Dates for Diabetes… Has the Sugar Gone to their Brain?

Posted on February 14, 2012
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by Kelley Herring

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

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”.

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:

  1. Wild Salmon
  2. Pasture-Raised Poultry & Eggs
  3. Grass-Fed Beef
  4. Dark Leafy Greens
  5. Nuts
  6. Avocados
  7. Blueberries
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Organic Coffee
  10. Red Wine (in moderation, and with meals, please!)
  11. Tea
  12. Olive Oil
  13. Cocoa
  14. 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 comprehensive disease prevention, fat loss and nutritional program – The Food Cure  – where you’ll learn:

  • Which delicious “meal in a glass” reduced the blood sugar spike of pure glucose by 56% and made insulin 60% more effective (p. 21 of Your Guide to Living a Low-Glycemic Lifestyle)
  • Which food was shown to boost feelings of fullness by 59%, while discouraging the storage of fat (p. 13 of Your Guide to Living a Low Glycemic Lifestyle)
  • The healthy foods that were found to melt belly fat – without a single minute of exercise! (p. 29 Fats That Heal, Fats That Harm)
  • The “diabetic-safe” sweetener found in hundreds of products which actually promotes weight gain and worsens diabetes! (p. 17 of Your Kitchen Makeover)
  • Which chemicals were found to increase diabetes risk by 3,700% in a study published in Diabetes Care and the easy ways to avoid them (p. 20 Organics: Beyond Green)
  • Much, much more!

In The Food Cure, you’ll also learn how to select and prepare the healthiest foods… how to avoid the hidden dangers in our modern food supply… and how to detect the early warning signs of chronic disease. PLUS natural and highly effective ways to detoxify your body from years of dietary damage.

Click here to learn more and invest in your health today!

We hope that you will continue to read and support Healing Gourmet as you seek the blueprint to a life of wellness and healthy abundance.

Did you enjoy this article? We want to hear from you! Post your comments below or check out our Facebook page and join the discussion there.


17 Responses to Dates for Diabetes… Has the Sugar Gone to their Brain?

  1. hi,

    i was shocked to read that drinking low fat or skim milk is worse than drinking whole milk, is that really true?

    i would appreciate your comments, thank you
    Barbara Petrizzo

  2. Wow I was about to subscribe to Prevention! Thanks for being who you are and putting life ahead of $$$$$$$$!

  3. Thank you so much for this information. To me, this is terrible news! I absolutely adore dates, figs and raisins! They are my preferred dried fruits. I often mix them in my salads with toasted almonds or pecans. Fortunately I am very thin, however this doesn’t mean I don’t have to watch out for excess blood sugar. In a future newsletter could you share salad options?
    Thank you!

  4. Mairi Krausse says:

    This article was wonderfully thought out and relevant! Those major pharmaceutical based websites are never trustworthy, and it’s a shame that so many people are fooled! What is wrong with companies that seek profits over the health of the common man? How can they do such a thing in good conscience? How can their scientists allow such unhealthy lies? What about their own relatives and children, don’t they care about anyone? Thank goodness you’re around to help keep things straight. I’m so glad to have found you!

  5. Kay Daly says:

    Keep up the good work for those of us feeling what’s beyond frustration at trying to wade through misinformation about blood sugar control. It’s daunting and infuriating. Early in my fight to control iatrogenic type 2 diabetes, I was given a printed brochure in the doctor’s office which told me how many Chicken McNuggets a diabetic might eat as a serving; I have never in my life been foolish enough to eat a Chicken McNugget.

    Your sensible comments are much appreciated by those of us who have learned to avoid WebMD, the American Diabetic Association, and many other groups with hidden agendas who manipulate us.

  6. Thank you for all the information contained in your article. Some of it my husband and I alrady knew, BUT we learned a lot too.
    Especially about dates (which both of us absolutely adore!)Alas, we won’t be eating them anymore. Yes, we know about moderation, but who can eat just 1 or 2 dates once in a while? The other thing we
    need to watch for is fructose, as you stated.
    I was diagnosed with Diabetes 3 years ago, and was in the hospital for over a month. When I left the hospital I asked my doctor when I could stop taking insulin, and he said NEVER!! (I am talking about Type 2)
    I decided to educate myself, learn what to eat and what not to eat, and for the past year or so I have reversed my diabetes. Margaret and John

  7. Cathy says:

    Darn!! Love dates and use them sometimes instead of sugar. Back to the drawing board. Thanks Kelly for your research and reading all of the info for us, there is alot out and is quite confusing. Have been telling everyone about your website and need to try some of your recipies. Thank you and Happy Valentines Day!! Cathy

  8. Jon Herring says:

    Hi Everyone… thanks for the comments. I think that it’s not really so much of a condemnation of dates. When eaten in moderation, by someone who is physically active and does not have blood sugar issues… a couple dates here or there is not a problem.

    The bigger issue is that Prevention would recommend these high sugar fruits to those with diabetes as a way to control and manage blood sugar. Not to mention that they would recommend eating seven dates (over 100 grams of sugar!) just to get a few grams of fiber.

  9. Christine franks says:

    Great article – would like it in book form. But don’t forget to edit – guess you know by now, but the text under “And that’s What Makes Healing Gourmet So Different…” is repeated twice. cheers Christne

  10. Jon Herring says:

    Barbara… there is plenty of research out there about why and how healthy fats (including saturated fat) have been wrongly villainized by government health organiztions, mainstream medicine and the media. It’s also covered in depth in Kelley’s book Fats that Heal, Fats that Harm, which is part of the Food Cure series… so I won’t address that can of worms here.

