Dates... ideal food or sugar overload?

I happened to spot this article below in the Mail On Sunday yesterday. It caught my attention in large part because I eat these types of bars and make my own, and I have no problem with them. In addition, my healthy whole food business Wholeplus relies heavily on dates as a source of sweetness and main ingredient in the 'Toppers' product.

Therefore I felt the need to address the issue and provide balance.

The nutritionalist commenting in the article makes largely the same criticism against every single product shown. It's all comes down to the dates.

Her comments such as: "this is massively high in sugar, not even toffee has that much" frustrate me as it shows no distinction between TYPES of sugar.

She does however have some valid points in relation to refined sugars sneakily covered up under different names such as 'organic raw cane sugar' and also pointing out that isolated proteins are not as beneficial as a whole food source. These points I totally agree with but here i'm focussing more specifically on the dates.

Something that is not highlighted at all in this article yet I think it very important is the psychological aspect of these bars. For me a wholefood date based 'chocolate bar' is leaps and bounds ahead of your regular chocolate bar. Yes I agree they're not low in calories and shouldn't be eaten in large quantities, but as a treat in place of refined chocolate or candy… To me they are the perfect solution.

So many people are becoming so much more aware of the major health issues surrounding refined sugary products and are looking for better yet tasty alternatives, so how is an article like this helping? People are so confused already when it comes to food choices, and I can almost hear people throwing there arms up in despair and thinking:

'Well now I haven't a clue what I'm supposed to do, I may as well just carry on eating chocolate bars after all'.

One downside I do sometimes see and one I help clients get a clearer persecutive on when they transition to wholefood treats is that there is the risk of having have the misguided conception that 'they are healthy so I can eat as many as I want!' Whilst they are indeed a much healthier alternative to refined chocolate or sweets, they still shouldn't eaten in excess. They should be the equivalent treat. Treat them as such as you will not go far wrong. In my experience bars like this are often more satiating anyway- win win!

Focus on the whole foods. Dates ARE whole foods!

This is a great 90 second video from Nutrition Facts to have a little listen to...

As One green Planet also cites this interesting study:

"One cup of dates has around 29 mg of fructose and a high glycemic index, which can increase blood sugar levels significantly. So, why do many people who choose to eliminate excess sugars from their lifestyle still consume dates? Well, it seems that dates are naturally rich in nutrition despite being rich in fructose, so there’s a trade-off. Some even consider dates the most ideal food.

Dates are whole foods, but, by weight, they are 80 percent pure sugar. To understand date sugar from the whole food, Israeli scientists took a bunch of people, stuffed them full of dates for a month and measured what happened: they determined that their subjects have no adverse effects on blood sugar or weight, and they had beneficial improvements in triglycerides and antioxidant stress levels."

So in summary, whilst not sugar-free, in my opinion dates can provide the optimum choice in assisting your efforts to reduce your sugar intake. What you really want to focus on is reducing (or omitting) artificial and refined sugars from your diet, and not worry about the natural sugars in whole dates.

I'd love to hear your own thoughts. Do you buy these bars? Do you make your own? How do you feel about the sugar in these types of products in relation to refined sweet treats?

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