Is dates good for diabetes
Nutrition

Are Dates Safe To Eat For Person With Diabetes

Dates, also called Phoenix Dactyliferous, come from the palm family. They are sweet and fleshy, and make excellent winter food. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, and are consumed either fresh or dried. 

In addition, dates possess a natural sweetness due to their fructose (sugar found in fruits) content, making them a problematic food for people with diabetes. A 24-gram, dried, pitted date contains around 16 grams of sugar, while a 24-gram fresh date contains 32 grams of sugar. This article explores the nutritional benefits of dates, the effects of dates on diabetes, and how many dates a diabetic can eat in a day. Let's understand is dates good for diabetics and more about dates and diabetes.

List of benefits of Dates

Dates have been consumed since thousands of years and an account of history revolving around royalty will give you a glimpse of the fact that dates have been popular since a while now. Here are the reasons why dates are popular. The benefits will also help you understand why diabetics can eat dates everyday in measured quantities. 

  1. The fibre in dates can stabilize your blood sugar levels and manage blood pressure along with inflammation. The fibre particles bind with cholesterol molecules and discard them from the body. This directly reduces the risk of cardiovascular risks.
  2. Dates contain potassium, which ensures the osmotic balance in the body is maintained. This means it prevents dilution or concentration of a particular fluid which keeps the blood pressure steady. 
  3. There are some studies which indicate that low potassium is the first step to having high insulin and glucose levels. Just a couple of dates contain 334 mg of potassium. 
  4. Dates are anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, and antimicrobial. 
  5. Studies have proven that they help women relax during labour and post child-birth. 
  6. Dates are popular to be hepato-protective and nephroprotective in nature. 
  7. A study indicates that it helps in lipid control of those with diabetes.
  8. Dates have been known to help those facing infertility issues.

Dates Benefits for Diabetes

Despite their high sugar content, dates provide various other nutrients like magnesium, fibre, potassium, and antioxidants. Some of these nutritional properties help in diabetes and insulin resistance. Here are some dates benefits for diabetes and it's nutritional components:

1. Fibre

For diabetics, consuming high-fibre foods (like dates) helps control blood sugar. This is because fibre slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, thus preventing blood sugar spikes.

2. Magnesium

One pitted date contains around 13 milligrams of magnesium. This contributes to 4% of an adult female’s and 3% of an adult male’s recommended dietary allowance. In diabetics, magnesium levels are usually low. Magnesium helps diabetics control blood sugar. It also helps with blood pressure (BP) regulation, which is a common comorbidity in diabetics.

3. Potassium

Low potassium levels are linked to higher glucose and insulin levels in healthy individuals. These are precursors to the development of diabetes. Potassium also helps in BP regulation, which is essential for diabetics.

4. Antioxidants

Inflammation (swelling) is a precursor to diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Dates contain antioxidants that are beneficial for diabetics as they help reduce swelling (inflammation) in the body.

5. Phytoestrogens

Dried dates possess the second-highest phytoestrogens of any fruit. Phytoestrogens have similar effects to estrogen within the body. They are naturally occurring substances and help with blood sugar control and decrease insulin resistance in diabetics.

Dates contain easily digestible nutrients and help in controlling the body’s metabolism. This is an essential factor for diabetics to control their blood sugar and maintain their body weight. The carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly due to the fibre content in dates, reducing blood sugar spikes. 

However, dates are also calorie-rich, with 100 grams of dates providing 314 calories. As a result, the answer to the question “how many dates can a diabetic eat in a day” will vary depending on your blood sugar levels, diet control, and caloric intake for the day. However, if dates are paired with protein and fat sources like almonds, their digestion can be slowed down, helping with blood sugar level control and management.

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Potential Side Effects of Consuming Dates When You Have Diabetes

Dates are good for diabetes as in their natural form are not harmful to those with diabetes. The manageable GI shows that adding a couple of dates to the diet does not have change in. In fact, a study shows that a person with diabetes can have 7 to 10 dates without worrying. 

