Nutrition

How Many Dates Can a Person with Diabetes Eat in a Day

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Dates for Diabetes

Dates, also called Phoenix Dactylifera, come from the palm family. They are sweet and fleshy, consumed either fresh or dried, make excellent winter food and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. In addition, dates possess a natural sweetness due to their fructose (sugar found in fruits) content, causing a dilemma 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 one can eat in a day.

Benefits of Dates in 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 of the nutritional components of dates and their benefits for diabetics:

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.

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Can people with Diabetes eat Dates?

Before we answer the question, it is essential to understand the concept of the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load. 

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 cause fewer fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, and are the preferred source of carbohydrates in diabetes. However, High GI foods can cause spikes in blood sugar, leading to poor control of blood sugar and affecting the amount insulin doses to be taken.

Since the Glycemic Index 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.

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 having a Low GI and Medium GL, Dates are rich in multiple other nutrients, as seen in the table below.

Nutrition Profile

How many Dates can we 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 not more than 2 dates are consumed in a single day.

Another way to combat the sugar content and high calories is to pair them with a protein or fat source like almonds, as this can help slow down their digestion thus managing blood sugar levels.

Bottom Line

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.

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