Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on dried fruit. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Soymilk: shake it up! and Best Dried Fruit For Cholesterol 

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1044983008 Lachicavegana Comefrutas

    I’m Yerba mate Girl, and I am SO thankful about this one!! So dates didn’t raise blood sugar?? And lowered triglycerides? That’s crazy good!!!! So the low fluffing raw fooders may have missed the mark? YEAH!! Going to order from The Date People this year!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I love the Date People! I’m averse to endorsing any sort of products or brands, but I’m a huge date fan and these are my favorite. But if anyone has another favorite I’ll certainly check them out.

  • LouiseF

    Great information! Thank you!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      You are absolutely welcome! As an aside, has anyone tried barhi dates? I’ve also seen them spelled barhee. They are my favorite. I freeze them (they are one of the moistest dates) and then eat them with apples and I swear it tastes like the caramel apples of my youth! Any other varieties out there people love that I should try?

      • Ibraheem Baghdadi

        Yes doctor, its one of the types that widely produced in my country. But its precious very expensive, especially the big size ones. When its yellow prematured, it will be very delicious. After fully matured its better to freeze it. As being frozen the taste will improved.

  • lisakskinner

    This is great news! Dates are a favorite treat in our household, I buy medjools at the shuk (open air market) here in Jerusalem. I’ll have to try the barhi and khadrawi varieties. Thanks for the tip about freezing, I’ll try it with the medjools, it sounds like a tasty summer treat.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Ooh, I’m jealous Lisa–I bet you get the freshest dates!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=676800493 Benjamin Stone

    Despite my best efforts I have never been able to source a halawi date, only medjool. Still looking!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I’m sure you can get any kind online, but I’ve found locally my best bets are middle eastern and Indian grocery stores (great place to also get cheap spices). And evidently Ramadan is a good time of the year to find great dates. You’re a little late, but maybe you’ll find some bargains!

      • NYC

        You can get Delilah Halawi Dates at Fairway.

  • dave23

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    Thank you for this fantastic, resourceful website. I’m a bit confused on how much fruit is safe to consume. The study you quote here says it’s healthy but there are other well known Doctors who say one should not consume more than 2 – 3 fruits per day. Apparently it can harm our liver and raise triglycerides? Thanks for clarifying.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      The only thing I can imagine they’re thinking about is the relationship between rising fructose consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but the fructose is coming from high fructose corn syrup (mostly from soft drinks) and table sugar, not fruit. See for example this recent article. Fruit may even have beneficial effects, for example this study on prunes and liver function. As far as I (and as far as I can tell the best available science) am concerned, the more fruit the better.

    • DrDons

      Hi Dave23, Dr. Gregers articles provide good information concerning this issue. Fructose is metabolized solely in the liver whereas glucose is metabolized by all cells. Most studies of the adverse effects of fructose have been done on intake of HFCS in beverages. It does raise the concern that the fructose in fruits might be an issue. Fruits contain fructose, glucose and sucrose(half glucose,half fructose). Fruits also come with fiber and nutrients. There are some health care professionals that are speaking of fructose as a bad thing. At this time I know of no studies which would support this conclusion. Eating a variety of whole foods seems to be the best approach. Avoiding sweetened drinks and processed foods with High Fructose Corn Syrup(HFCS) added seems to be best approach.

  • dave23

    I checked and they said that the issue is not just with high fructose corn syrup but with insulin resistance and fruit can still be an issue. Apparently fruit can be problematic with people that have insulin resistance?

    • cubancuervo

      Fruits naturally contain sugar, but most do not have a great affect on blood sugar. Watermelon and pineapple are the exceptions because they have a high glycemic index, which means they rapidly increase blood sugar. Fruits are an important component to a healthy whole-foods, plant-based diet. Check out this video on fruit and vegetable recommendations http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/nine-servings-a-day-minimum/. Find out which fruits are best for cancer prevention http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/best-fruits-for-cancer-prevention/. Here is a video on treating diabetes with diet http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/how-to-treat-diabetes/.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Please ask for some science to back up their assertions–I’d be happy to review any papers they have, as what I’m seeing in the scientific literature is studies showing phytonutrients in fruits may actually improve insulin sensitivity (see this study on blueberries for instance).

