MOH News
MOH Advices Diabetics to Eat Dates in Moderation
05 June 2016
In reference to what have recently been circulated on some social media about dates and its effects on blood sugar, especially for diabetics, and that some dates are sugar-free, and out of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) desire to shed light on the scientific aspects of dates and blood sugar, a Consultant in Endocrinology and Diabetes and Director of the Diabetes Units and Centers at the Ministry, Dr. Muhammad bin Yahya Al-Harbi highlighted the scarcity of the evidence-based studies concerning the dates available in the Kingdom and that many of the news circulating on social media are taken from the studies conducted in some date producing countries. “It is known that the variation in the proportion of sugars in dates is attributed to several factors, including the method of palm tree care, the cultivation area, and the climatic condition at harvest time, the full-grown stage and finally the storage conditions, especially temperature and relative humidity, in addition to the method of sample analysis and accuracy of outcomes,” he said. 
 
According  to a study conducted by King Abdulaziz City for Sciences and Technology (KACST), Dr. Al-Harbi indicated that all dates include the three types of sugar (Glucose, Fructose and Sucrose) at close rates and that they have the same level of energy, while the total amount of sugar in the full-grown dates  varies between 50-85% in the pulp (the part of the dates that is eaten excluding cores), and up to 35-55% in the Rutab (Ripe Dates) because they keep a high degree of water and fiber, compared to the full-grown dates, which are relatively dried. He pointed out that although the proportions of sugar, water and fiber in dates vary depending on the growth stage, the amount of sugars and fiber is the same in a single date, but varies according to weight (i.e. one gram of dates contains fewer grams compared to the full-grown dates, thus comes the difference in sugars amount).
 
Al-Harbi said that glycemic index, showing the level of blood glucose immediately after having a meal, is the main factor to figure the effect of dates on blood sugar for diabetics. However, further studies are needed to demonstrate the diabetes index for each type separately; as studies and experiments in this field are limited in numbers and outcomes, and there are some theoretical studies about the impact of some types of dates on glycemic index, he added.
 
“According to the practical experiences of  physicians specializing in endocrinology and diabetes, the diabetics' high intake of dates in a single day is considered one of the main reasons for blood sugar irregularity for them, which causes high level of the HA1C (the Hemoglobin A1c Test), because dates are easily chewed and absorbed,” Al-Harbi underlined. He advised diabetics to eat dates in moderation to avoid negative effects on their health, meanwhile calling upon everyone not to be misled by rumors concerning the proportion of sugars in dates and to get the right information from reliable sources, namely the nutrition specialists.
 
 



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