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Are Dates Fattening?

Dates are usually eaten dried. They’re available from ethnic food shops and increasingly from mainstream supermarkets too. As their popularity increases, of course more people want to know: are dates fattening?

Dates are a treat. It’s important to remember what foods are alternatives to dates. They’re not going to replace a chicken breast or a big thick steak as the major protein source around which a traditional western-style dinner is based. They’re not going to take up half your plate, or form the basis of your breakfast; when you but dates you’re not replacing potatoes or cornflakes. You’re replacing chocolate, candy or cakes. The real question is, how fattening are dates compared to other treats?

Dates have a high fructose content. Fructose is fruit sugar, and it’s a particularly bad sugar from the weight gain perspective. But dates don’t have anything like as much sugar, period, as actual candy, which is often almost pure sugar. They also contain a fairly high quantity of dietary fiber and some vitamins survive the drying process. Dates are bulky compared to candy and they have a range of carbohydrate-sugar in them, meaning they’re going to have a lower glycemic index than most of the products they replace.

Are dates fattening? Well, eaten as a staple diet, yes. But eaten as an alternative to doughnuts they’re a good choice for weight control.

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