People with diabetes can eat dates. Even though dates have natural sugars, they also have a lot of health benefits, like fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins. These nutrients help control blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and help the body absorb sugar slowly. But it's essential for people with diabetes to not overeat it and to think about how they fit into their overall diet. We will explore how much sugar is in dates and the health benefits of this sweet treat.

Key Facts

  • One dried date has about 16 grams of natural sugar.
  • Dates contain fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B and C.
  • Dates have a low score on the glycemic index scale.
  • Dates can help blood sugar stable, make insulin work better, and help the body absorb sugar slowly.
  • People with diabetes should eat dates in moderation, avoid extra sugars, and think about eating them with foods that have protein or fiber.
  • If you have diabetes and want something sweet, try stevia, erythritol, xylitol, yacon syrup, or monk fruit sweeteners instead of dates.
  • It's generally okay for people with diabetes to have 2-3 dates each day as part of a healthy diet, but it's best to ask your doctor or nutritionist first.

Dates are a fruit that grows on the date palm tree. They are often dried and can be found in the dried fruit section of the grocery store. One dried pitted date has about 66 calories and 16 grams of natural sugars. That's a lot of sugar! But dates also have fiber, potassium, and magnesium. All of these nutrients are important for people with diabetes. Dates can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Can People With Diabetes Eat Dates?

I've wondered if eating dates is okay for people with diabetes. It turns out they can! Dates have natural sugars that can raise blood sugar levels, but not as fast as some sweet foods. One date contains about 16 grams of sugar. I learned that having 2 - 3 dates in a meal is usually okay for most people with diabetes, especially when they eat them with proteins, fats, and fiber-rich foods. 

When I was in Oman, I learned firsthand about the benefits of dates. Locals there told me that dates are suitable for managing blood sugar levels. They have fiber that slows down how fast sugar gets into your blood. I tried it myself when my blood sugar was low - I had four dried dates, which helped raise my levels quickly. 

The glycemic index (GI) of dates is relatively low, usually from 44 to 53. This means they don't cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels. Plus, the glycemic load of dates is just 12, which indicates a minimal impact on blood sugar when eating two dried dates. 

A study examined how dried fruits, like dates, affect blood sugar after meals. They found that dried fruits, including dates, have a lower impact on blood sugar than white bread. Another study checked the glycemic index of five types of dates in both healthy people and those with diabetes. They all had low glycemic indices, suggesting that people with diabetes can eat dates without causing big spikes in blood sugar. These findings show that including dates in a balanced diet can benefit people managing diabetes. 

It's essential, though, not to overdo it with dates. Eating too many can raise blood sugar levels. So, it's best to eat them in moderation and stick to a healthy diet overall. Dates can be a tasty way to help with blood sugar control and sugar cravings for people with diabetes, but it's essential to enjoy them wisely.

Are Medjool Dates Good for Diabetics?

Medjool dates, often considered the "king of dates," are a variety of dates known for their large size and rich, sweet flavor. They are a nutritious food source packed with dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and copper and low in fat.

However, when it comes to diabetes management, consuming Medjool dates requires some consideration due to their high sugar content. A single Medjool date can contain about 16 grams of sugar, and while the sugar in dates is natural, it can still cause blood glucose levels to increase.

On the other hand, Medjool dates have a Glycemic Index (GI) of 55-61, which puts them in the low to medium GI range. Foods with a lower GI are slower to digest, absorb, and metabolize, and they cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore, insulin levels. This property makes them a better choice for people with diabetes than high-GI foods, which can cause blood glucose levels to spike.

Moreover, Medjool dates' fiber content can also help regulate blood glucose levels. Dietary fiber can slow down the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar.

During my travels in Oman, I noticed the prominent role that dates, including Medjool dates, play in the local diet. I could enjoy a few of these dates as part of my balanced meal without significantly impacting my blood sugar, assuming you are considering your overall daily carbohydrate intake and the other foods you're eating simultaneously.

For example, combining dates with a source of protein or healthy fat could further slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. You might have done this when enjoying traditional Omani meals, where dates are often served alongside yogurt, nuts, or meat.

Nonetheless, anyone with diabetes must monitor their blood sugars, mainly when introducing new foods into their diet. This personalized approach will give the most accurate information about how one's body responds to Medjool dates.

What Is the Glycemic Index of Dates?

The glycemic index measures how food raises blood sugar levels. It's measured on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher numbers indicating a greater impact on blood sugar levels.

Despite being a sweet treat, the dates glycemic index is on the low side, ranging between 44 and 53, meaning that they don't cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels. This makes them a good choice for people with diabetes.

