Are dates good for diabetes? Here’s all about its nutrition value, when to eat and more
Dates are nothing short of a superfood. They are rich in soluble and insoluble fibres which boost gut health, and are loaded with selenium, copper, potassium, magnesium and moderate concentrations of manganese, iron, phosphorus, and calcium.
While selenium protects the body from oxidative stress which leads to diabetic complications, atherosclerosis, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s; the potassium and low sodium content makes 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.
People with regular blood sugar levels can eat up to 3-5 dates in a day. The natural sugars in it make it an ideal food to break your fast, and the ideal time to eat it is early in the morning or with breakfast to stay active through the day.
But is this nutritious food good for diabetics as well? Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. “GI or Glycemic Index is the relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods, according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Eating various types of dates or mixing it in meals with plain yoghurt may be of benefit in glycaemic control in diabetic patients. Another study says that diabetic patients can consume six to eight Tamer and 8 to 10 Rutab dates in a day. The equivalent of 7-10 dates was used in another study, which is similar to what is maximally eaten at a single sitting by UAE subjects,” says Gargi Sharma, Nutritionist, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai on Dates for Diabetics.
Since dates are dried, their calorie content tends to be higher than other fresh fruits. They are also high in natural sugar making it a perfect snack for an immediate burst of energy. “Dates can be consumed by diabetics if their sugar levels are in control. It is advisable to consult your dietician/doctor the amount of dates can be consumed individually,” says Dr Roshani Gadge, diabetologist consultant, Gadge Diabetes Centre. She adds that it is fine for diabetics to eat 1-2 dates a week so long as they have diabetes under control, exercise regularly and maintain healthy eating habits.
What happens if you OD in it? “Dates are high in calories, and a small serving i.e. 1/4 cup has more than 100 calories, which is high given the small serving size. So, regularly consuming dates in high amounts can lead to a caloric build-up, which, in turn, can cause weight gain,” says Sharma. Eating too many dates can also lead to hyperkalemia (high potassium levels), and the sugar content can trigger tooth decay and lead to cavities as well.
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