    However regarding skim milk it’s pretty simple. When the fat is removed, there is a higher percentage on of lactose (milk sugar) in the final product… and therefore a higher glycemic index and effect on blood sugar. It is an unbalanced, sugary drink (even though it doesn’t really taste sweet). Interestingly, when farmers want to fatten pigs, they mix their feed with skim milk.

  11. kelley says:

    Thanks for the comments and kind words, everyone! Using dates (or any other dried fruit) as a condiment is the best way to consume them, if you choose to do so. For example, one dried fig sliced up and put over a salad of organic arugula with some sliced almonds and balsamic vinegar – just enough dried fruit so you get the flavor. Alicia’s got the right idea! The problem for many of us is that when we have these high sugar foods readily available in our kitchens, we tend to reach for them as snacks. Two dates here, a handful of raisins there and before you know it you’ve consumed a whopping 50 grams of sugar in a day… from dried fruit alone! Not only does this boost insulin levels and encourage the storage of fat, but you’ll be hungry again when your blood sugar drops. And then you eat more. So it’s really a double whammy. If you’re a disciplined type who’s able to keep dates and raisins and figs in your fridge and sprinkle them judiciously on salads, then more power to you! The problem lies in relying on these foods as snacks (as Prevention recommends) instead of healthier, low glycemic options.

  12. Janet Bell says:

    Very informative. I agree with the comment on non-fat or low fat milk having more sugar than the whole milk. I knew this was true of other low fat, non fat foods but did not realize that milk was included. I am very eager to change our menus and foods to comply with your recommendations and look foward to the end results in our total health.

    Please note the change in email address.(old email: italy

    Janet Bell

  13. Joyce Selkow says:

    There have been recent studies about the revised glycemic index of dates. This is from, one of the most reliable sources of the GI on the web.
    “Are Dates Low Glycemic?
    I love dates, particularly the soft, juicy medjool variety that we grow in California’s Coachella Valley, near where I grew up. But I didn’t eat too many of them because their reported glycemic index is so high—103 where glucose = 100.
    But now as I write I am happily snacking on three dates. It turns out that they are probably low glycemic.

    While I was looking for something else yesterday, I stumbled across the abstract of an article in the May issue of the Saudi Medical Journal, which the Riyadh Al-Kharj Hospital Programme in Saudi Arabia publishes. Campbell J. Miller and his associates at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the United Arab Emirates University reported on the Glycemic index of 3 varieties of dates. The university is in Al Ain, the capital of the eastern region of Abu Dhabi, the largest and most populous of the seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates. This federation is on the south-eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula with Qatar to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Oman to the southeast and northeast. Dates are the UAE’s leading agricultural product, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.

    One type of date, the bahri variety, is readily available here and is smaller, sweeter and a bit firmer than medjools. Dr. Miller and his associates determined that they have a GI of 50.

    Another soft, juicy date that I have been able to identify, the khalas variety, has a GI of 36. They found that the third variety, which I have not been able to identify, bo ma’an dates, have an even lower GI, 31. Neither the khalas nor the bo ma’an varieties appear to be available here.

    Jennie Brand-Miller and her associates at the University of Sydney in Australia were the ones who originally determined that the GI of dates was 103. So I asked her about this new study. Here is what she replied:

    “I always had my doubts about the high value we got when we tested them. It never made sense for dates to be so high when they contain a lot of fibre as well as sugars in the form of fructose and sucrose as well as glucose. I even wondered if those dates had been steeped in glucose syrup.

    “I have a feeling that the values [in the new study] may be correct because they say they tested the carbohydrate content themselves. When we tested them, we relied on the information on the package label. If the product had dried out considerably since packaging, then we would have overestimated the amount need to provide the 50 g carbohydrate portion. Hence we might have fed twice the weight really needed and therefore 100 g instead of 50 g of carbohydrate. Problems such as this come up now and again with GI testing but it is not common.”

    When I wrote Professor Miller, he sent me the article. It confirmed that they used standard testing methods and that they compared the GI of dates against that of glucose equalling 100.

    As a result, I have updated my Glycemic Index Lists accordingly.”

  14. mariano says:

    Thank you for the information. I also love dates but this article has shown me the truth about false advertising from businesses only interested in their bottom lines and not the welfare of people. More power to you and look forward to reading and learning more health inspired articles.

  15. Eve says:

    I enjoy your site, and don’t doubt your knowledge, as I don’t know enough to say otherwise. However, I am perfectly content using dates in desserts still. And if you say they are ok in moderation, why not? Shouldn’t we be eating baked goods in moderation anyway?

    Does putting stevia in instead (which I’ve read used to be used as a contraceptive by tribes in Africa) make eating baked goods ok? Or how about Agave, used in your recipes. Agave is made up of mostly fructose. Maybe you use less of it, but it’s still fructose.

    I am not sure it i a good comparison: 7 nutrient rich dates to 3 cans of coca cola?

  16. Liz says:

    Oh man – thank you! Whenever I go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, I have to wait in line looking at the magazine rack which prominently features one called something like Diabetes Living which has a picture of desserts on the cover every month! What kind of f*ed up nonsense is that?

    It makes me really sad that we as a culture don’t acknowledge the very real addictiveness of sugar. If it weren’t addictive, why would people with life-threatening illnesses (diabetes) and culturally stigmatized bodies (obesity) keep reaching for it? Yeesh.

  17. paul wilson says:

    Hello Kelley,

    I didnt know that dates had this much power in terms of boosting your blood sugar through the roof! My mom has diabetes and Id like to help her as well as escape that trap for myself. Frankly, the money has gone to their brain in terms of the big name magazine companies and drug giants. They want all Americans to become an asset to their obscene profits. Thank you for posting this information.

    Wish you well,

    Paul Wilson

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