Ask the Expert: The Date Debate

There is a lot of controversy over dates and diabetes; are they helpful or harmful?  You can read 10 different reports and get 10 different answers.  Some say that dates are very high on the glycemic index putting them at 103 even though the index only typically goes to 100.  There are also others that say they are only 35 on the glycemic index.  Similarly, the fiber content is also ever changing; some reports say there is 2g of fiber in 3 dates where some reports say there is 4g of fiber per date.  Why so much conflicting information? There are many types of dates and each type has a different glycemic number and it also depends on who is funding the research, quite frankly.

Ultimately, every person’s body is unique and reacts to different foods in different ways.  Their reaction depends on their weight, if they are obese, if they are diabetic, have hypertension, high cholesterol and even their degree of physical activity plays an important role in determining their reactions. 

 It is true that dates are high in many vitamins and minerals and do have fiber but they also have a high amount of natural sugars.  This is why vegetables are the favoured food of choice over fruits in weight loss plans and healthful diets.  They are fiber filled, nutrient packed, low calorie and low sugar dynamos.  Not to say you shouldn’t eat fruit but vegetables are the front runner when it comes to nutritional value.

The general consensus is that dates would be fine eaten in moderation along with good protein and fat sources.  See  Pistachio-Stuffed Dates with Coconut recipe below.  When in doubt, with any food, check your sugar levels 1 hour after eating a suspect food.  That will be your telltale for your own body.  

Pistachio-Stuffed Dates with Coconut

Sarah Britton, Terry Walters, Shira Bocar, “New Year New You,” Whole Living, February 2012, 82.

Serves 4


½ cup shelled pistachios

Pinch course salt

16 pitted dates

1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted


  • In a food processor, puree pistachios until a thick paste forms, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.
  • Spoon mixture into dates.
  • Top with coconut.

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Alisa Davies is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Culinary Nutrition Expert and has been in the health and wellness field for many years.  She specializes in natural nutrition, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, healthy eating habits for kids, weight loss, inflammatory conditions, custom eating plans and recipe development.  Contact Alisa at Movement Unlimited Inc. at 905-892-1239  or 905-964-2026 or email her at