      • Valerie Tonner

        Would not naturally occurring sugars, in their whole food state be part of the reason why fruit sugars have health benefits while processed and synthetic sugars have health risks?

  • sherala

    Hello,

    I am happy to say I regularly enjoy black sphinx dates as I from, & still live in, the Phoenix area. If you’ve never tried one, I highly recommend them. They’re delicious and taste a bit like honey.

    If you are unfamiliar, check this out: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/programs/ark_product_detail/black_sphinx_date/

    Thank you for your informative site!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you for posting the tip!

  • Iggyputty

    Dr greger,

    General question on sugar – if 80%+ of my diet is whole food based veganism, how much harm is there in a serious sweet tooth? Several times a week probably, I have banana ice cream (frozen banana, vanilla, soy milk, cocoa powder in vitamix) with chocolate chips and/or homemade chocolate cake (ie whole wheat flour, now dates). Occasionally (several times a month) I indulge in high sugar candy like jelly bellies or vegan candy corn. Other than that, I don’t drink soda (I use either juice or erythritol sweetened drinks with my citrucel/miralax) or eat high sugar cereal (does kashi crunch count?). With that data, is this sweet tooth a problem, and do I need to cut back? Thanks.

    • http://twitter.com/little_bluej Jess Brooks

      You don’t have a sweet tooth problem. Humans are made to eat carbs! Your body is craving sweet things because it wants more carbs. Try adding more sweet fruit to your diet.

    • forwhatitsworth

      Iggyputty,

      I don’t want to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong since you addressed your question to Dr. G. So no problem if you don’t want my input.

      I’ve eaten the whole gamut of diets (omni, veggie, raw, vegan) and am now vegetarian again. I also have a sweet tooth, sometimes more than others. Moderation with it is definitely a wise move. I know that if I’m not eating a wide variety of veggies especially greens I’m depriving myself of lots of vitamins and minerals. Chlorophyl is our friend.

      All the best…

  • KateV49

    Does this information about dates apply to dried dates as well as fresh? I LOVE dried dates but have tried to avoid them because of the high concentration of sugar.

    • Toxins

      Indeed, this information is totally relevant to dried dates. There is not much water in fresh dates to begin with. The concentration of sugar does not increase with dried vs. fresh dates.

  • catchley

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    I’m so confused about the date discussion here – as I am regarding all dried fruits for that matter. For example, dried plums or dried apricots have nearly HALF as much sugar as dates. Considering the research study that you mention, how can date sugar be any different than sugar in ANY dried fruit? Isn’t there ample evidence of the dangers of sugar to the cardiovascular system as well as the addictive nature of sugar in the way it stimulates the same region of the brain as does cocaine? Wouldn’t date sugar have the same affect at least with regard to the addiction factor?

    Last night’s “60 Minutes” segment on CBS,
    , presented a compelling case to definitely eliminate processed sugar, but I’m not clear about highly concentrated sugar found in some fruits such as dates.

    There’s also Dr. Lustig’s widely viewed lecture on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM, that he gave at UCSF that goes into detail regarding the dangers of high concentrations of sugar. Have you viewed these videos, and if so, what are your thoughts?

    Furthermore, it is certainly not uncommon for the conclusions from a scientific study to be later refuted as more evidence is collected. Isn’t it premature to draw such a conclusion about dates from this one study that you present?

    I would love to know your thinking on the matter as our family is attempting to follow the healthiest diet possible and cutting out sugar completely won’t fly with most of our members.

    Thank you so much!

    • Toxins

      Date sugar is not really sugar, its ground up dates. You would be eating a whole food. I don’t know anybody that would say eating fruits is not good for you!

  • ESSENIC ™

     Yum! :)

  • Assaf

    Hi Dr Greger,
    i wanted to ask – Does aerobic exercising and sweating reduce the level sodium on our body and can actually balance the sodium levels of our body?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.r.ard Lauren Rae Layton Ard

    To anyone who sees this, I wanted to share my healthy “brownie” recipe. After seeing the videos about cocoa, dates, and nuts, I knew I had to give it a try, and they turned out DELICIOUS. You will not miss the old brownies after this! And, the best part is, you can eat as many as you want because every single ingredient is healthy!

