Honey and Diabetics: The Truth and Science Revealed

The truth about honey and diabetics

Honey is composed mainly of sugar and for a diabetic, this can be an example of foods he shouldn’t be eating. Many diabetics try to stay away from sweets as it can trigger a spike in their blood glucose level which can be dangerous to their well-being.

While a slight increase in blood sugar may not affect a healthy, normal person, it is a different story entirely for individuals with diabetes. To understand this further, check out the following information on honey and diabetics:

What is Diabetes?

In a healthy person, when food is converted to glucose or sugar, the pancreas in the body will release insulin to help open up the cells and let the glucose enter to use it as energy. Insulin is important in regulating the blood sugar levels to stabilize it and prevent hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.

If there is lack of insulin in the body, the individual can develop long-term to life-threatening health conditions. One of these conditions is diabetes or the condition where the individual has high blood glucose.

Symptoms vary from frequent urination, always hungry, or often thirsty. There are many types of diabetes and while there are several ways on how to treat it, regulating blood glucose is often the overall goal.

What is the Role of Honey in Diabetes?

Based on a 2009 study, consuming honey instead of table sugar for eight weeks decreased the body weight, cholesterol, and other lipids in diabetic individuals. However, the researchers also noted an increase in the hemoglobin A1C of the patients which is why most experts are still hesitant to blatantly prescribe honey to their patients.

Honey vs Sugar: A Comparison

If you are to compare side-by-side the nutritional content of sugar and honey, then this will be what it looks like per 100 grams of each substance:

  • Glycemic Index – sugar has at least 60 GI while honey only has 55
  • Calories – sugar provides 387 kilocalories while honey only has 300 kilocalories
  • Carbs – sugar has 99.1 grams while honey only has 82.12 grams
  • Water – sugar has negligible amount while honey has 17.10 grams
  • Nutrients – honey has significant amount of calcium (6 mg), vitamin C (0.5 mg), magnesium (2 mg), potassium (52 mg), and iron (0.42 mg)

Overall, honey shows superior health benefits than regular sugar. Furthermore, it is visible that honey has better nutrients and even contains water, which are basically insignificantly found in sugar.

While both showed a high GI and carbohydrates content, the impact of honey on blood sugar and insulin is slightly better as compared to regular or table sugar. In fact, a study, although small, suggested that healthy individuals who have consumed 75 grams of honey did not experience any elevations in both insulin and blood sugar for two hours.

Can Diabetics Consume Honey?

The answer still depends on how the diabetic is managing his condition. Most experts will cite “it depends on the situation” or “it’s a case to case basis” because like most nutrition advices, it is often not black and white.

For example, if the diabetic in question is overweight and his blood sugar or hemoglobin A1c is often mismanaged, then it is not advisable to consume honey. On the other hand, a diabetic who has a good height and weight ratio, low BMI, and good control of his blood sugar, then experts may consider honey as a sugar substitute.

Moderation will always be the key for diabetics who wish to use honey in their diet.

How Much Honey is Recommended for Diabetics?

The recommended daily intake depends on age, weight and lifestyle of a person. For an adult that weighs 170 pounds, it is okay to consume about three to five tablespoons in a day. For an active adult with the same specifications, an additional one to two tablespoons with snacks or in baked meals can be added. If the adult has a sedentary lifestyle, no additional honey is advised.

It is imperative to know that honey contains about 60 calories per 21 grams or a tablespoon. The total caloric requirement for sugar is at ten percent or less hence the total calories allowed for honey is only between 180 to 300 calories.

Studies have yet to find an advantage in using honey as a substitute for sugar in diabetic diets but the complex sugars present in honey may be slightly beneficial for diabetics. Also, all diabetics should know that not all honey can be consumed by them. It is best to avoid commercial honey and use raw or organic varieties instead.