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Abstract

Date, the fruit of date palm, is a delicious fruit with a sweet taste and a fleshy mouth feel. Dates have been considered as the staple food in the Arab Gulf regions for thousands of years. The religious-cultural importance of this fruit often creates conflict between persons with diabetes, who wish to consume it in unlimited quantity, and health care professionals, who condemn its consumption. This article provides a balanced, nutrilogic opinion about dates and their consumption in diabetes.
109
THIEME
Brief Communication
Dates and Diabetes
Sandeep Chaudhary1 Aswin Pankaj2
1Department of Endocrinology, NMC Hospital, Dubai,
United Arab Emirates
2Department of Endocrinology, Jupiter Specialty Medical Centre,
Mankhool, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Address for correspondence Sandeep Chaudhary, MD, DM,
Department of Endocrinology, NMC Hospital, Dubai,
United Arab Emirates (e-mail: sandeepch8j@gmail.com).
Date, the fruit of date palm, is a delicious fruit with a sweet taste and a fleshy mouth
feel. Dates have been considered as the staple food in the Arab Gulf regions for thou-
sands of years. The religious-cultural importance of this fruit often creates conflict
between persons with diabetes, who wish to consume it in unlimited quantity, and
health care professionals, who condemn its consumption. This article provides a bal-
anced, nutrilogic opinion about dates and their consumption in diabetes.
Abstract
Keywords
Arab diabetes
diabetes
glycemic index
glycemic load
medical nutrition
therapy
J Soc Health Diab 2018;6:109–110.
DOI https://doi.org/
10.1055/s-0038-1675670
ISSN 2321-0656.
©2018 NovoNordisk Education
Foundation
Introduction
Phoenix dactylifera (date, date palm) is a flowering
plant species of the palm family, Arecaceae. It has been
cultivated since antiquity for its edible sweet fruit.1 The
daily consumption of dates is deeply rooted in the tradi-
tion of many societies, including those in the United Arab
of Emirates, and has religious sanction as well. It has been
considered as a staple food of the Arab Gulf regions.
Date is a delicious fruit with a sweet, fleshy feeling.
The development of the fruit is classified into four stages:
Kimiri,” “Khalal,” “Rutab,” and “Tamer.”
Dates are consumed in a variety of ways. They are mainly
consumed as fresh (30–40%) or in the dried form (60–70%) at
Rutab (semi-ripe) and Tamar (fully ripe) stages. Little or no
processing is required.
Dilemma in Diabetes
Use of dates as a snack, as often as four to five times per day, is
a part of Arabic culinary tradition. Date fruits are considered
highly nutritious and healthy by the public. Persons with dia-
betes get confused as they receive conflicting messages from
diabetes care providers. Whereas some encourage moderate
consumption of dates, others advise restraint or abstinence
from dates as a means to improve glycemic control.
Nutritional Value
Dates can be considered as an ideal food providing a wide
range of essential nutrients with many potential health
benefits.2 Dates are rich source of carbohydrates, salts, min-
erals, vitamins, fatty acids, and proteins. Dates are also a good
source of dietary fiber, depending on the variety and stage of
ripening (6.4–11.5%).3
Macronutrients
Carbohydrates (sucrose, glucose, fructose), constitute around
70% of the energy of dates. These sugars are responsible for
the sweet taste of dates. The carbohydrate content of dates
depends on the type of date and the degree of ripeness with
the highest concentration at the tamer stage.4
Dates contain almost half of the amount of sugars in the
form of fructose. As fructose is twice as sweet as glucose, it
plays an important role in the flavor and inducing a feeling of
satiety. Dates have been shown to have low to medium gly-
cemic index values, and therefore they may benefit glycemic
and lipid control in diabetes. The low glycemic index of dates
is due to the high fructose and dietary fiber content.5
Dates are a good source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber con-
tent varies depending on the variety and degree of ripeness,
and it ranges from 6.4 to 11.5%.6 Dietary fiber exhibits many
therapeutic benefits. Higher content of the insoluble fiber
110 Dates and Diabetes Chaudhary, Pankaj
Journal of Social Health and Diabetes Vol. 6 No. 2/2018
induces satiety. It helps in lowering the blood cholesterol lev-
els by preventing cholesterol absorption in the gut. High fiber
is a bulk laxative. It protects the colonic mucosal membrane
by decreasing exposure time to nutrients, as well as binding
potential cancer-causing chemicals passing through the colon.
Protein and lipid are present in minor amounts in dates.
Proteins are found in the date fruit in the range of 1 to 3%.
This percentage is higher than found in common fruits such
as apples, papayas, oranges, bananas, pomegranates, and
grapes. The date flesh and date seed both contain a wide vari-
ety of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.
Micronutrients
Dates are a good source of many important vitamins and
minerals. Dates contain high levels of selenium, copper,
potassium, and magnesium. They also have moderate con-
centrations of manganese, iron, phosphorus, and calcium.
The high-potassium and low-sodium content of dates help
people with hypertension.7
Dates contain various types of phytochemicals such
as carotenoids and phenolic compounds (flavonoids and
anthocyanins), known as tannins that possess anti-infec-
tive, anti-inflammatory, and antihemorrhagic (prevent easy
bleeding tendencies) properties.8
Dates have also been shown to reduce the oxidative
stress by normalizing the increased hepatic levels of
malondialdehyde (MDA) and by increasing the hepatic
glutathione levels.9
Moderate amount of vitamin A found in dates is known to
have antioxidant properties. It also facilitates healthy vision
and helps maintain health of mucus membranes and skin.
The fruit has adequate levels of B-complex vitamins
(pyridoxine [vitamin B6], niacin, pantothenic acid, ribo-
flavin, and vitamin K). These vitamins act as cofactors in
multiple metabolic pathways that handle carbohydrates,
protein, and fats. Vitamin K is essential for coagulation and
bone health.
Pragmatic Suggestions
Dates can safely be consumed in small quantities.
A single-pitted date weighing around 7.1 g provides 20
calories and should not upset glycemic homeostasis
significantly.
Some suggestions for the safe use of drugs include the
following:
Spread the total quantity of dates to be consumed,
throughout the day.
Replace the seed with low calorie, low glycemic index
foods such as cabbage, almonds, or walnuts.
Eat and chew dates slowly.
Cut dates into slivers to increase the fruit’s surface area.
Use small amounts of date paste in cooking.
Persons with diabetes must be counselled regarding the
harms of excessive intake of dates. However, health care pro-
fessionals should keep in mind the religious-cultural impor-
tance of consumption of dates. This will allow a balanced
approach to the question of whether to consume dates or
not. In general, a “glucologic” policy of moderation should be
followed.
Conict of Interest
None.
References
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4 Al-Farsi MA, Lee CY. Nutritional and functional properties of
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mic index of three varieties of Omani dates. Int J Food Sci Nutr
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13 varieties of date palm Phoenix dactylifera L. Int J Food Sci
Technol 2002;37(6):719–721
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sible use as the best food for the future? Int J Food Sci Nutr
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nolic content of various date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) fruits
from Iran. Food Chem 2008;107(4):1636–1641
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... Foods 2020, 9, 1557 2 of 21 patients with diabetes [14,15]. Additionally, the date palm has numerous therapeutic potentials, including cell reinforcement, anti-mutagenic, antibacterial, antifungal, antitumor, neuroprotective, and gastroprotective properties [16,17]. ...
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