Are Dates Good for People With Diabetes?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Surajeet Kumar Patra, MBBS, MD, FDIAB, MBA & APMP March 16, 2022

Dates are sweet, plump fruit derived from the date palm tree. They’re classically available in dried form. People often add dates to desserts, smoothies, and other dishes. Owing to their natural sweetness, their effect on glucose levels might be a concern for diabetics. Read this article to know “Can Diabetics Eat Dates?”

Are Dates Good for Diabetics?

People have been consuming dates for many years. And the dried form of dates is mostly enjoyed by people. This sweet fruit is an excellent source of carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Yet, because of their high carb content, diabetics might also wonder if dates are safe for them.

Dates: A Concern For Diabetics

Dates contains much sweetness and that too in a moderately tiny bite. Also, they are a natural source of fructose (form of sugar present in fruit).

Diabetics often find challenging to manage their glucose levels. And, diabetics always remain mindful of their carb consumption.

Dates might also raise concerns due to their high carb content. Dates in limits may be a part of healthy diet if a person has diabetes.

Each dried date (roughly 24 grams) packs:

  • 18 grams of carbohydrates
  • 67 calories
  • 2 grams of fiber.

This is important, as dietary fiber aids in carb absorption by the body at a slower rate. And, this is true for diabetic patients. The slower is the carb digestion, the less is the glucose increase after eating.

Summary

Dates comprise a notable nutrient profile. Also, they are quite sweet. They pack a good amount of fibre. Fibre helps a person’s body absorb its sugars gradually. Moderate intake of dates is a safe and healthy option for people experiencing diabetes. Pairing dates with a protein and fat source like almonds might delay digestion. Also, the combination helps in blood glucose management.

Nutritional Values of Dates

Diabetic people may consume a serving of two to three dates at a time. Yet, a person must discuss with a doctor to check their safety. People having this condition must limit their carb intake. And, this maintains the blood glucose levels in the body.

Also, people must note that this sweet fruit comes in various sizes. For instance, Medjool dates may be approximately twice as large as other ranges. An individual might want to consider their portion sizes consequently.

One dried Medjool date approximately 24 grams consists of:

  • 18 g carbs
  • 66.5 calories
  • 1.61 g fibre
  • 16 g sugar

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Dates

GI is another factor to consider while seeing the suitability of dates for diabetics. The GI of a food reflects its effects on blood glucose levels. Foods causing faster and higher spikes in glucose levels have greater GI values. To compare, food with a lower GI reduces the glucose spikes. Doctors consider foods having a GI value under 55 to be low-GI food products.

The average GI of dates is 42; and hence it is a low GI food. It is also safe for diabetic patients when consumed in limits. The GL considers the serving size of a particular food item while computing its effects on blood glucose.

To identify a food’s GL, multiply its GI by the quantity of carbs it consists of and divide it by 100. Hence, two dried dates (48 g) consist of 36 g of carbs. And, this gives them a GL of 17, which adds to a medium GL.

Does Dates Increase Blood Sugar?

GI is an approach of evaluating the effect of carbs on the levels of blood glucose. Evaluation is done on a scale of 0 to 100. Pure glucose ranks 100, the greatest blood sugar may increase after consuming a food product. Low GI carb-food contains a GI of 55 or lower. Foods having a high GI rank 70 or more. Medium GI carbohydrates occur right in the middle. They have a GI of 56 to 69. Food product having a low GI result in lower variations in blood glucose and insulin levels.

Food item having a high GI rapidly increases blood glucose. This might give rise to a blood glucose crash, particularly in diabetics. Their bodies have a difficult time regulating these fluctuations.

Diabetic patients must usually try to adhere to food items having a lower GI. This assists in a proper blood glucose control. In type 2 diabetics, glucose gets build up in the blood and causes riskily high levels.

Luckily, in spite of their sweetness, dates rank low on the GI scale. This signifies that in limits, they are safe for diabetic patients. Another useful indicator of a food’s effect on sugar levels is glycemic load (GL). Contrasting to GI, GL accounts for the portion consumed and quantity of carbohydrates in that specific serving.

