In clinical practice , diabetic patients receive conflicting messages from health educators regarding the advisability of consuming dates, with some suggesting restraint or even avoidance as a means to improve glycemic control. However, this appears to conflict with findings from previous studies demonstrating that dates have low to medium glycemic responses.
The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of mankind’s oldest cultivated plants. There are more than 2000 different varieties of dates , which have been used as food for over 6000 years.
Dates are grown mostly between latitudes 10°N and 39°N and are the most common fruit crop grown in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), occupying about 30% of the cultivated land.
Dates are rich in carbohydrates (total sugars, 44-88%), salts, minerals, vitamins, fatty acids (0.2-0.5%), proteins (2.3-5.6%), and fibers (6.4-11.5%). The development of the fruit is classified into four stages. Stage 1: ‘Kimiri’ stage, stage 2: ‘Khalal’ stage, stage 3: ‘Rutab’ stage and stage 4: ‘Tamer’ stage. The tamer stage is the final stage of maturation when the date has dried to a fairly firm consistency with a darker color.
Carbohydrate content: Dates are rich in carbohydrates with two monosaccharides, glucose and fructose, as the main reducing sugars. As fructose is twice as sweet as glucose, it plays an important role in the flavor and desirability of the dates.
Fiber content: The dietary fiber content varies depending on the type and degree of ripeness . The percentage of dietary fiber decreases throughout the stages of maturation with the lowest percentage at the tamer stage. The dietary fiber of dates at the tamer stage is mostly indigestible. The reported insoluble and soluble fiber components contribute 84-94% and 6-16% of total fiber respectively. The consumption of 100g dates can provide 50 – 100% of the recommended daily amount of fiber
Protein: Dates contain a higher percentage of protein than common fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas and grapes which contain 0.3%, 0.7%, 1.0% and 1.0% protein, respectively
Dates are also rich in salts, minerals and trace elements which are indispensable for proper functioning of a myriad of biochemical reactions, more particularly as enzyme cofactors in glucose metabolism, the organic derivatives yielded much better results than inorganic forms, likely because of better absorption
Dates do not induce high glycemic response in healthy subjects and diabetic individuals. Though long term studies are needed to validate their consumption among the diabetic group
Like all other foods, this also needs to be consumed in moderation but it is surely an effective way to overcome the sweet cravings. As we discussed for raisins, these are natural sources of sweetness and are definitely better than starchy foods like breads and biscuits.
Juma M Alkaabi,1 Bayan Al-Dabbagh,1 Shakeel Ahmad,2 Hussein F Saadi,1 Salah Gariballa,1 and Mustafa Al Ghazali2 Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutr J. 2011; 10: 59.Published online 2011 May 28. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-59 PMCID: PMC3112406
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