Is date syrup low glycemic?

Date syrup is a natural sweetener that is growing in popularity as an alternative to refined sugars. It is made from dates, which are dried fruits obtained from the date palm tree. Date syrup contains nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. Many people choose date syrup because it has a low glycemic index, meaning it does not spike blood sugar levels as much as regular sugar. But is date syrup truly low glycemic? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

What is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates based on their effect on blood sugar levels. It ranges from 0 to 100, with pure glucose being 100. Foods are classified as:

  • Low GI: 55 or less
  • Medium GI: 56-69
  • High GI: 70 or more

Foods with a lower GI release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream. This helps control blood sugar spikes and crashes. High GI foods cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. For people with diabetes or prediabetes, choosing more low GI foods can be beneficial.

Glycemic Index of Date Syrup

Most reputable sources list the glycemic index of date syrup between 35-55. This puts it in the low end of the low GI category.

For example, the University of Sydney, which maintains the largest database of GI values internationally, lists the GI of date syrup as 35. This compares favorably to table sugar, which has a GI of 65.

However, it’s important to note that the GI can vary between different brands and types of date syrup. Factors like processing methods and the ripeness of the dates used can affect the GI.

One study tested five commercial brands of date syrup from Saudi Arabia. The GIs ranged from 35.5 to 55.2. The researchers noted that syrup made from very ripe dates tended to have a lower GI.

So in summary, most date syrups fall in the low glycemic range. But there can be some variation depending on the specific product.

Factors Affecting the Glycemic Index of Date Syrup

What makes date syrup have a low GI compared to regular sugar? There are a few key factors at play:

Fiber Content

Dates are naturally high in fiber. A 100 gram serving contains over 6 grams of fiber. Soluble fiber slows digestion, which blunts the impact of the sugars on blood glucose. Date syrup retains a portion of the fiber from the whole dates. This fiber content contributes to the low GI of date syrup.

Fructose Content

Date syrup contains fructose, a type of sugar that has a lower GI than glucose or sucrose (table sugar). Fructose has a GI of only 15 compared to 65 for sucrose. Date syrup contains about half fructose. The fructose composition helps date syrup have a lower GI than plain sugar.

Low Moisture

Date syrup has low moisture content. Its thick, viscous texture slows digestion of the sugars. This extends the time period for sugar absorption into the bloodstream, leading to a gentler impact on blood sugar.


Date syrup contains small amounts of acids like malic, citric, and tartaric acid. Acids help slow down the rate sugars enter the bloodstream and lower the GI value.

So in summary, the fiber, fructose, low moisture, and acid content all contribute to date syrup’s low glycemic impact.

Glycemic Load of Date Syrup

The glycemic index only tells part of the story when looking at a food’s effect on blood sugar. Glycemic load considers the amount of carbohydrates in a typical serving. It is calculated by multiplying the GI by the grams of carbs per serving, then dividing by 100.

Date syrup has a medium glycemic load. A 1 tablespoon serving of date syrup contains about 15 grams of carbs. With a GI of 35-55, this equates to a glycemic load around 5-8.

Values under 10 are considered low GL while over 20 is high. So while date syrup has a low GI, if you consume larger amounts, it can still have a moderate impact on blood sugar. Moderation is key.

Date Syrup and Diabetes

For people with diabetes, low GI foods like date syrup can be an appropriate sweetener in moderation. However, portion control is important.

One study had subjects with type 2 diabetes consume 50 grams of date syrup. This spiked blood sugar levels as high as pure glucose. But when the portion was reduced to 30 grams, the glycemic response improved.

The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 25-50 grams per day. One tablespoon of date syrup contains about 15 grams of sugar. So diabetes patients could potentially fit 1-2 tablespoons of date syrup in their diet as a replacement for other added sugars.

However, it’s best to check with a doctor or dietitian about appropriate portion sizes based on individual health conditions and medication regimens. Dates also contain carbs from fiber and starch, so the total carb content is important, not just the sugars.

Using Date Syrup in a Low Glycemic Diet

Here are some ways to incorporate date syrup into a low glycemic eating pattern:

– Use date syrup in moderation to sweeten foods and beverages. For example, add a drizzle to your morning yogurt or oatmeal.

– Substitute date syrup for half the sugar in baking recipes like cookies, muffins, and cakes. This cuts the GI in half.

– Use date syrup as a glaze for chicken or fish instead of high sugar options like honey or maple syrup.

– Mix date syrup into dressings and dips. The flavor pairs well with tahini and balsamic vinegar.

– Look for recipes the use date syrup, like energy bites and protein balls made with dates, nuts, and oats.

– Add date syrup to plain Greek yogurt and top with fruit and nuts for a parame.

– Mix date syrup into nut butters like almond or peanut butter. Spread on apple slices or celery sticks.

