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Is This One Healthy Food Secretly Spiking Your Blood Sugar? An Expert Explains

Olivia Giacomo
mbg Social Media Associate By Olivia Giacomo
mbg Social Media Associate
Olivia Giacomo is mbg's Social Media Associate. A recent graduate from Georgetown University, she has previously written for LLM Law Review.
Is This One Healthy Food Secretly Spiking Your Blood Sugar?
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Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is key to supporting overall health, including your mood and energy. Although, keeping those levels balanced is no simple task: You may be familiar with some of the most common glucose-spiking foods—white bread, white potatoes, pasta, and more—but some sneakier ingredients can also unexpectedly have the same effect. Biochemist Jessie Inchauspe, author of Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar, clued us in to a few of these on the mindbodygreen podcast. One of the most surprising? Dates.

Below, find out why this common natural sweetener might not support your blood sugar, as well as how to enjoy it without a large glucose spike.

Why dates can cause blood sugar spikes.

The reason why dates have such a profound impact on blood sugar is because they are dried fruits: "As soon as you denature a piece of fruit—whether you concentrate it to put in yogurt, you juice it to make an orange juice, or you dry it and use it for its sweetness—you're creating a big glucose spike in your body," Inchauspe explains. "Your body does not know the difference between sugar coming from fruit or sugar coming from a can of [soda]. It's all processed the same."

Now, one or two dates might not have a profound impact, but the issue arises when a product contains a high concentration of dates. Inchauspe particularly highlights all-natural snack bars, as these are often loaded with dates to achieve texture and flavor appeal. "They might say all-natural or no sugar added, but then you look at the label and it's just 10 dates and some walnuts," she says, which can spike your blood sugar all the same.

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While dates can cause glucose spikes, the solution is not to avoid them: "I really don't believe in restricting at all. I think that it can be really damaging," Inchauspe explains. Rather, Inchauspe shares a simple way to mitigate their effects on blood sugar.

First up? "Put clothing on your carbs. Any time you eat something starchy or sweet, if you add protein, fat, or fiber—which I call clothing—you can reduce the glucose spike that that starchy or sweet food would create."

That's why she views date-loaded snack bars as problematic, as many of them contain a majority of dates with little fiber or protein. In this case, you might want to combine them with almond butter or blueberries to help balance the glucose curve. Might we suggest a colorful snack plate?

The takeaway.

Dates are a common ingredient in many healthy snacks, but according to Inchauspe, they can greatly affect your blood sugar levels. Fortunately, you can mitigate spikes by enjoying them with protein, fat, or fiber. And if you're curious about other hacks to balance blood sugar, Inchauspe has you covered.

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