Is Honey Good for People With Diabetes?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohammad Suleman Hussain, M.B.B.S March 30, 2022

Many individuals add honey to their tea or coffee or utilize it as a sweetener while baking. However, the question arises, is honey good for diabetics? A short answer to this query is “YES”, but under some circumstances. Diabetic patients must manage and control their sugar and carbs consumption. This does not imply avoiding sweets all in all. In moderate amounts, honey is not only safe, however, exerts powerful anti-inflammatory properties. These may also lower the risk of diabetes complications. Read this blog to know “Is honey good for diabetics?”

Honey and Diabetes

Honey production occurs from honeybees, wasps, or bumblebees. It is thick and golden in colour liquid. It is available from the nectar within flowers. Bees collect the honey products and store it in their stomachs after reaching the hive.

Nectar comes from water, sucrose (sugar), and other materials. It contains 80% carbs and 20% water. Bees yield honey by consuming and vomiting back the nectar repeatedly. This method gets rid of the water. Then, bees store honey in honeycombs and use it as an energy source during winters. During winters, people find difficulty in finding food.

Is Honey Good for Diabetics?

Nutritional Facts of Honey

Raw honey similarly as white sugar, is a sweetener. It consists of carbs and calories. Honey is a form of sugar; hence individuals must have it in limits.

One tablespoon of honey (21 grams in weight) contains 60 calories. Whereas, 21 grams of gritty white sugar consists of 80 calories. This quantity of honey also consists of:

  • 11 mg potassium
  • 1 mg phosphorus
  • 3.59 g water
  • 1 mg calcium
  • 1 mg sodium
  • 17.25 g sugar
  • 1 mg vitamin C
  • 0.05 mg zinc

Also, honey comprises certain B vitamins. Sugar comprises nearly no other nutrients.

One huge variation between honey and white sugar is digestion. The body breaks down honey with the help of enzymes present in honey. Also, sugar digestion needs enzymes from the body.

Another variation associates with the GI. Glycemic index evaluates the extent to which a specific carb spikes the glucose levels. Foods containing high GI values raise the levels rapidly. But it comprises very little nutritional value. Honey has a GI value of 58, and GI of sugar is 60.

Also Read: Best blood sugar testing machine in India

Summary

Honey is a natural sweetener. And, it contains more calories and carbs per teaspoon in comparison to table sugar. As per the USDA, one tablespoon of raw honey contains 17 grams of carbs and 60 calories. Honey comprises vital vitamins and minerals. These are vitamin C, iron, potassium, folate, calcium, and magnesium. Additionally, it works as an antioxidant, i.e., helps in preventing and delaying cell damage.

Swapping Sugar With Honey for Diabetics

Honey might be a healthy option for refined sugars. These may include cane sugar, white sugar, turbinado, as well as powdered sugar. Yet, individuals must consume it in moderation. It, too, may result in increased glucose levels. That too, when an individual uses honey with another form of sugar. Diabetic patients must have sweeteners of any type occasionally. As recurrent blood glucose spikes may result in a rapid progression of diabetes.

Summary

It is good to have honey in moderation. Discuss with a healthcare provider prior to its use as an added sweetener. If diabetes is regulated and a person wished to include honey to his or her diet, opt for pure, organic, or raw form of honey. These forms are safer for diabetic patients as natural honey is free of any added sugar.

Honey in Two Forms: Raw or Processed

Raw honey is an unfiltered form of honey. The extraction of this form occurs from a beehive and impurities are removed by straining.

Processed honey, instead, undergoes filtration. Also, pasteurization is done to damage yeast. Pasteurization is exposure of a product to high heat. This process generates a longer shelf life. Processed honey is a smooth form of honey. Yet, filtration and pasteurizing processes eliminates few of its antioxidants and nutrients.

Also Read: Normal blood sugar level

Effect of Honey on Blood Sugars Levels

Honey is a natural sugar and a carb-containing food product. It is only natural for honey to have an impact on blood sugars in certain way. In contrast to table sugar, honey seems to exert a smaller effect on glucose levels.

Research

Numerous studies have seen that consuming honey can:

  • enhance insulin levels and,
  • reduce the levels of blood glucose.

Likely hypoglycemic effect

In few studies, the effect of honey and sugar were investigated on the blood sugars. It was observed that solution with 75 grams of honey increased the glucose and insulin levels in individuals with and without T2DM within half an hour. One alike solution comprising dextrose elevated the glucose levels significantly more.