To estimate GL, multiply the food product’s GI by the grams of carbohydrates in the quantity a person is consuming. And, divide that number by 100. This implies that two dried dates (approximately 48 grams) might contain 36 grams of carbs. It also has a GI of roughly 49. That computes to a glycemic load of roughly 18.

Carb-foods containing:

  • low GL lie between GI 1 and 10
  • medium GL carbs lie between GI 11 and 19
  • high GL carbs have GI 20 or above.

This implies a snack (2 dates) contains a medium GL. Diabetics must aim to consume just 1 or 2 dates at a time. Consuming them together with a protein source like a handful of nuts also lets its carbs to get digested slowly. This further aids in preventing the blood glucose spikes.

Summary

Dates have a low GI. They have a lower potential to enhance sugar levels. Thus, dates are a safe option for diabetic people. Furthermore, dates contain a medium GL. This implies that 1 or 2 fruits at a time are best options.

How are Dates Beneficial in Diabetes?

Dates are nutrient-dense. They comprise a good amount of magnesium and potassium. Also, they are a rich source of fiber, carbs, and antioxidants. They are composed of medicinal and nutritional benefits. Numerous nutrients present in dates benefit diabetics and people having insulin resistance.

Fiber

Dietary fiber aids in delaying the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. As a result, fiber helps to manage blood glucose spikes. The occurrence of diabetes is less among individuals who have more fiber in their meals. Also, dietary fiber aids feeding an individual’s favorable gut bacteria, a vital part of overall health.

Potassium

Every serving of two dates comprises 334 mg of potassium. Individuals having low levels of potassium have high levels of insulin and sugar in people with no other health problems. These are the diabetic indicators. Moreover, potassium is a vital nutrient helpful for blood pressure control.

Magnesium

Two pitted Medjool variety of dates consists of 26 mg of magnesium. Magnesium might be favorable for diabetics as it plays a key role in glucose management.

Type 2 diabetics often contain low levels of magnesium in their body. Magnesium intake reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Also, the mineral is quite important in controlling blood pressure. And, this is a vital segment for diabetic patients. This is because those having the condition are at a higher risk of high blood pressure.

Antioxidants

Dates consist of effective antioxidants beneficial for diabetic people. They contain higher number of polyphenols. They decrease inflammation in the body. Inflammation is vital in both type 1 and type 2 form of diabetes. And, also metabolic disorders like obesity and high blood pressure.

Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are naturally materials having comparable effects as hormone estrogen. Dried dates contain the second-highest phytoestrogen content among fruits. Dietary phytoestrogens are seen to be favorable for diabetics and obese people. As, they aid in increasing the blood glucose control and reducing insulin resistance.

Good for Prediabetic People?

Moderate quantities of fruit are healthy for many diabetics and prediabetics. Similar nutrients that benefit diabetics might be helpful for prediabetics. For instance, a diet high in magnesium might lower down the risk of type 2 diabetes. Prediabetics must carefully regulate their carb consumption. This helps in avoiding the blood glucose variations causing type 2 diabetes.

Summary

Dates contain an extraordinary nutritional profile. And, they pack natural sweetness. Dates are a natural source of fructose. And, this can be a concern for diabetic people. Dates have a low glycemic index and medium glycemic load. Thus, they are a safe option for diabetics when eaten in moderation. This translates to just 1 to 2 dates at a time.

FAQs:

Are dates beneficial for diabetes type 2?

Dates are rich in micronutrients that might also benefit diabetics. Dates contain a GI of 50. And, studies have found that intake of different ranges of dates do not affect the acute glycemia in type 2 diabetics.

How many dates should a person have in a day?

Dates might aid in weight loss only when a person eats it in limits. Too much might cause weight gain. Consume 4 to 5 dates daily to satisfy your sweet tooth. And, it helps to keep your hunger pangs at bay.

Is it safe to give dates to diabetics?

Dates have a low GI. This makes them a safe option for diabetic people. Furthermore, dates have a medium GL, this implies that 1 or 2 fruits are a good alternative.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dates-for-diabetes
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/are-dates-good-for-diabetics

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 

Disclaimer

The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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