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, 23 (2), 115-8

The Unexpected Truth About Dates and Hypoglycemia


The Unexpected Truth About Dates and Hypoglycemia

Mohammed I Yasawy. J Family Community Med.


Background: Dates are a concentrated source of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates (CHOs), which are necessary for the maintenance of optimum health. Most of the CHOs in dates come from sugars including glucose and fructose. Dates are commonly consumed in Saudi Arabia, particularly at the time of breaking the fast to provide instant energy and maintain blood sugar level. However, dates may cause hypoglycemia in a rare condition named as heredity fructose intolerance (HFI), and a few families have been to see us with a history of that nature. This is to report the preliminary results of an on-going study of a group of patients who get symptoms of hypoglycemia following the ingestion of dates and have suffered for years without an accurate diagnosis.

Methodology: This report is based on three patients, from the same family, living in a date growing region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The patients had been to several medical centers without getting any definite answers or diagnosis until they were referred to the Gastroenterology Clinic of King Fahd Hospital of the University, Al-Khobar, KSA. The data were obtained by careful history and laboratory investigations, and a final diagnosis of HFI made on fructose intolerance test (FIT).

Results: The patients reported that they had avoided eating dates because of various symptoms, such as bloating, nausea, and even hypoglycemia when larger amounts were consumed. Their other symptoms included sleepiness, sweating, and shivering. After full examinations and necessary laboratory tests based on the above symptoms, FIT was performed and the patients were diagnosed with HFI. They were referred to a dietitian who advised a fructose-free diet. They felt well and were free of symptoms.

Conclusion: HFI may remain undiagnosed until adulthood and may lead to disastrous complications and even death. The diagnosis can only be suspected after a careful dietary history is taken supported by FIT. This can prevent serious complications. Restricting dietary fructose may give relief from symptoms in a high proportion of patients with this disorder.

Keywords: Dates; heredity fructose intolerance; hypoglycemia.

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