Within two hours, glucose levels dropped down and remained low in the honey group than the dextrose group. It was proposed that honey might enhance the levels of insulin.

Better diabetes assessments

The study also established an association between honey and blood sugars in diabetic people. The researchers found that honey exerted the following effects:

  • Honey reduced the levels of fasting serum glucose. This parameter is measured by a doctor after fasting a person for 8 hours.
  • Honey raised the fasting C-peptide levels. It aids the pancreas know the amount of insulin to secrete. Also, C-peptide plays a key role in keeping the glucose levels in a healthy limit.
  • Also, honey amplified the 2-hour postprandial C-peptide levels. It shows the quantity of peptide after an individual consumes them.

Impact on the chronic blood sugar levels

An eight-week study observed that intake of honey did not elevate the fasting glucose levels. People who had honey also lost weight and their cholesterol levels were also low. In the study, people’s haemoglobin was also checked. Haemoglobin is a protein responsible for transferring oxygen to the body cells. When sugar gets in the cells, it combines with haemoglobin. By evaluating the amount of haemoglobin combined with glucose, a physician may estimate the average sugar levels over previous months.

An individual having more HbA1C is at a higher risk of diabetes. Also, he or she is expected to be getting poor blood sugar management. Also, it was noted in the studies that people belonging to the honey group had elevated HbA1c. This suggested a chronic rise in blood sugars. Due to this, the researchers proposed a “careful intake” of honey for diabetic patients.

Also Read: Can Diabetics Eat Potatoes?

Honey as an Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial 

Honey has a beneficial role in wound healing. In type 2 diabetic patients, doctors may use honey to:

  • lessen the risk of diabetes complications
  • reduce their glucose levels
  • heal wounds.

In another study, honey may aid to fight the inflammatory processes taking place with:

  • diabetes
  • atherosclerosis
  • heart problems.

All of these are characteristics of any metabolic syndrome.

Summary

There is a potential link between honey and a lower GI. Honey exerts a reduced glycemic effect. Also, it elevates the levels of C-peptide. Its release occurs in the blood when a person’s body produces insulin. A standard level of C-peptide implies that a person is producing adequate insulin.

Risks of Having Honey For People With Diabetes

Remember that honey is sweeter as compared to sugar. If a person swaps honey for sugar, he or she would require only a little. Honey has an impact on blood sugar. Better is to avoid it and other sweeteners until attaining proper glucose control.

Also, pregnant females and individuals with poor immunity must not have raw honey. As it does not need pasteurization procedures. People buy processed honey from markets, but remember it might comprise sugar or syrup. The additional sweetener may have an impact on the blood sugars differently.

Also Read: Can Diabetics Eat Dates?

Benefits of Having Honey in Diabetes

One advantage of having honey is that it may increase insulin levels and control blood glucose levels. Swapping sugar with honey might be favourable. Honey is a good source of antioxidants and exerts strong anti-inflammatory properties.

A diet containing antioxidants help in glucose metabolism. Also, the anti-inflammatory activities of honey lower down diabetes complications. Inflammation might cause insulin resistance. And, because of this, a person’s body fails to react properly to insulin.

Summary

Honey is a natural sweetener. It might exert a positive effect on a person’s glycemic index. However, just like any form of sweetener, moderation is important. Discuss with a doctor before including honey to one’s diet. Honey is not appropriate for every person. However, in limits diabetics can eat honey. If a person consumes honey, ensure that it’s organic, raw, or pure honey free of any added sugars.

FAQs:

Can people with diabetes drink honey lemon water?

The combination exerts a hypoglycemic effect. This is useful for mitigating the conditions of diabetes. Honey and lemon juice for people with diabetes is hence, a great remedy one must definitely try.

Is a spoonful of honey daily good for me?

Intake of 2 tablespoons of honey daily delivers health benefits. These may include improved wound healing, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory activities. A spoonful of honey (roughly 21 grams) contains- energy: 64 kcal and fructose: 8.6 grams.

Does honey result in insulin resistance?

In diabetics, honey was found to improve the amounts of insulin more than sucrose. Another study noted that diabetes patients who had honey, their insulin resistance was lower.

What is the recommended amount of honey for a diabetic?

About 5-25 grams of honey can be safe for people with type 2 diabetes.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/honey-and-diabetes
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317662#what-is-honey
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes/faq-20058487

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 

Disclaimer

The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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