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Dates For Diabetes

Dates come from the date palm. This palm and its fleshy edible sweet fruit have been popularized by the Persian Gulf. This fruit is known for staying through the harsh winter and severe climates of the deserts. Not only is it a very hardy fruit, it is also a fruit that is rich in nutrients and makes a great addition to your daily snacks.

Dates contain a lot of sugar which sometimes makes it an unfavorable item for diabetics. Dates also contain vitamin A, thiamine, and complex of vitamin B, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E, vitamin K, along with minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.

Dates can provide fiber and are fat and cholesterol free. These fruits, fresh or dried, are the perfect energy snack. It contains fructose, sucrose and glucose which is what makes it naturally sweet. In the countries where dates are popular, they are often used to break fasts. The potassium in the dates gives it heart-strengthening capability. The magnesium in it makes the bones stronger and helps metabolism. It also has mild laxative properties so consuming the fruit can also help constipation and sluggish digestive systems. Dates have also been used in tonics to improve the health of reproductive organs. This fruit is also known to strengthen uterine walls and therefore is known to help in labor for pregnant women. It can also help new mothers in improving lactation while boosting their health and immunity.

Dates are popular not only because of their accessibility and availability but also because they can benefit the body in so many great ways. The same benefits do not apply to people suffering from diabetes. Though dates are low in carbohydrates, their high sugar content makes them one of the red-letter items as far as diabetes goes. Dates have no cholesterol or protein and its carbohydrate content is largely made of sugar. Therefore, diabetics are allowed dates only in small amounts and as a part of a healthy meal plan.

Dates, along with other healthy but relatively unsafe foods for diabetes like peanuts and honey, often get a bad rap. These foods are, however, good for reducing bad cholesterol or LDL. For diabetics in particular portion control of these foods becomes very important. There are current studies being conducted to identify how the glycemic index could be affected if dates are had in conjunction with other foods like yogurt or whole grain cereal. More on diabetes symptoms and causes

A glycemic index is basically an index categorizing the food based on how quickly the body digests it and converts it into glucose. Glucose for diabetics needs to be controlled. High-glycemic foods are usually refined foods, sugar and most carbohydrates. Vegetables and fruits are generally low glycemic foods. This, however, does not hold true for some fruits and vegetables. Dates fall in that category, which is why dates are not readily recommended for people with diabetes. On-going research looks at how dates can be evaluated better on the glycemic index. Currently dates are quite high on this list because of its high sugar content. More dieticians and health professional are open to including few dates in combination with other elements like whole grains and vegetables, just like they are included in food in the Middle East. Newer research on the glycemic index indicates that just categorizing food on the basis of the sugar assimilation may not be the right way to do it. There are no obvious side effects of eating too many dates but regularly consuming a high number of dates can increase your risk to type 2 diabetes or the insulin resistant diabetes.

Submitted on January 16, 2014