Are dates high in sugar & calories?

Although dates are high in sugar, containing more than 66 g per 100g, they have a low Glycemic Index of 55. They don’t spike blood sugar levels. Also, dates are good for weight loss, despite their high calorie content!

Dates have many calories

Dates have a great nutritional value and many health benefits. However, we should consume reasonable amounts because they’re high in calories. Medjool dates, which is the most common date variety, have 277 calories per 100g. Moreover:

  • Just a pitted date has 67 calories.
  • A small serving of 1/4 cup (about 2 small dates) has approximately 100 calories
  • 1/2 cup (3 pitted dates) has 200 calories
  • 1 cup (almost 6 dates) has 400 calories

Other varieties of dried dates have a similar calorie content to medjool dates:

  • Barhi dates have 258 calories per 100g
  • Lulu dates have 293 calories per 100g
  • Farf dates have 308 calories per 100g
  • Khasab dates have 313 calories per 100g
  • Khalas dates have 324 calories per 100g

Different date varieties have up to a 26% difference in their calorie content. Medjool dates are relatively low in calories as compared to other varieties.

Do dates have more calories than other common dried-fruits?

Dates have relatively low amounts of calories as compared to other favorite dried-fruits.

Dried goji berries, dehydrated bananas, plums, dried mangoes, dried blueberries, dried pineapples, and dried cranberries have more than 300 calories per 100g. A handful of these dried fruits provides 4-5% of the total calorie intake for a 2,000 calorie diet.

per 100g
per 1 oz
% DV
(2,000 calorie diet)
goji berries349994.9%
(dried prunes)
Calorie content of common dried fruits.[1]

Actually, only dried figs and apples have fewer calories than dates.

Dates are high in sugar

Dates are very high in sugar. Medjool dates contain 66.5 g of sugar per 100g. Just a pitted date has 16 g of sugar! 1/4 cup provides about 32 g of sugar, whereas 1/2 cup provides 64 g of sugar!

Dates’ content of natural sugars highly depends on the variety, though.

  • Varieties with a low sugar content are Naghal (45g), Lulu (58 g), Fard (57 g), Khasab (56 g), and Barhi dates with 57 g of sugar per 100g.
  • Common date varieties with a high sugar content are Khalas (62 g), Bushibal (67 g), and Gash Gaafar with 74 g of sugar per 100g.[2]

As dates are high in net-carbs, they aren’t keto-friendly.

Do dates have more sugar than other common dried-fruits?

Dates have a medium sugar content as compared to other popular dried fruits. Dried pineapples, cranberries, papayas, blueberries, and cherries, have more sugar per 100g than dates.

sugar (g)
per 100g
sugar (g)
per 1 oz
goji berries4613
Sugar content of favorite dried fruits.

On the contrary, dried fruits, like figs, bananas, goji berries, prunes, and apricots have less than 15 g of sugar per serving.

Certainly, we have to eat reasonable amounts of dried fruits. They’re high in sugar and calories. However, dried fruits are healthy, as they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds. They’re great for satisfying your sweet tooth.

Is the sugar of dates bad for our health?

Certainly, too much added sugar is bad for our health. It’s empty calories. It doesn’t have any nutritional value. As a rule of thumb, most people shouldn’t consume more than 25 g of added sugar a day.[3]

Healthy people can consume much higher amounts of sugar naturally found in fruits, though. Fruits are good for you, despite their high sugar content. They are particularly high in vitamins (e.g. vitamin C), minerals (e.g. iron, calcium, potassium), fiber, and antioxidants!

What’s the main type of sugar in dates?

Dates are rich in glucose and fructose. They contain negligible amounts of other sugars, such as sucrose or maltose. In fact, sugar in dates is 51% glucose and 48% fructose.

Dates have a low Glycemic Index despite their high sugar content

Actually, dates have a low glycemic index of 55, despite their high sugar content. Foods with a glycemic index less or equal to 55 don’t acutely raise blood glucose. These foods are good for people with diabetes.[4]

Dates have a low glycemic index because they’re rich in fructose, fiber, and antioxidant compounds.

Foods high in fructose have a low Glycemic Index

First, fructose doesn’t spike blood glucose because it has to be metabolized by the liver. It isn’t instantly used by the cells as energy as glucose does. Hence, consuming many foods naturally high in fructose are good for people with diabetes and people who want to lose weight because they may aid glycemic control.[5]

However, consuming extremely high amounts of fructose, found in processed foods, can be dangerous for health. It may promote non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Most processed foods contain high amounts of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.[6]

Foods high in fiber have a low GLycemic Index

Furthermore, dates have a low glycemic index as they’re particularly high in fiber. High fiber intake may improve glycemic control. In fact, a fiber-rich diet may reduce blood glucose, ameliorate insulin resistance, control body weight, and even decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.[7,8]

Antioxidants aid glycemic control

Antioxidant compounds may play a key role in insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Polyphenols may be beneficial in prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. In fact, dates have a low glycemic index, partially due to their rich polyphenolic content.[9,10]

Tea, coffee, red wine, grapes, pomegranate, cocoa, olive oil, propolis, whole grains, cinnamon, soy, fruits and berries are only a few excellent dietary sources of health-promoting polyphenols, such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins and resveratrol, which are involved in carbohydrate metabolism.[11]

Can people with diabetes eat dates?

People with diabetes can eat small amounts of dates, despite their high sugar content! According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes can consume up to 15 g of carbs per serving. They should be very cautious with portion sizes, though. People with diabetes can consume up to 2 tbsp of dried fruits, or just a pitted date a day.[12]

Reasonable amounts of dates are beneficial for people with diabetes, though. They help control glucose, and reduce high cholesterol.[13,14]

Always consult your physician before changing your diet.

Can people who want to lose weight eat dates?

Healthy people can eat 2-4 dates a day as part of a well-balanced diet. As dates are high in calories. people who want to lose weight better limit the consumed amount to only 2 dates a day, though. Even 2 dates have 134 calories!

Only athletes and active people can consume higher amounts without gaining weight.

What’s the best time of the day to eat dates?

A great time to eat dates is after exercise. The sugar in dates helps replenish muscle glycogen stores and promote recovery. However, you shouldn’t consume dates before a workout. They can cause adverse effects, such as stomach discomfort, bloating, or gas, due to their high fiber content.

Moreover, you can eat dates between meals. They’re a great snack, as they don’t spike blood sugar levels, due to their low glycemic index. Also, fiber in dates promotes satiety. You can eat almonds, or any other seed or nut with dates. Almonds have a glycemic index of zero, as they’re high in protein, fiber, and healthy fat.

Another great time to eat dates is in the morning. Dates can provide steady levels of energy for hours, without acutely raising or falling blood glucose. Also, dates increase the antioxidant capacity of the body first thing in the morning, helping it fight oxidative stress, due to air pollution, sunlight radiation, or smoking.[15,16,17]

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