Research has also confirmed that accounting for 15 grams of carbohydrates from dates did not affect their blood sugar levels. Dates have other nutritional qualities and are a good alternative to refined sugar when you are craving something sweet. There are no particular side effects of consuming dates, even for a person with diabetes. The quantity should be monitored and overeating can cause constipation and blood sugar spikes. 

Another way to avoid blood sugar spikes are by ensuring there are no additives used to preserve dates, especially sugar. The same should be checked when you are thinking of purchasing date syrup. These can cause health issues.

Effect of dates on blood sugar

The answer to the question, “Can diabetics eat dates?” lies in the effects of dates on blood sugar levels. Since dates have a low GI, they do not cause a major blood sugar spike when consumed in moderation. A study supports this finding and states that those with diabetes did not experience major fluctuations even after consuming 7 to 10 dates.

Can people with Diabetes eat Dates?

Before concluding is dates good for diabetics, it is essential to understand the concept of the Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load and does dates increase blood sugar

1. Glycemic Index or GI : Is the measurement of how carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels.

  • Carbohydrates with a GI of 55 or less are termed Low-GI Foods.
  • Carbohydrates with a GI of 56-69 are called Medium-GI Foods.
  • Carbohydrates with a GI of 70 or more are termed High-GI Foods.

This means that foods with a Low Glycemic Index result in fewer fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, and are preferred carbohydrates for diabetics. However, high GI foods can cause spikes in blood sugar, leading to poor control of blood sugar and insulin doses for diabetics. Dates have a GI ranging from 44- 53 depending on the type of date. Dates have a low GI, and can be consumed safely in moderation by diabetics. 

2. Glycemic Load or GL : Is the effect of foods (protein and carbohydrates) on blood sugar and is calculated by multiplying the GI of the food consumed with the grams of carbohydrates and dividing it by 100.

  • Carbohydrates with a GL between 1 and 10 are termed Low-GL Foods.
  • Carbohydrates with a GL between 11 and 19 are termed Medium-GL Foods.
  • Carbohydrates with a GL of 20 and above are termed High-GL Foods.

The Glycemic Load of Dates falls between 44- 53 depending on the type, it is classifies as a Low GI food, and can be consumed by people with Diabetes but safely in moderation.

For Example : If you consumed 2 dried dates (48 grams), having 36 grams of carbohydrates, and a GI of 49, your GL would be 18, making Dates a Medium GL Food which can be consumed by people having Diabetes.

Other than its low GI and moderate GL levels, dates are also rich in many nutrients, as stated above. The nutritional content of dates is presented in the table below:

Nutrient present in dates Nutritional content in dates (100 grams)
Dietary fibre 6.7 grams (18% RDA)
Iron 0.90 mg (11% RDA)
Potassium 696 mg (16% RDA)
Vitamin B1 0.05 mg (4% RDA)
Vitamin B6 0.249 mg (12 % RDA)
Vitamin A 149 IU ( 5% RDA)
Vitamin K 2.7 µg (2 % RDA)
Calories 277 kcal (14% RDA)
Carbohydrates 75 grams (58% RDA)
Protein 2 grams (3% RDA)
Copper 0.362 mg (40% RDA)

Thus, with a low GI and a medium GL, dates are an appropriate snack for diabetics when compared to plain sugar and white bread.

How Many Dates can a Diabetic Eat in a Day

Dates have been consumed for more than 6,000 years. It has been proposed that this delicious and nutritious fruit is a concern for diabetics, due to its high sugar content. However, when dates are compared with other foods in terms of their GI and GL values, they are judged to be a healthy snack for diabetics when consumed in moderation. 

Dates have a low GI and a moderate GL, making them an appropriate snack, when consumed by diabetics. As all foods need to be consumed in moderation, dates are no exception. Due to their high sugar and caloric content, pairing dates with a protein and fat source, like almonds, can help slow down their digestion and help manage your blood sugar levels.

How to include Dates in your Diabetes Diet?

