Diabetic? Eat moderately to avoid a 'date' with doctor.
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health has advised diabetics to eat dates in moderation during Ramadan because of the effect they can have on sugar levels. The ministry issued a statement on the issue in response to social media reports on the consumption of dates, especially for diabetics. Muhammad bin Yahya Al-Harbi, a consultant in endocrinology and diabetes and director of the diabetes center at the ministry, said too many dates can affect diabetics negatively. "According to the practical experience of physicians specializing in endocrinology and diabetes, high intake by diabetics in a single day is considered one of the main reasons for blood sugar irregularity, which causes high levels of the HA1C (the Hemoglobin A1c Test), because dates are easily chewed and absorbed," Al-Harbi said. He added that people should get proper information about the sugar levels on dates from nutritionists and other experts. Al-Harbi said there were few evidence-based studies about dates available in the Kingdom and that much of the news circulating on social media is taken from the studies conducted in some date-producing countries. "It is known that the variations in the proportion of sugars in dates can be attributed to several factors, including the method of care for palm trees, the cultivation area, climatic conditions 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. Al-Harbi said that according to a study conducted by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, all dates have glucose, fructose and sucrose at almost equal levels, providing a similar amount of energy. Full-grown dates consist of 50 to 85 percent sugar in the pulp, with fully ripe ones having 35 to 55 percent because of the greater amount of water and fiber, as opposed to those that are dried. The amount of sugar would then depend on the size and weight of the date. According to the Mayo Clinic, the purpose of a glycemic index diet is to eat carbohydrate-containing foods that are less likely to cause large increases in blood sugar levels. The diet is a means to lose weight and prevent chronic diseases related to obesity such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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