The glycemic load is another number that can help determine if a food is safe. A glycemic load is a number that considers the glycemic index, how much of that food is typically eaten, and the carbs it contains. Food's glycemic load ranges from 0 to 20, with lower numbers indicating a lesser impact on blood glucose fluctuations.

The glycemic load of dates is just 12. This means that eating two dried dates only has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

What are the Benefits of Eating Dates?

Health Benefits Of Dates

Eating dried dates as part of your healthy diabetic diet has many benefits. Here are a few:

  • Dates are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B-complex and C. All of these nutrients can be beneficial for people with diabetes.
  • Eating dates regularly can elevate your magnesium intake.
  • Due to the potassium, dates are a good resource of vitamins to reduce blood pressure by negating too much sodium in the body.
  • Dates help to manage blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • The glycemic index of dates is low, making them a good choice for people with diabetes.
  • Dates can relieve stress because of the tryptophan it contains.
  • Dates are a good source of energy.
  • Dates can help with weight loss because they are high in fiber and low in calories.
  • Dates are high in iron and prevent anemia.
  • They help increase hemoglobin levels.
  • Dates are high in calcium and help strengthen bones.
  • The antioxidants in dates reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Dates: Nutritional Profile

  • 66.5 calories
  • 18 g carbohydrates
  • 16 g sugar
  • 1.61 g fiber

Precautions and Considerations for Diabetics Eating Dates

Managing diabetes can be a very demanding journey. However, with fruits like dates, which offer various nutritional benefits, it becomes easier to enjoy some natural sweetness and avoid blood sugar spikes.

Still, the carbohydrate content of dates makes them a food of special consideration for people with diabetes. Because without proper portion sizing, they can still cause a spike! By understanding the nuances of date consumption and implementing the following cautious strategies, diabetic patients can enjoy dates while minimizing their impact on blood sugars:

  • Consume slowly
  • Limit the portion size to a small serving – typically 1-2 dates.
  • Combine dates with sources of protein and fiber to further mitigate their glycemic impact.
  • Do not include dates in an added-sugar diet.

Alternative Sweeteners for Diabetics: Exploring Options Beyond Dates

As a diabetic, other natural sweeteners that you can explore beyond dates include,

  • Stevia.
  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol
  • Yacon syrup
  • Monk fruit sweetener

You can also check out our review of the ten best sweeteners for people with diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many dates can a diabetic eat in a day?

The exact number of dates that a person with diabetes can eat in a day will depend on various factors, including their overall health, diet, and how well their diabetes is controlled. Dates are high in sugar, but also contain fiber, which can help slow down the absorption of the sugar into the bloodstream and avoid spikes in blood sugar levels. Dates must be incorporated into a balanced diet and not over-consumed.

As a guideline, one medium date contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates, about the same as a small piece of fruit. The American Diabetes Association recommends that most people with diabetes should aim to consume around 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal. Therefore, if dates are being eaten as part of a meal, perhaps 2-3 would be acceptable. However, this advice should be tailored to the individual, and diabetics should always check with their healthcare providers or dietitians to get advice specific to their situation.

Do dates raise your blood sugar?

Like all foods that contain carbohydrates, dates can raise blood sugar levels. However, they also contain fiber, which can slow the absorption of sugar and help prevent spikes in blood sugar. It's also worth noting that the Glycemic Index (GI) of dates varies depending on the variety. Still, they're generally in the low to medium range, meaning they don't raise blood sugar levels as quickly as high-GI foods.

But because dates are high in sugar, they should be eaten in moderation, especially by people with diabetes.

Can diabetics eat prunes and dates?

Yes, diabetic patients can eat prunes and dates, but again, it's all about moderation. Prunes (dried plums) are high in fiber and have a low Glycemic Index (GI), meaning they won't spike blood sugar levels as much as other dried fruits might. Both prunes and dates can be included in a diabetic diet. Still, because they are relatively high in sugar and carbohydrates, they should be eaten in moderation and accounted for in the person's total daily carbohydrate intake.

As always, people with diabetes need to consult with their healthcare provider or dietitian to determine the best dietary plan.

Do dates really lower blood sugar?

Yes. When integrated into a healthy diet and consumed moderately, the fiber content of dates will reduce the chances of blood sugar spikes, allowing you to manage your sugar levels more efficiently.

Conclusion

Dates contain sugars but are not as high as other dried fruits. They offer an excellent nutritional package for people with diabetes and can help regulate blood sugar levels. In addition, they are low on the glycemic load and index, making them good choices for those managing their diabetes. So, people with diabetes can eat dates as part of a healthy diet plan that regulates blood sugar levels!

Sources

At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

  1. National Library of Medicine Effect of dried fruit on postprandial glycemia: a randomized acute-feeding trial
  2. National Library of Medicine Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects

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About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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