Among one of the oldest plants in the world, the date palm is a sweet fleshy fruit that is usually eaten by itself in smoothies, desserts, or other dishes. Due to their natural sweetness, dates may concern individuals diagnosed with diabetes. Research has shown that a healthy diet filled with nutritious ingredients like complex carbs, vegetables, and dry fruits can benefit individuals diagnosed with diabetes.
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Why Do We Recommend Dry Fruits For Diabetes?
Dry fruits are a popular snack because of their great taste, nutritional value, and relatively long shelf life. As they belong to the fruit family, most individuals are under the misconception that dry fruits are not recommended for those with high blood sugar levels. On the contrary, suitable dry fruits in the right quantities have shown to be highly beneficial to people diagnosed with diabetes.
Although this article focuses on how dates and dry fruits can help those with diabetes, we recommend dry fruits as a mid-meal snack to everyone as they are usually high in fibres that keep you full for longer. They contain a low to medium glycemic value, which increases their suitability for those with diabetes.
Why Single Out Dates?
For over 6000 years, people have been enjoying dates in dried and fresh forms. A dried and pitted 24-gram date contains 16 grams of sugar while the same quantity of fresh date contains 32 grams of sugar, which raises the question, “Can diabetics eat dates?” To this, our answer would be a resounding yes. Although dates are pretty sweet, their impressive nutrient profile more than makes up for it; they are packed with fibre that helps the body absorb sugar slowly, thus making them a safe and healthy choice for anyone with diabetes.
Nutritional Benefits of Dates for Diabetics
We have already spoken about some of the nutritional benefits of dates and why it is one of the best dry fruits for diabetes. Let us look at some of the factors in a little more detail.
Dietary fibre works towards slowing down the absorption of sugar, preventing spikes in you’re blood sugar levels. Studies show lower risks of developing diabetes among people who consume more fibre. Dietary fibre is also known to feed good bacteria in the gut, which is essential for an individual’s health.
Just two Medjool dates pitted contains 26 milligrams of magnesium which makes up 8% of an adult female’s daily requirement and 6% of males. As magnesium plays a significant role in controlling blood sugar levels, consuming dates can not only help control diabetes but can also help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
The exact two dates contain 334 mg of potassium, equating to 10% of a male’s daily requirement and 13% of a female’s. Studies found that those with lower potassium levels have higher amounts of insulin and glucose, which are also markers for diabetes.
Dates are one of the most potent antioxidants beneficial for those diagnosed with diabetes as they are also high in polyphenols that help to reduce inflammation in the body, which plays a role in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders associated with it.
These naturally occurring substances have a similar effect on the body as estrogen. Dried dates are said to be the second-highest phytoestrogen content of any fruit. Sources have also indicated that phytoestrogens help to increase control of blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance in individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
How Do Dates Affect The Blood Sugar Levels?
The Glycemic index (GI) is the measurement used to calculate the effect of carbs on blood sugar levels. Foods with a GI of 55 and lower are categorised as those with a low GI, while foods with a GI of over 70 are said to be high GI foods, medium being those with a GI between 56 and 69.
Food classified as low GI tends to cause lower fluctuations in blood sugar levels. At the same time, those with high GI can quickly spike the individual’s blood sugar leading to sugar crashes which can be seen in individuals with diabetes. So how can people with diabetes eat dates? Fifty grams of dates have a GI of around 44-53, which can be classified as low. As we encourage people with diabetes to consume foods with lower GI levels, dates are the perfect addition to their diet.
All in All
Despite having a higher level of fructose, a sugar present in fruits, we highly recommend the consumption of dates and other dry fruits for diabetes. Along with the high nutritional value and the low GI levels, those diagnosed with diabetes can consume dates in moderation which mean no more than once or twice a day.