Ramadan or Ramzan is a holy month for Muslims. Over the course of 30 days, Muslims across the globe fast from dawn to dusk. Millions of Muslims observe this fasting period, including those with chronic conditions like diabetes. However, people with diabetes need to take special care while fasting.
Traditionally, the fast is broken using water and dates. But, there’s concern regarding the consumption of dates among those with diabetes. Dates are known for their sweetness and high fructose content. So, let’s look into the matter in detail.
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree. Fleshy and sweet, they have grown in popularity in recent years. Dates are typically sold as dried fruit, although some countries consume fresh dates too. A single dried, pitted date contains 67 calories and roughly 18 grams of carbs1. Interestingly, the same single dried date also contains nearly 2 grams of fibre, or 8% of the Daily Value (DV)2. 100 g of dates provides 50-100% of the recommended dietary fibre intake3. Dietary fibre helps in the slow absorption of carbohydrates, thereby reducing the risk of a blood sugar spike.
Dates have many nutritional benefits. They contain several vitamins and minerals, and are high in antioxidants4. We’ve already mentioned that they are high in fibre as well. Dates also have a low glycemic index (GI). In fact, most common dates range between 35 and 55, with an average of 42.295. Foods with a low GI are generally safe for people with diabetes, as they’re less likely to cause a surge in blood sugar levels. Furthermore, many studies have found dates to be beneficial in improving glycemic and lipid control in patients with diabetes6.
In conclusion, individuals with diabetes can consume dates; however, this needs to be done in moderation and is best done after consulting your doctor. So, aim to have no more than 1-2 dates at a time.
Wishing you all a Ramadan Mubarak!
- FoodData Central. [Internet] U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 2019. [cited 2020 Feb 5]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168191/nutrients
- Dreher M. Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Nutrients. 2018;10(12):1833.
- Alkaabi J, Al-Dabbagh B, Ahmad S, Saadi H, Gariballa S, Ghazali M. Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutrition Journal. 2011;10(1).
- Rahmani AH, Aly SM, Ali H, Babiker AY, Srikar S, Khan AA. Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor activity. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014;7(3):483–491. 2014.
- Atkinson F, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller J. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283.
- Al-Farsi* M, Lee C. Nutritional and Functional Properties of Dates: A Review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2008;48(10):877-887.