McMaster Diabetes Association (MDA)
Dates - Don't We All Want One?
Those with diabetes know how difficult meal planning can be sometimes. Choosing what to eat seems like an easy choice but with scheduling, picking out certain foods and avoiding others can become a chore more than anything. This post examines a super underrated food that many people ignore. Dates (no, not a date with your crush), are the fruits of the infamous palm tree that have been consumed by people for over 6,000 years.
Many people enjoy dates as a go-to dry fruit due to its natural sweetness, however, people with diabetes may wonder if these middle eastern gems are good for them. Research has revealed that the average glycemic index of dates is 42 (1). The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the effect of a food on a person’s blood sugar levels (1). Although sweet, dates have a GI that is considered to be low by many health care providers (1).
Since dates are a low GI food, a small study found that people with diabetes did not showcase fluctuations in their blood glucose levels when they consumed 2 servings of medium sized dates (7-10 dates) (2). However, consumption of white bread reported a greater spike in blood sugar levels (2).
Dates are rich in a variety of nutrients including potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and iron (1). Dates are also a rich source of antioxidants which may allow for the management of reactive oxidative species by reducing inflammation (3). Dates are also rich in fiber. Studies have found that the occurrence of diabetes is lower in people who consume more fiber in their diet (2). Similarly, fiber consumption helps a person’s healthy gut bacteria flourish, maintaining one’s overall health.
Since the western society does not place much focus on dried fruits, dates are an underrated snack that is both enjoyable and healthy for not only people with diabetes but also for those who may be prediabetic. Dates are classified as a low GI food meaning that it does not spike one’s blood glucose levels, all while providing an ever-lasting taste packed with an array of important nutrients.
1. Atkinson, F. S., Foster-Powell, K., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2008). International Tables of Glycemic Index and glycemic load values: 2008. Diabetes Care, 31(12), 2281–2283. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc08-1239
2. Alkaabi, J. M., Al-Dabbagh, B., Ahmad, S., Saadi, H. F., Gariballa, S., & Ghazali, M. A. (2011). Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and Diabetic subjects.Nutrition Journal, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-10-59
3. MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Antioxidants: Health benefits and nutritional information. Medical News Today. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/301506