There is no special time to eat dates for diabetes diet which is why they can be included in your snack time. Here are some ways you can make them a part of your diet in a healthy way. While following the recipe, it is important to keep the question “How many dates can a diabetic eat in a day?” in mind because when you are consuming dates in a recipe, you need to be mindful of the number of dates you are consuming through those snacks. 

Sugar-free laddus

Ghee: 1 tsp

Dates: 3/4th cup

Almonds: ½  cup

Pistachios: ½  cup

Walnuts: ½ cup

Poppy seeds (optional): 1 tsp

Honey (optional): ½ tbsp for binding

Method:

  1. Cook the chopped dates in ghee till you see the texture change in about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Roughly chop the rest of the nuts.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together.
  4. Garnish with poppy seeds and refrigerate

The recipe is a great midday or a pre-workout snack.

What is the Best Time to Eat Dates

Since dates cannot form a large part of your meal, it is best to consume them as a snack. They can be consumed at any time of the day. You can add them to your morning muesli, or have them as a pre-workout snack. You can also have dates right before going to bed. You can combine them with nuts and other food items to make a wholesome snack for yourself.

Fresh Dates vs. dried dates, which one is best for Diabetes?

There are more than 15 varieties of dates available all over the world. The misconception of more expensive is better has led to overlooking of dates that are good for health and can be consumed safely by those with diabetes. In India, dates are generally found in the dried form. The dried ones are higher in calories and have lesser vitamin C. The fresh ones should be had right away. Dried dates have second-highest phytoestrogen content of any fruit. New evidence has come to light which suggests that dietary phytoestrogen may be beneficial for those with diabetes and obesity.

Bottomline

Are dates good for diabetics?

Dates, a fleshy, tasty, and nutritious food, have long been a source of contention for people with diabetes. Dates contain easily digestible nutrients which help in controlling the body’s metabolism; an essential factor to control blood sugars and maintain body weight. Although Dates are calorie-rich, with 100 grams of dates providing 314 calories, when paired with protein and fat sources like almonds, carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly due to the fibre content in dates and helps in slowing down the digestion thus reducing blood sugar spikes, blood sugar level control and management. Due to its low glycemic index (GI) and moderate glycemic load (GL), dates can be consumed in moderation thus making them an appropriate snack for people with diabetes.

Here is a list of dry fruits for diabetes that you can consume freely.

FAQs

Which dates are good for diabetes? 

Dates contain a high amount of sugar. However, they have other nutritional benefits and can be consumed with foods that are sources of fat and protein. Dried dates of medium size (approximately 48 grams) are good for diabetics. 

Does Dates Increase Blood Sugar?

No, as dates have lower GI value it is not likely to increase blood sugar. A lot of people wonder, “Is date sugar good for diabetics?” Consumption of upto 7 to 8 dates per day does not affect the blood sugar levels as shown by studies.

Can diabetics eat dates everyday?

Dates should be consumed in moderation and if you have diabetes. Consumption patterns of dates depend on your intake of carbohydrates, sugar, and other food items that can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. However, it is recommended not to exceed the limit of 1 to 2 dates per day.

What are the disadvantages of eating dates?

Eating dates in large quantities can cause harmful spikes in blood glucose levels due to the sugar content. Constipation can happen due to high level of fibre content and consumption of large quantities. 

What is the difference between a fig and a date?

Dates are fruits found on date palm and figs grow on ficus trees. Figs are plum and round and dates are oval and more wrinkled. They are completely different species. The sugar content and fibre content is higher in dates than figs. 

Is Dates Good for Prediabetic People?

Yes, Dates are good for prediabetic people. As they are a healthy option and a beneficial food item for those with diabetes as well as prediabetes. The consumption should be moderate but prediabetic people can enjoy the nutritional value of dates as well.

What are the disadvantages of eating dates?

Eating dates in large quantities can cause harmful spikes in blood glucose levels due to the sugar content. Constipation can happen due to high level of fibre content and consumption of large quantities. 

What is the difference between a fig and a date?

Dates are fruits found on date palm and figs grow on ficus trees. Figs are plum and round and dates are oval and more wrinkled. They are completely different species. The sugar content and fibre content is higher in dates than figs. 

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