Eating dates and using them as a healthy sugar substitute may help people with diabetes to avoid those high glycemic foods. Dates are cultivated since approximately 6000 B.C. and are available dried or fresh, with a rich flavor and a slightly chewy texture.
A good source of fiber
They are rich in dietary fiber (about 8 grams per 100 grams) and according to Dr. John Briffa, the bulk of a date’s fiber is the soluble fiber pectin. Consumption of foods rich in this type of fiber may help lower the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Furthermore, the fiber helps prevent LDL cholesterol absorption by binding with compounds containing cancer-causing chemicals and facilitates the moving of waste smoothly through your large intestine.
Heart disease prevention
They are very low in fat (1%) and too much fat intake, especially trans and saturated fats, contributes to the collection of fat in the arteries, which ultimately leads to heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
In addition, foods that are nutrient-dense and low in fat (like dates) can lower your chance of developing many chronic diseases and may also improve your overall health.
They are high in flavonoids, like – lutein, ß-carotene, and zeaxanthin, which have a high capacity of reducing oxidative stress.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential for the body, therefore, their sources hold a lot of importance. In that case, these fruits are a must in the diet because they contain many minerals (such as – potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, sodium, and zinc) and vitamins, including B1, B2, B3 and B5, B9 (folate), A, C, E, and K.
More importantly, they are a good source of phosphorus and calcium, essential minerals that work closely together to build strong teeth and bones.
For type 1 diabetes (juvenile) – yes, they are good. In type 1 diabetes, there’s no insulin (because your immune system destroys cells in your pancreas named – beta cells) to let glucose into the cells, hence, sugar builds up in your bloodstream.
This disorder is considered an autoimmune disease. The main cause of an autoimmune disease is the consumption of dairy products, vaccines, and low levels of vitamin D.
For type 2 diabetics and pre-diabetics – eating up to 8 dates per day is beneficial. With type 2 diabetes, the more frequent type, your body does not use or make the hormone insulin well. The main reason is the extra body fat, especially fat around the middle plus intracellular fat build-up inside the muscle and liver cells, creating insulin resistance. It also appears from recent studies that saturated fats have the most negative effects.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus usually occurs in adulthood commonly after the ages of 35 – 40 years. Nevertheless, in recent years, there are more and more children and teenagers who are developing this condition. Moreover, it is treated with increased physical activity and a healthy diet and accounts for around 90% of all patients with diabetes.
According to a 2011 study at the Department of Internal Medicine, the United Arab Emirates, eating dates has potential benefits for diabetic patients when used in a healthy and balanced diet. More importantly, the intake of dates by diabetic persons does not result in a notable increase in blood sugar levels.
What about date sugar?
Date sugar is a healthy alternative sweetener (especially to artificial sweeteners) and is actually finely chopped dry dates. Furthermore, a 2008 study that compared the antioxidant capacity of 10 types of natural sweeteners concluded that only dark and blackstrap molasses have a stronger antioxidant capacity than date sugar.
How to prevent diabetes
CDC estimates that more than 29 million people in the United States have this condition, up from an estimate of 26 million in 2010. Here are some lifestyle choices you can apply to prevent diabetes (especially type 2 diabetes):
In research, people following vegetarian diets are about 50 percent less likely to develop this condition, compared with non-vegetarians. The main reason is that plants are very low in fat, LDL cholesterol, antibiotics, and hormones.
Avoid vegetable oils
Because cooking oils are high in calories and are 100 percent fat (all types of fat), use as little as possible. Furthermore, ingesting vegetable oil increases the likelihood of obesity and inflammatory diseases.
Physical activity is any type of movement which causes your body to burn calories. A few examples include – swimming, walking, dancing, cycling, golfing, gardening, tai chi, yoga, weight training, running, or water aerobics.
Physical exercise reduces cardiovascular risk factors, improves blood glucose, improves well-being, work rate, and the quality of sleep, and contributes to weight loss.
According to studies, smokers are 35 percent more likely to develop this condition than nonsmokers. More importantly, diabetics who smoke have a higher risk of complications, such as – stroke, heart disease, and circulatory disorders.
Don’t drink alcohol
When you consume alcoholic drinks, your liver has to work to remove the alcohol from your blood instead of working to regulate glycemia. Alcohol may also increase blood pressure and triglyceride level.
Studies show that insulin resistance and sleep deprivation may be connected. Moreover, a lack of sleep increases your risk of obesity, and being obese can also increase your risk of developing diabetes.
Foods for diabetics
Any type of whole plant-based food is good especially foods high in fiber. Limit the consumption of nuts and seeds, and avoid completely avocados, olives, and vegetable oils. Take a vitamin B12 supplement.
More importantly, avoid soft, sports, and energy drinks, food additives, processed foods, and artificial sweeteners.