Known for their sweetness and carb content, you may wonder how dates can impact blood sugar in people with diabetes. In moderation, people with diabetes can enjoy this nutritious food.
Dates are the sweet, fleshy fruit of the date palm tree. They’re typically sold as a fresh or dried fruit and enjoyed on their own or in smoothies, desserts, and other dishes.
Due to their natural sweetness, their impact on blood sugar may be a concern for those living with diabetes.
This article explores whether people living with diabetes can safely eat dates.
Dates pack a lot of sweetness in a relatively small bite. They’re a natural source of fructose, the type of sugar found in fruit.
Each medjool date (about 24 grams) contains 67 calories and roughly 18 grams of carbs (
People living with diabetes may find it challenging to manage their blood sugar levels. Healthcare professionals typical advise those with the condition to be conscious of their carb intake.
Given their high carb content, dates may raise concerns.
This is significant, as dietary fiber helps your body absorb carbs at a slower pace, which is especially important for people living with diabetes. The slower carbs are digested, the less likely your blood sugar will spike after eating (
Dates boast an impressive nutrient profile but are quite sweet. Yet, they’re packed with fiber, which helps your body absorb its sugars more slowly. When eaten in moderation, they’re a safe and nutritious choice for people living with diabetes.
It’s measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) assigned 100 — the highest your blood sugar can spike after eating a food.
Low GI carbs have a GI of 55 or lower, while those with a high GI are ranked 70 or above. Medium GI carbs sit right in the middle with a GI of 56–69 (
A food with a low GI may cause less significant fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels.
A food with a high GI quickly spikes blood sugar. This may lead to a blood sugar crash in those who may have a hard time managing their blood sugar variations.
People living with diabetes can eat a variety of foods; some may consider sticking to foods with a lower GI.
Despite their sweetness, dates have a low GI. This means that, when eaten in moderation, they are a nutritious option for people living with diabetes.
In one study, researchers examined the GIs of 1.8 ounces (50 grams) of 5 common varieties of dates. They found that dates generally have a low GI, between 44 and 53, which may differ slightly depending on the type of date (
There was no significant difference in the dates’ GIs when measured in people with and without diabetes (
Another helpful measure of a food’s effect on blood sugar is glycemic load (GL). Unlike GI, GL accounts for the portion eaten and amount of carbs in that particular serving (
To calculate GL, multiply the food’s GI by the grams of carbs in the amount you’re eating and divide that number by 100.
Carbs with a low GL are between 1 and 10. Medium GL carbs are between 11 and 19; while high GL carbs are at 20 or above. This means a snack comprised of 2 dates packs a medium GL.
If you have diabetes, consider eating dates alongside a source of protein, such as a handful of nuts, which supports your body digesting the carbs a bit more slowly, further helping prevent blood sugar spikes.
Dates have a low GI, which means they’re less likely to spike your blood sugar levels, making them a wholesome choice for people with diabetes.
Aside from fiber content, dates offer a host of vitamins and minerals that may provide health benefits. Dates are also a source of antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress (8).
For instance, the following vitamins and minerals are found in a serving size of 4 Medjool dates (roughly 100 grams or 3 ounces), a common type of date eaten in the United States:
- Calcium: 64 mg
- Iron: 0.9 mg
- Potassium: 696 mg
- Zinc: 0.4 mg
- Magnesium: 54 mg
Given their high fiber and vitamin and mineral profile, dates may provide health benefits like digestive support, improved immune health, and heart health.
Moreover, research suggests that people living with diabetes can consume dates as part of a balanced diet, which includes foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
Even though more long-term randomized clinically controlled intervention trials are needed, improved HDL and total cholesterol levels were also noted during randomized controlled trials (
Dates are a source of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. They’re also a source of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Daily consumption of dates may improve total and HDL cholesterol levels in those living with diabetes.