    1 c dates
    1 c walnuts (I’m sure any nuts will work though)
    1/4 c cocoa (or to taste – everyone likes different amounts)
    2 tsp vanilla extract

    Put all of this in a high-powered blender (like Vitamix) and blend to desired consistency. We like ours with chunks of walnut still intact, but you could also blend them perfectly smooth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/margie.adelman Margie Adelman

      then what? after you blend it. Do you bake them or just put them in a pan and let it sit and then cut them?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750664596 Eliane Mendes

        Don’t cook. It is a raw recipe!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670735069 Tan Truong

      Thanks. Healthy and sweet. Will try.

    • Justasomeone

      Actually the high fat will make you lethargic. I was making something similar to this with coconut shreds instead of cocoa and no vanilla and did not feel as optimal as when I do low-fat. Low fat, high carb, fruit based raw vegan is most optimal.

    • Jennalyn

      No you cannot eat as many as you want just because something is made with “healthy” ingredients…1 cup of dates has 400 calories and 1 cup of walnuts has 800 calories and while these ingredients are healthy ingredients and good for you as opposed to refined sugars and white flour…eating an entire pan of these brownies in one sitting would be 1,200 calories. A healthy calorie is still a calorie and too many calories will make you fat.

  • mbglife

    I know that studies can be wrong, but I’m going to take this one on face value that the high sugar content isn’t a problem. In fact, I’ve even taken to putting a date in my coffee to take the edge off of it (can’t find date sugar). But I have another question, should we be at all concerned about it’s rating as “strongly inflammatory” on the Nutrition Data website. I read somewhere the analytical basis for their ratings is proprietary and many of their inflammation ratings cannot be verified. But is there any reason to go easy based on this rating.
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1882/2

  • mbglife

    I am taking it on face value that the results of the study are valid and trump any concern about too much sugar. But I noticed on the Nutrition Data site that dates are rated as “strongly inflammatory. Is there any reason to be concerned about that? As an aside, I have also read from some supporters of that sites, that Nutrition Data’s inflammation ratings are based on secret, proprietary analyses, and therefore cannot be verified.
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1882/2

  • Aaron

    Just found a delicious date-based “candy” bar from a UK company – http://www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk/nakd/

    One of their bars is called “Pecan Pie” – Ingredients:Dates (52%), Pecans (28%), Almonds (20%), natural flavour

    Since I just learned that dates are the healthiest sweet, and pecans are the healthiest nut (thanks Doc!) I’ll be ordering up a case of these bars to stave off the occasional sweets cravings.

    I tried the orange chocolate ones today, they taste like Eatmore bars (or maybe tootsie rolls), only better!

    • Kara

      Perhaps adding fats, in the form of nuts, to your dates creates a new problem; high blood sugar. Fats may interfere with the work of insulin and slows the uptake of sugar into our cells.

  • zainab

    ajwa dates are probably the best dates ever,they are grown in arabia,you maybe able to find it in arabian groceries if lucky

  • lero

    I love dates ! Could you please link the studies mentioned in this video ? Or do they require some sort of subscription ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670735069 Tan Truong

    Yeah dates. Dates for so many things from sweetening to a carb source for exercise.

  • John

    Any thoughts on whether it is worth paying several times more for organic dates? To your knowledge are pesticide etc residues an issue. What about possible toxicity of natural chemicals used on organic produce. Info I have come across confusing. Any insight much appreciated. Thanks, John

  • AqiylHenry

    I love Medjool dates

  • hectorosvaldo

    I understand that and why dates are healthy, but what about date butter?

  • Ilana

    I’ve read that dates are a laxative similar to prunes. Is this true? How many dates per day are safe to consume? Thanks!

