Dates for Diabetes… Has the Sugar Gone to their Brain?
As the CEO of Healing Gourmet, I subscribe to dozens of medical journals, natural health reports and online newsletters.
It is a full time job just to stay ahead of the latest advances in nutritional science. And we take our responsibility to you very seriously as we report on the tremendous power of foods and nutrients to promote health and protect against disease.
After all, when you really think about it, these are matters of life and death.
And that’s why I’m increasingly astounded at the shoddy research, conflicts of interest, blatant contradictions, and exceedingly bad advice that many of the “big guys” dish out.
In a previous message, we took on WebMD’s promotion of sugar cookies as a “quick and healthy breakfast.” Astounding, right? And to think that they posted this suggestion right beside an article about “battling sugar addiction.”
Here’s a snapshot below:
Do you see what we mean? Bad advice and blatant contradictions, all rolled into one.
But WebMD is not the only billion dollar publishing empire dishing out bad advice… from both sides of their mouth, no less!
Today’s offending message – 14 Fantastically Healthy Foods for Diabetes – came courtesy of Prevention, another one of the world’s largest health publishers.
Of course, preventing and reversing diabetes is a primary focus for us here at Healing Gourmet, so their subject line immediately grabbed our attention.
And there it was…
A Big Bowl of Dates!
Right beside the text “With the help of our diabetes and nutrition experts, we identified the 14 best insulin-friendly superfoods” sat a bowl full of dates.
So how exactly are dates “insulin-friendly”? And by what mechanism do they help to “manage your blood sugar”?
Let me tell you: They’re not… and they don’t!
In fact, dates are one of the WORST things to eat if you have diabetes.
You see, just one date has 16 grams of sugar and a glycemic index of 103. That’s 61% higher than white table sugar!
That means that eating dates – even just a couple – can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels which not only contribute to insulin resistance, diabetes and weight gain… but also increase inflammation and free radical production in the body. For those with diabetes, this is the last thing you want to do.
Inside the article, Prevention, states that the fiber content of dates is what makes them such a “diabetes-friendly snack.” They go on to say that seven dates provide four grams of fiber. Besides the fact that there are much better ways to consume fiber, it should be noted that those same seven dates would pack more than 110 grams of sugar!
Let me put that in perspective…
That’s almost as much sugar as three 12 ounce cans of Coca-Cola!
They also write that a good way to consume dates is to “toss them into breads and cookies.” In other words, just add flour and sugar to be certain that it’s a real insulin bomb.
When it comes to sugar, your body doesn’t discriminate. Whether the sweetness comes from a decadent dessert or so-called “healthy” dried fruit, the end result is the same: Increased insulin levels.
“But wait a minute”, you say, “I thought fruit was healthy?”.
Fruit can be very healthy. But you have to know which fruits to choose… and those that are no better, or in some cases, even worse for your health than eating sugar straight out of the bowl.
Dates skew toward the latter.
You see, dates aren’t just high on the glycemic index and high in total sugar (two big no-no’s for weight control and wellness), they are also very high in fructose – a type of sugar that can be especially damaging to your health.
Researchers found that people consuming fructose (as opposed to other forms of sugar including sucrose, dextrose and glucose), are more likely to put on weight around the abdomen than those given glucose. This ‘intra-abdominal’ or ‘visceral’ fat is the most harmful type and is linked to diabetes and heart disease.
In fact, excess consumption of fructose also increases:
- The risk of abnormal blood clotting and high blood pressure
- Insulin resistance and the risk of type 2 diabetes
- LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and total triglyceride levels
Dr. Richard Johnson, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado is an expert on the effects of fructose in the body. In fact, he runs the kidney division at the University and is in charge of transplantation and research in blood pressure. Dr. Johnson has seen the effects of fructose in the lab and on the operating table too. He says:
“….if you take two animals and you feed one fructose and the other one the exact same number of calories, but as dextrose or glucose, its only the fructose-fed animal that will develop obesity, insulin resistance, fatty liver, and high triglycerides, signs of inflammation, vascular disease, and high blood pressure.”
For optimum health, you should keep your total grams of sugar to less than 30 per day. And of that only 15 grams or less should come from fructose.
To achieve this, you must avoid anything containing “added sugars”, “corn syrup” or “high fructose corn syrup”. But you also need to avoid many common “healthy” foods that are fructose bombs too. Here’s a list of seemingly healthy foods with their fructose content:
- Medjool Dates (2 medium): 15 grams fructose
- Raisins (¼ cup): 12 grams fructose
- Dried Figs (¼ cup.): 9 grams fructose
- Orange Juice (8 ounces): 25 grams fructose
- Honey (1 Tbsp): 12 grams fructose
- Maple Syrup (1 Tbsp): 6 grams fructose
- Agave Nectar (1 Tbsp): Up to 15 grams fructose
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sprinkle a few raisins on your salad or that you can’t enjoy a couple of dates here or there. But you do need to be aware of portion size and understand that these are treats – not foods you should be eating to “manage your blood sugar”. (Learn about the dangers of fructose here)
And that brings me back to that sugar-pushing Prevention article that’s got me so sour.
Promoting Pills… Not a Preventive Lifestyle
So why – out of thousands of healthy, delicious, blood-sugar friendly foods to choose from – did dates wind up in Prevention’s Top 14 that are “best” for diabetes?
I can think of twenty foods off the top of my head that would be better than that. And I bet you can too.
Yet Prevention touts these sugar-bombs as “a perfect diabetes-friendly snack” and they don’t say a word about eating them in moderation!
