Dates are a superfood and contain a good amount of vital nutrients. This small-sized yet power-packed food is beneficial to health in many ways. However, dates do contain a high amount of natural sugars such as fructose, sucrose, and glucose. So, can diabetics eat dates? Let’s look at the nutrition facts to find out.
How Many Dates Can Diabetics Eat?
A cup of chopped dates contains 415 calories. It contains 110 grams of carbohydrates, which includes 95 grams of sugar. Dates also contain a good amount of fiber.
Additionally, dates provide 10% of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, and vitamins A and B. They also contain some amount of water.
Diabetics can safely consume fruit servings that contain a maximum of 15 grams of carbohydrates. So, how many dates can a diabetic eat in a day? A person with diabetes should consume dates in moderation—up to three dates per day.
Dates are a perfect energy snack for those that suffer from diabetes. They have high amounts of antioxidants—more than broccoli, oranges, grapes, and peppers. And, they also have a low glycemic index because of their high fiber content.
Various Studies on Dates in Relation With Diabetes
Study 1: Effect of Glycemic Index of Dates on Diabetics
A 2002 study published in Nutrition Journal showed the glycemic index effects of five varieties of dates on diabetics. The study showed that the consumption of dates resulted in a significant reduction in postprandial glucose excursions. So, dates benefit diabetic sufferers when consumed as a part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Study 2: Dates Combined with Insulin Reduce Glucose Level
Another study conducted at the King Saud University showed the hyperglycemic effect of dates. It found that date seed extract combined with insulin, decreases the blood glucose level to normal, compared to administering insulin alone.
Study 3: Dates Can Prevent Neuropathy
Those with diabetes suffer from nerve damage, which causes tingling or numbness in the feet. A 2011 study conducted at the Neuroscience Research Center found that a compound found in dates can be used to prevent diabetic neuropathy.
While diabetics are advised to limit their date intake, it doesn’t mean that non-diabetics can munch on them excessively. Does eating dates cause diabetes? No, if you are not a diabetic, eating dates or other sweet foods will not cause diabetes.
Consuming an excessive amount of dates will certainly lead to weight gain. If consumed in extremely high amounts, dates can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes or result in insulin resistance. Also, other health conditions such as ovarian cysts and hormonal fluctuations can also develop and lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. So, moderation is key.
Related: Mediterranean Diet Can Prevent Diabetes
6 Benefits of Dates for Diabetics
Now that you know that diabetics can eat dates in moderation, here are six health benefits of consuming dates for people with diabetes.
1. Helps fight fatigue
Diabetics are advised to eat carbs in a controlled manner, preferably during the day. The reduction of carbs may reduce energy levels.
Dates contain natural sugars in the form of fructose, glucose, and sucrose. So, diabetic patients should keep a packet of dates on hand while traveling just in case they become hypoglycemic, as they help replenish the blood sugar level.
2. Improves insulin production
Dates are fat- and cholesterol-free. The vitamins and minerals present in dates, such as zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium nourish the body.
Zinc helps improve insulin production, while the magnesium content helps regulate blood sugar. Dates also have vitamins A and B in the form of beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, niacin, B6, and folate.
3. Improves digestion
Fiber helps you have a smooth-functioning digestive system. A serving size of 100 grams of dates contains eight grams of dietary fiber.
Dates contain a soluble fiber called beta-D-glucan. This soluble fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol by cells in the body.
4. Maintains blood sugar levels
High-glycemic foods increase blood sugar levels rapidly. Dates have a high amount of sugar, but they are also loaded with fiber. As a result, they reduce the release rate of insulin. So, dates fall in the low- to medium-GI category.
Dates’ glycemic index varies depending on the type of dates you consume, usually between 35.5 to 49.7. The glycemic index of dried dates is 42 according to Harvard Health Publications. Their glycemic load is 18, which is slightly on the higher side, so moderation is important when eating dates.
5. Reduces vision loss
Vitamin A reduces the risk of blindness and improves vision in diabetic patients. It helps prevent macular degeneration.
6. Boosts metabolism
High blood sugar levels trigger neuropathy. Dates contain vitamin B3, which is highly recommended for people with diabetes. The vitamin B6 content helps boost metabolism.
Other Fruits Beneficial for Diabetics
Here are five other fruits beneficial to those with diabetes that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Most berries have a low glycemic index. They are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. A berry parfait can also satisfy sweet cravings without loading you up with sugar.
This juicy fruit contains vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. It can be eaten as a whole fruit, added to iced tea, or blended into a smoothie.
According to research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, people who consumed five or more apples a week had a 23% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who eat unsaturated vegetable fat like that in avocados, are 25% less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes.
5. Red grapefruit
This fruit is a part of the American Diabetes Association’s list of superfoods. It also helps lower blood pressure in people with both normal and high blood pressure.
Related: Other Foods That Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
Final Word on Dates
Diabetics should consult their doctor before including dates in their daily diet. It is highly recommended to eat dates in moderation along with protein-rich foods. However, it is best to avoid eating them in the evening or late at night for people with diabetes.
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Kruse, M., “Top 25 Power Foods for Diabetes,” Diabetic Living Online; http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/food-to-eat/nutrition/top-25-power-foods-diabetes, last accessed May 22, 2017.
“Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods,” Harvard Health Publications; http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods, last accessed May 23, 2017.