  • VegasVeganGirl

    I LOVE your website and great little videos on nutrition, backed up by peer-reviewed literature! I just wandered onto this post on dates. I fell in love with them during my nine years in Egypt and have been fascinated ever since. The dates there are FANTASTIC and quite different than California dates. Eric Hansen, who wrote one of my favorite books ever (On Foot Across Borneo), also wrote two wonderful articles with a lot of good information on dates a few years ago. One on dates in North Africa, the other in California. I have them as PDFs and can send them if you are interested. He mentioned the Flying Disc Ranch and I order from them. The Yellow Barhi (fresh) are my favorites, but I also have about 8 other varieties in my freezer. Thanks for letting us know what I suspected all along; that dates are good for you!

    My favorite is a Barhi date with 1-2 macademia nuts. Sweet and salty mmmm!

    • heather

      I’d love to read both PDF articles, if you are willing to send them.

      Thank you so much.

      HEATHERMEDJOOL@GMAIL.COM

    • Stef

      Hi VegasVeganGirl
      Would love to see the PDFs too…many thanks.
      stef.moore@hotmail.com

    • Shayna Teicher

      can I say “me, too!”? if anyone would be kind enough to send them to me I would be greatly appreciative. shaynajoy83@gmail.com

  • RAJVEER

    IS USING DATES SYRUP INSTEAD OF SUGAR AS SWEETENER IN MILK, YOGHURT AND TEA A HEALTHY OPTION? HOW MANY MLS OF DATE SYRUP IS GOOD FOR NON DIABETIC OBESE PERSON?

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      If your goal is to lose fat… you mentioned that the person in question is “obese” you should be eating less calorie dense foods. Since fat is the most calorie dense food relative to carbohydrates and proteins you should be minimizing refined sugar intake and increasing tea and minimizing and hopefully eliminating yoghurt and milk. Best resources to introduce you to the concepts are the DVD available on Jeff Novick’s website entitled, Calorie Density: Eat More, Weigh Less and Live Longer and the presentation by Doug Lisle, How to Lose Weight without losing your Mind, available on YouTube. You can check out the calorie density of each food on Cronometer by entering food selecting gram(g) as serving size and entering 454(grams per pound). Check out yoghurt, milk, sugar and dates then check out potatoes, vegetables, brown rice and you will get some information. You might enjoy watching John McDougall’s free presentation on his website entitled, The Starch Solution. Good luck.

  • Louie

    I am new to this site and I enjoy all these videos comparing all these great foods head to head. It is helping me make better decisions. Although I always wondered what is the criteria used to measure a “helpful” or “harmful” foods? because as I suspect, it is a combination of multiple factors that play together to determine how healthy a food is. I get asked that question all the time and it would be helpful to put together a video outlining the test methodology.

    Once again, great effort and thank you for doing this, it helps to bring that information down to the mere mortals of us.

  • Roland Lindgren

    Hi Doctor. I have a growth in the bladder. I have had tests and seems it is not malignant. I am using molasses and baking soda treatment for cancer anyway. Am wondering if dates would be beneficial to eat.

  • Sebastian Tristan

    I knew my taste buds weren’t lying to me. Too bad that I’ve never seen Hallawi dates in grocery stores around here. On the positive side, I love Medjool dates.

  • Joyce

    Black mold in medjool dates how toxic

  • Geoffrey Levens

    I Love dates! AND if they only measured fasting blood sugar and not postprandial highs, they were missing a lot of potential long term damage. One month is really nothing in the scheme of things. Load up your diet w/ dates for several years then get back to me. Watch for fungal infections (like candida overgrowth), rotten teeth, gradually increasing blood sugar spikes. Eventually you may well show increase insulin resistance but that could be way down the line for many. The other things are quite common in those who eat “excessive” fruit like 80-10-10 type diet.

    • Toxins

      80-10-10 doesn’t require copious fruit consumption, as this macronutrient guideline is in line with Dr. Gregers message. A low fat whole foods plant based diet should be very high in carbohydrates from whole plant sources, including complex starches as well as fruits. Fruits tend not to spike blood sugars because of the fiber which allows slow release.

  • omnimatty

    I’m so happy they are. I’m doing vegan cuisine–whole-food, plant-based with no sugar, oil or salt, this year, and without dates I’d have a hard time.