They also include instant oats (the highest glycemic variety you can buy!) and low fat or fat free milk (which is MUCH higher in sugar than the full-fat version and has been shown in numerous studies to worsen diabetes) in their 14 Diabetes Superfoods.
Prevention should know how bad this advice is considering they published books called “The Glycemic Load Diet” and “The Sugar Solution”.
So why would they make such blatant contradictions? And how can you trust them?
The answers: Financial interests… and you can’t.
A quick trip around their website and you’ll see pharmaceutical ads popping up for a laundry list of ailments – from Alzheimer’s to diabetes.
So when you read a story for “12 Ways to Never Get Diabetes” adjacent to an ad for the diabetes drug Metformin, you ought to pause and question validity of the information. After all, if you never get diabetes (or if you reverse your diabetes, which is entirely possible!) what would that mean for Prevention’s advertisers?
Of course, you could make the argument that this is not some grand conspiracy to benefit their advertisers. But if that’s the case, it would mean that the editors of Prevention are either too ignorant to know which foods and nutrients truly promote health and protect against disease… or they simply don’t care.
Am I surprised by it? Not really.
Actually, this is exactly what you can expect from the big, faceless, advertising-supported health websites out there. They ALL do it.
And that’s What Makes Healing Gourmet So Different…
Unlike our competitors, Healing Gourmet does not produce content to please our advertisers… we don’t talk out of both sides of our mouth… we don’t preach the same “politically correct” claptrap you’ve been deceptively dished for decades… and we’ll never feed you menus based on the fatally-flawed, commodity-crop-pushing USDA pyramid.
We are here to provide you with fresh, unbiased information and tools to help you make the best choices for you and your family.
And fortunately for you, that does NOT mean sacrificing!
In fact, when you use the intelligent ingredients we rely on at Healing Gourmet, you can enjoy all of your favorite foods – including pizza, pasta, cupcakes and cookies – while keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels in perfect check.
Healing Gourmet’s Top 14 Diabetes Defying Foods
When it comes to diabetes, there are a myriad of delicious foods that have powerful positive effects on your health – from stabilizing blood sugar and insulin levels, to stoking your metabolism and promoting fat-burning, to providing potent antioxidant protection.
So, here’s our list of the top 14 diabetes-defying foods you should have on your shopping list:
- Wild Salmon
- Pasture-Raised Poultry & Eggs
- Grass-Fed Beef
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Organic Coffee
- Red Wine (in moderation, and with meals, please!)
- Olive Oil
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
To learn about how these foods (and hundreds more!) can help beat diabetes and sculpt the lean healthy body you deserve, check out our diabetes diet section as well as hundreds of delicious diabetes recipes (yes, including all-natural, sugar-free dessert recipes!).
The NIH disagrees with you.
See the 2011 research article “Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects”
By Juma M Alkaabi, Bayan Al-Dabbagh, […], and Mustafa Al Ghazali
“This study was designed to determine the glycemic indices of five commonly used varieties of dates in healthy subjects and their effects on postprandial glucose excursions in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus…
The results show low glycemic indices for the five types of dates included in the study and that their consumption by diabetic individuals does not result in significant postprandial glucose excursions. These findings point to the potential benefits of dates for diabetic subjects when used in a healthy balanced diet.”
Thank you Tellia. From all that I have read, dates are good for everyone, including diabetics, though
they may need to moderate intake.
How about amending your article, Kelley?
Kelley Herring says
Your statement that “Dates are good for everyone” is exactly the kind of misguided dietary dogma that has gotten our collective health into trouble.
I know you want to believe dates are “healthy” because they taste good. But for optimum health, it is imperative to reduce sugar (especially fructose) in our diets.
And no, I don’t write articles to appease people and tell them what they want to believe because it’s comfortable. I write to educate people and tell them what they need to hear… so they can make the important (and often challenging) changes necessary to live healthier lives.
Kelley Herring says
No, the NIH doesn’t disagree with me.
Fructose doesn’t raise postprandial glucose… but is does raise postprandial fructose (which is even more important) because it raises triglycerides, promotes a fatty liver, increases blood pressure, and causes the most glycation (Read: Aging, cancer and all other chronic diseases). Just because dates don’t raise diabetics’ blood glucose doesn’t mean they are health-promoting. Quite the contrary.
Here is additional fructose research: https://healinggourmet.com/paleo-diet/dangers-fructose-paleo-diet/
Also, a few studies at the NIH on fructose and health for you to read:
Lim J.S., Mietus-Snyder M.L., Valente A., Schwartz J.M., and Lustig R.H. “Fructose, NAFLD, and metabolic syndrome,” Dept. of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 2009
Ouyang X., Cirillo P., Sautin Y., McCall S., Bruchette J.L., Diehl A.M. Johnson R.J., Abdelmalek M.F. “Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” J. Hepatol. 2008 Jun;48(6):993-9
Le K.A., Ilth M., Kreis R., Faeh D., Bortolotti M., Tran C., Boesch C., and Tappy L. “Fructose overconsumption causes dyslipidemia and ectopic lipid deposition in healthy subjects with and without a family history of type 2 diabetes” Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1760-5
I totally disagree . All fruits working as well with diabetics as last studies proved that . Dates are proven that it won’t hurt pancrea but it keep it safe . Our body can’t live without sugar . Stop driving people crazy with pills . The first thing which hurt the diabetics are pills . God created for human food for cure and human created pills for cure . Who is right !
Kelley Herring says
Dates keep the pancreas safe? Please share your studies.
Also, the body can absolutely “live without sugar”. Carbs are the only non-essential macronutrient. The body’s cleaner-burner, more efficient fuel source is fat.