Many dietitians recommend adding dates to one’s diet as they are considered to be one of the healthiest dry fruits. Loaded with good nutrients and rich in natural sugar, dates are known to boost gut health as they are also rich in selenium, copper, potassium, magnesium, and moderate concentrations of manganese, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. However, since diabetics are advised to avoid high-sugar and high-calorie foods that may lead to a spike in their blood sugar levels, can they consume dates?
In the human body, blood sugar levels are regulated by insulin, a hormone that is produced poorly by people with diabetes. In the absence of adequate amounts of insulin, the glucose in the body is not used up and levels of the same shoot up in the bloodstream.
According to a 2011-study ‘Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects’ published in the Nutrition Journal, the sweet, bite-sized, wrinkly fruits are classified with a low glycemic index. As part of the study, researchers analysed five common varieties of dates (Fara’d, Lulu, Bo ma’an, Dabbas and Khalas) for their glycemic index and their effects on the blood sugar of healthy subjects and subjects with type 2 diabetes. The study noted that the varieties of dates tested had a glycemic index of 46 to 55 for the healthy subjects and 43 to 53 for the type 2 diabetic subjects, making them low glycemic index foods.
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While selenium is known to protect the body from oxidative stress which leads to diabetic complications, atherosclerosis, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s; the potassium and low sodium content make it good for people suffering from hypertension. It also contains phytochemicals or naturally occurring plant chemicals that can lower cholesterol, reducing risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also rich in iron, making it a perfect option for anaemic people.
Experts advise that 1-3 dates can be eaten by diabetics if their sugar levels are under control and they are into regular physical activity, but consultation with their doctor is a must. Since dates are dried, their calorie content tends to be higher than other fresh fruits. Also, given the fact that they are high in natural sugar, their consumption leads to immediate burst of energy.