The key is to use just small amounts of date syrup to limit its glycemic impact. Enjoy it alongside foods that are low GI and rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats to further help slow sugar absorption.

Does Fiber Content Affect the Glycemic Index of Date Syrup?

Yes, the fiber content of date syrup is one of the key factors that give it a low glycemic index.

Fiber slows digestion, which means the sugars in date syrup are absorbed more gradually into the bloodstream. Soluble fibers in particular form a gel-like substance that blunts the impact of sugars on blood glucose levels.

Dates are naturally high in soluble fiber. A 100 gram serving contains about 6-8 grams of fiber, both soluble and insoluble types. As the dates are processed into syrup, some of this fiber remains intact.

One study found date syrup contains around 0.5-3 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams. The fiber amounts varied based on the processing method used. Syrup made using a screw press had higher fiber retention than other production methods.

Multiple studies have shown an inverse association between the fiber content of date syrup and its glycemic index. In other words, higher fiber syrups resulted in lower GI values. The fiber content helps explain why date syrup GI values range from 35-55 compared to table sugar which lacks fiber entirely.

So in summary, the soluble and insoluble fiber naturally present in dates contributes to the relatively low glycemic impact of date syrup. Choosing syrups processed to maximize fiber retention can offer the most benefits for blood sugar control.

Comparing Glycemic Index of Date Syrup and Honey

Both date syrup and honey are natural sweeteners touted as healthy alternatives to refined sugars. How do they compare in terms of glycemic impact?

Most types of honey have a moderately high glycemic index, in the range of 55-83. This puts honey squarely in the medium to high GI category.

In contrast, as discussed earlier, most date syrup products have a GI around 35-55, placing them in the low end of the low GI range.

This difference is because date syrup retains some of the fiber from the whole date fruits. Honey lacks fiber, so the glucose is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream. Date syrup also contains fructose and moisture-retaining properties that further slow its digestion.

However, honey has a lower glycemic load for a typical serving. One tablespoon of honey has a GL of 7 while date syrup is around 5-8. This is because honey is sweeter, so less is required. The similar GL means both can be used moderately by diabetics.

In summary, date syrup has a lower GI, especially at the lower end of the range. But honey may have a slightly lower GL in small amounts. As with any sweetener, moderation is key for both.

Tips for Choosing a Low Glycemic Date Syrup

Not all date syrups are equal when it comes to glycemic impact. Here are some tips for choosing a brand with a lower GI:

Check the Glycemic Index. Look for products that display a certified GI value, ideally under 42.

Select Organic Brands. These use fewer chemical processing aids which can raise GI.

Avoid Added Ingredients. Added sugars or flavorings can increase the GI.

Choose Raw or Minimally Processed. More processing destroys fiber and raises GI.

Pick Syrup Over Paste. The viscosities differ, with syrup having a lower GI.

Read the Ingredient List. It should contain 100% dates with no fillers.

Buy from Reputable Sellers. Ask how they control quality and GI values.

Paying attention to these factors can help identify products with an exceptionally low, diabetes-friendly glycemic index. Pair with a balanced diet and active lifestyle for optimal blood sugar control.

Potential Downsides of Consuming Date Syrup

While date syrup has some beneficial qualities, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:

High in Calories and Sugar – Date syrup is dense in calories and contains about 60-70% sugar. Consuming it excessively can contribute to weight gain and other metabolic issues.

Contains Fructose – Some of the sugar in dates is fructose, which may promote fat accumulation in the liver. People with NAFLD/NASH should use caution.

Easy to Overeat – The rich, sweet taste makes it easy to consume too many calories from date syrup, even though the GI is low. Portion control is key.

May Spike Postprandial Triglycerides – There is some evidence that eating dates and syrup leads to higher post-meal triglyceride levels, increasing heart disease risk factors.

Can Contain Pesticide Residues – Conventionally grown dates may contain traces of pesticides. Opt for organic.

High Oxalate Content – Dates are naturally high in oxalates, which some people need to restrict for medical reasons like kidney stones.

So while date syrup can be part of a healthy diet for many, it is still high in sugar and calories. It is not a “free food” and portions should be controlled. Certain individuals may need to moderate intake.


In conclusion, is date syrup low glycemic? Research indicates that at a GI of 35-55, it falls within the low glycemic range and is preferable to regular sugar in terms of impact on blood glucose. Exact values vary between specific date syrup products due to differences in fiber content, ripening, and processing methods. While it has a low GI, date syrup has a medium glycemic load, so portions need to be controlled, especially for diabetics. Overall, date syrup can be a better option than regular added sugars, but should still be consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy and balanced diet. Look for high quality, minimally processed brands with a certified low GI for maximum benefits.

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