    • Thea

      omnimatty: Congrats on a great diet commitment. You are at a place few people seem able to get to.

      While I can’t claim to be sugar, oil or salt-free, I share with you a great reliance on dates. So versatile and sweet!

      • omnimatty

        Thanks Thea, Day 58, forget about eating out…good thing I love cooking. I have been making date paste and just putting it everywhere. :) Good thing they are potentially the most healthy food :) Those researchers should study me :)

  • Judy Irwin Kelley

    I had a date that puffed black powder into my mouth. Is this dangerous?

    • dogulas

      Did you go out with him again?

  • http://www.lifestylepower.blogspot.com Howard Veit

    Wow, Dr. Greger, this is great news from two perspectives. One, I am a whole foods plant-based vegan who eats many dates each day for desserts, snacks and on my bike as energy food ( I am a long-distance cyclist). Dates are to me what energy gels are to most cyclists. Second, I, too, love The Date People. I have been eating their dates for several months now. They are wonderful! I was a bit worried that maybe I was eating too much sugar, but you have put my mind at ease. THANKS!

  • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

    So should we just ignore the glycemic index/glycemic load calculations for dates and other fruits? The GL of one date is about 9, depending of course on the variety. I’ve always heard that we should aim to cap GL at around 100/day. Is that correct?

    What do you make of these calculations? http://glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php and http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/7348/2

    Why do you think that 10 healthy subjects eating 4 dates a day for 4 weeks didn’t have increases in fasting blood glucose? Were they eating dates on an empty stomach– or after meals? Were they eating anything else at the same time that could have slowed down release of sugars? How long after eating dates were their bloods drawn? I’d love to read the entire study.

  • Ben

    However, I suspect the biggest impact fruits and veggies have is not on increasing lifespan but on quality of life, especially in old age, like the 90-100 year old Okinawans still tending to their gardens.

  • anderson

    the middle east people testing for goodness of dates is like the ciggy companies testing for how healthy smoking is.

    • Toxins

      Are you implying dates are unhealthy?

  • Elizabeth B

    Dr. Greger, a few months ago I ate my first date, it was great. I cut out all my processed crackers and ate dates instead. However, I noticed I would get a really bad migraine a few hours after consumption and sadly had to stop eating them. Could this be an allergy? Thanks.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      This is most likely not an allergy. Migraine headaches are often triggered by certain foods. In my clinical practice many of my patients with migraines had success with avoiding food high in tyramine. There are a variety of low tyramine diets on line… the national headache foundation has one. Of course, the first step is to make sure the diagnosis is correct… not all headaches are migraines. If they are I would recommend make a list of everything you ate the 24 hours preceding your headache and cross check with foods listed on the low tyramine diet. In my experience most folks who are under stress eat much differently during stressful periods in their life. Skipping meals leads to larger meals and more tyramine. The amount of tyramine in stored foods goes up during storage so leftovers can be an issue. Eating out can pose challenges. You need to work with your physician(s) but if you can determine your triggers it is always best to prevent migraines. I had one patient decrease migraines by eliminating peanuts. Another found that meat tenderizer was a trigger. The interesting thing is that there are some plant foods that are high in tyramines such as snow peas, olives and raw onions. I couldn’t find dates listed on the diets i checked but it doesn’t matter if they are on a diet or not if they trigger your headaches you should avoid. Good luck.

  • Arun Mukherjee

    Can some one with Type 2 diabetes eat dates safely? And how many?

  • Melissa R.

    I make a mock sweet potato pie with microwaved sweet potato(es), dates, cinnamon (preferably ceylon), ground ginger, allspice, and some nutmeg. I may also put some frozen berries on top.

    • Thea

      Melissa: Sounds so yummmm! I’ve heard people share similar ideas before. I just need to get down and actually do it.

  • Ravi K

    Phew!! I was almost afraid to open that video :-D, If dates turned out bad it would have been bad for me since I use them in smoothies and munch on a few when I need a snack. Surrounded by Mid-Eastern and Indian stores dates are quite readily available around where I am.

    • Thea

      Ravi: I know what you mean! I’m a fan of dates too. Lucky you to have such a nice supply around.