetic, you will always have to manage your blood sugar.  This does not mean avoiding carbs including fruits completely.  For example, you can still consume a moderate portion of dates daily.  These naturally sweet dates can be safely added to your diabetic diet.  In fact, they are a good source of fiber, natural sugar, and antioxidants.  They also have a low glycemic index that supports diabetes.  Dates will keep you full longer and improve your health in so many ways.  For example, they will improve your bowel health, triglyceride levels, and bone health.  Date fruits are full of nutrients and not only sugar.

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION:

  • Carbohydrate: It is composed of simple sugars like fructose, glucose, and galactose.
  • Fiber: They are macromolecules that are not digested by human enzymes
  • Added sugars: They are added to foods during processing
  • Proteins: They are found in different parts of our bodies and make up enzymes involved in various chemical reactions.
  • Phenolic acids: They are dietary components found in plants with antioxidant properties and many health benefits.
  • Free radicals: They are unstable molecules produced when you exercise or are exposed to pollution, or when you convert food to energy.
  • Antioxidants: They protect your body from damage created by free radicals.  They are found in vegetables and fruits like dates.
  • Cholesterol: it is a waxy fat that does not dissolve in water.  It is found in animal-based foods and can be produced by your body.
  • Oxidative stress: It occurs when an imbalance is created between antioxidants and free radicals.
  • Osteoporosis: It is a health condition that affects your bones and weakens them.
  • Glycemic index: it is a way to measure how quickly the food affects your blood sugar level when consumed.
Written by:
Sarine Chekian, LD
Clinical Dietitian and Nutritionist
Reviewed by:
Physician and Medical Journalist

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