Is Honey Good for Diabetes Patients?

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

Last updated on December 27th, 2023

Honey is marketed as a healthier alternative to refined sugar. Many individuals also add honey to their tea or coffee or utilize it as a sweetener while baking. However, the real question arises: is honey good for diabetes patients? A short answer to this query is “YES”, but under some circumstances with restricted amounts. For diabetic patients, it is a must to manage and control their sugar and carb consumption. This does not imply avoiding sweets all in all. In moderate amounts, honey is not only safe, but it also exerts powerful anti-inflammatory properties. These may also lower the level of diabetes. But honey for diabetes patients has complications involved. To know it further, read our comprehensive blog: “Is honey good for diabetics?”

Defining Honey

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 these products and store them 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 winter. During winter, bees find difficulty in finding food.

Read More: Is Coconut Milk Good for Diabetics?

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 the exposure of a product to high heat. This process creates a longer shelf life for honey. Processed honey is a smooth form of honey. Although, filtration and pasteurizing processes eliminate a few of its antioxidants and nutrients.

Nutritional Facts of Honey

Raw honey, similar to white sugar, is a sweetener. It consists of good amount of carbs and calories. Honey is a form of sugar. hence, individuals must have it within limits. One tablespoon of honey (21 grams in weight) contains 63.8 calories, as per USDA. Whereas, 21 grams of gritty white sugar consists of 80 calories. This quantity of honey also consists of:

Nutrients Amount
potassium 11 mg
phosphorus 0.84 mg
water 3.59 g
calcium 1 mg
sodium 1 mg
sugar 17.2 g
vitamin C 0.1 mg
zinc 0.05 mg

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

One huge difference between refined white sugar and honey for diabetes patients is in their digestion. The body breaks down honey with the help of enzymes present in honey. However, sugar digestion needs enzymes from the body.

Another variation is associated with the GI. The 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 as per the WebMD website, and the GI of sugar is 60. But can a sugar patient eat honey? Keep reading as we answer your query below.


Honey for diabetes is a natural sweetener but not a magic food that can replace sugar. And it contains more calories and carbs per teaspoon in comparison to table sugar. As per the USDA, one tablespoon of raw honey contains 17.3 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.

Read More: Top 6 Dry Fruits For Diabetics.

Can Diabetics Eat Honey?

Now it’s time to answer the question: Is honey good for diabetes patients? Honey is a natural sugar and a carb-containing food product. Honey for diabetes patients is only fine in tiny amounts. Honey is more concentrated than sugar and contains heavy amounts of natural sugar. Therefore, honey and diabetes have a not-so-good relationship. It is believed honey is less harmful than refined sugar for diabetes patients. However, this isn’t true. Research done by the Mayo Clinic has proven substituting sugar with honey for diabetes patients does no good at all. So, can honey cause diabetes?

Comparing the glycemic indices of honey and sugar, there isn’t much difference. The glycemic index of honey is 58, according to the WebMD website. The sugar glycemic index is 60. So both are high glycemic foods, and their consumption will enhance the chances of blood sugar spikes. So honey is a big no for diabetes pateints. They may replace honey with some artificial sweeteners.

Can a diabetic consume honey?

In some conditions, diabetes patients may consume measured amounts of honey these include:
When facing hypoglycemia: In this condition, your sugar level will drop below normal. Here, you need glucose in your body. So you can also include honey as one such source.

When you have cleared the glucose tolerance test (GTT) and have controlled A1c and blood sugar levels. You may have honey occasionally in amounts specified by the dietician.

Read More: Is Carrot Good For Diabetes?

Benefits of Honey for Diabetes Patients

Benefits of Honey for Diabetes Patients

Although honey for diabetes patients does more harm than good, diabetes patients with controlled sugar levels can enjoy the following benefits of honey. Do note that these benefits of honey suitable for diabetics with controlled sugar levels and when honey is consumed in well-measured amounts.

Hypoglycemic Effect

In a few studies by NIH (National Institute of Health), the effect of honey and sugar was investigated on blood sugars. It was observed that a solution with 75 grams of honey increased the glucose and insulin levels in individuals with and without T2DM within half an hour. One similar solution comprising dextrose elevated the glucose levels significantly more.

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

Better diabetes assessments

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

  • Honey reduces 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 to know the amount of insulin to secrete. Also, C-peptide plays a key role in keeping glucose levels at a healthy limit.
  • Also, honey amplified the 2-hour postprandial C-peptide levels. It shows the quantity of peptides after an individual consumes them.

Impact on chronic blood sugar levels

An eight-week study by NIH observed that intake of honey did not elevate 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’s cells. When sugar gets into 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 sugar. Due to this, the researchers proposed a “careful intake” of honey for diabetic patients.

Honey is Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial

Honey has a beneficial role in wound healing. Doctors may use honey for diabetes patients with controlled blood sugar and A1c to heal their wounds.

In another study, honey may aid in fighting the inflammatory processes taking place with:

  • diabetes
  • atherosclerosis
  • heart problems.

All of these are characteristics of any metabolic syndrome.


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.

Read More: Are Dates Good for People With Diabetes?

Swapping Sugar With Honey for Diabetics

Honey might be a healthier option than refined sugars. Types of refined sugars of all types, including cane sugar, white sugar, turbinado, as well as powdered sugar. Yet, honey and diabetes don’t share a close relationship. Therefore, diabetic patients must consume honey in utter moderation. This is because honey is more concentrated than sugar and contains sugar in hefty amounts. So, excess honey consumption will result in increased glucose levels. Honey is ok for diabetics who have cleared GTT and have controlled A1c and sugar levels.

There is research done by the Mayo Clinic that says swapping honey for sugar brings no difference at all. Diabetic patients can use a mix of artificial and natural sweeteners of any type occasionally.


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

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.

Read More: Is Banana Good For Diabetes Patients

Which honey is best for diabetics?

Which honey is best for diabetics?

Honey can increase blood sugar for sure. But if eaten in measured amounts, it can be included in your diet occasionally. So the answer to whether can honey increase blood sugar is yes, but more if you eat adulterated honey, which has added sugar. Only natural pure honey is good for sugar patients. So here are some top brands, according to Indian Express, that you can select if you intend to eat pure honey:

  • Nature’s Nectar Natural Honey
  • Saffola Honey Active
  • Apis Himalaya Honey
  • INDIGENOUS HONEY Raw Organic Honey
  • DADEV Unprocessed Raw Honey
  • Himalayan Natives Multifloral Raw Honey
  • Baidyanath Honey


Honey is a natural sweetener. However, just like any form of sweetener, moderation is important. Discuss with a doctor before including honey in one’s diet. Honey is not appropriate for every person. However, within limits, honey is ok with diabetes patients with controlled blood sugar can eat some amount of honey. If a person consumes honey, ensure that it’s organic, raw, or pure honey free of any added sugars.

Read More: Is Apple Good for Diabetes Patients?


FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

Does honey increase blood sugar level?

Yes, honey does increase blood sugar levels. This is because honey has a high sugar content. In just one tablespoon spoon of honey (21 grams), there are 17.2 grams of sugar as per USDA. Moreover, honey is a more concentrated food than sugar, so even a small amount will impact highly on your blood sugar. So, diabetes patients should avoid honey and switch to artificial sweeteners.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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