In today’s hectic world, people struggle to find the time to eat healthily. So instead, they often opt for processed and packaged foods high in artificial sugar, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes, arterial clots, and high levels of inflammation in the body.
The World Health Organization has reported that about 420 million people worldwide have diabetes. The condition has various forms, including type-1, type-2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes results from the immune system attacking insulin-producing cells, while type 2 is primarily a result of poor lifestyle choices and environmental factors. Fortunately, changes in one’s lifestyle can decrease the likelihood of having diabetes. Additionally, some foods also play a beneficial role.
Many people think that having something sweet can cause a significant increase in blood sugar levels. However, the impact of honey on blood sugar levels is debatable.
Honey is high in carbohydrates, minerals, potassium and sodium, making it a superfood. Honey has been used as a folk medicine for centuries. But is honey a good option for people with diabetes? To answer this question, we must look closely at research and data.
What Exactly Is Honey?
Bees produce honey by extracting nectar from flowers. Nectar comprises 80% carbohydrates, mostly from sucrose, a natural sugar, and 20% water. The bees then remove the water from the nectar to create honey, a thick, golden-brown liquid.
Honey was renowned in antiquity for its sweetness, healing properties, and more.
There are two types of honey: raw honey and processed honey. Raw honey is a powerful immune booster and even has anti-cancer properties. It is also a hub of nutrition and is suitable for our health. However, pasteurised honey loses essential nutrients due to high heat sterilisation.
Nutritional Value of Honey
Before deciding whether or not to consume honey and in what quantity, let us examine its nutritional value. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 100-gram portion of honey contains the following nutrients:
- Energy: 304 kCal
- Protein: 0.3 g
- Carbohydrate: 84.3 g
- Glucose: 35.8 g
- Fructose: 40.9 g
- Calcium: 6 mg
- Iron: 0.42 mg
- Magnesium: 2 mg
- Potassium: 52 mg
- Phosphorus: 4 mg
- Sodium: 4 mg
- Copper: 0.036 mg
- Zinc: 0.22 mg
- Folate: 2 µg
- Fluoride: 7 µg
Glycemic Index of Honey
Due to its glycemic index of 58, honey can be consumed in moderation as it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as sugar does.
In addition, it also contains other nutrients with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is essential to be mindful of the moderate glycemic index, as consuming too much honey can spike blood sugar levels. It is, therefore, advisable to consult with a nutritionist or dietician to determine the right amount of honey to consume.
How Does Honey Affect Blood Sugar?
Honey can affect blood sugar levels due to its glycemic index rating of 58, which is considered moderate. Those with type 2 diabetes can detect the glycemic impact of honey by measuring their blood sugar levels at regular intervals after ingesting it.
Studies indicate that blood glucose levels can spike within the first hour after consuming honey but start to drop after a few hours.
To regulate blood sugar, type 2 diabetics must monitor their carbohydrate and sugar intake. However, with proper supervision, consuming a small amount of honey can be safe.
Is Honey Good For Diabetes?
Although honey has beneficial nutrients it can still cause blood sugar levels to rise. Its antioxidant properties can benefit those with diabetes, but monitoring glucose levels and consulting with doctors regarding the appropriate amount is essential.
If your blood sugar levels spike with a small amount of carbohydrates and sugar, it is best to avoid honey. Abnormal blood sugar levels can lead to serious health issues such as vision loss and kidney failure.
The impact of honey consumption on blood sugar levels also depends on how one consumes it. One can reduce the effect of eating honey on blood sugar levels by consuming it differently.
For instance, blending it with nut butter is an option, as nuts contain a combination of fibre, proteins, and fat. As a result, it slows down digestion compared to sugar. Eating honey with a green salad is another option, as salads have little to no influence on blood sugar.
The HealthifyMe Note
The evidence on the impact of honey on diabetes is inconclusive. Some research shows that moderate amounts of honey may help regulate blood sugar, while other studies find no significant difference between it and other types of sugar. Thus, honey should still be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Those with diabetes should consult their healthcare provider before altering their diet.
Beneficial Ways to Use Honey for Diabetics
Some of the ways how type 2 diabetic person can use honey are as follows:
Honey and Cinnamon
Honey and cinnamon make an excellent combination, providing plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and more to benefit your health. Not only do they satisfy your tastebuds, but these two ingredients also possess medicinal qualities that are even more effective when taken together!
A popular and healthy way to enjoy their health benefits is to make honey and cinnamon tea, as the cinnamon provides a natural source of sugar that won’t cause significant changes in your blood sugar levels. This tea is just as refreshing as regular tea and can work wonders for your health.
Turmeric, Honey, Basil, and Neem
Mixing honey and herbs like turmeric and neem can give you a beneficial outcome in many ailments, including high blood sugar levels.
Turmeric is an excellent natural antibiotic, and neem has numerous compounds like flavonoids, anti-viral compounds, triterpenoids, and glycosides which help control blood sugar levels.
One can even use this mixture to address hypertension, obesity, and hyperlipidemia. Furthermore, consuming this blend daily can bring about several health benefits, like better metabolism and assistance with weight loss.
Raw Honey Benefits for Health
Honey has numerous benefits and can be a great add-on to the diet. Some of the health benefits of consuming honey are as follows:
Benefits for People with Diabetes
People with diabetes may reap certain benefits from consuming recommended amounts (as per the advice of a certified Nutritionists) of raw organic unpasteurized.
Honey has a lower glycemic index (GI) than table sugar and other sweeteners. GI measure assesses how quickly a food will cause a rise in blood sugar levels, with lower GI foods resulting in a slower rise.
Some studies indicate that honey might lead to a decline in haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, which assesses long-term blood sugar control. However, the current research is limited to animals, and more research is required to strengthen the claim.
Honey is rich in antioxidants which can reduce inflammation and promote general health.
Despite these potential advantages, it is essential to note that people with diabetes should consume honey in moderation as it still contains natural sugars, and excessive consumption can cause an increase in blood sugar levels.
Helps Manage Weight
The consumption of honey with lukewarm water can aid weight loss and help maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Honey can suppress appetite, which helps prevent overeating and weight gain. An abnormal BMI can result in various diseases, so keeping it within a healthy range is essential.
Research also shows that healthy weight management and weight loss can significantly reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Read More: Is Honey Good For Weight Loss?
Strengthening Immune System
Honey is known for improving the immune system due to its antioxidant content. In addition, it can help fight bacterial and fungal infections and prevent sore throats. Also, honey is a natural antiseptic that can help heal wounds, burns, bruises, and cuts quickly.
It is also nourishing and moisturising, making it great for the skin. Furthermore, honey contains protective phytonutrients that positively affect the body.
Improves Sleep Quality
Getting a good night’s sleep is necessary for your body to perform optimally. Taking some honey before bedtime can help you achieve this and can also be beneficial in cases of insomnia.
Helps Treat Digestive Issues
Honey renders itself useful for maintaining good digestive health and overall wellness due to its prebiotic content and nourishing good bacteria in the intestine. Additionally, one can use it to treat stomach infections such as diarrhoea.
Benefits Brains Health
The polyphenols in honey can reduce inflammation in the part of the brain responsible for memory and prevent metabolic stress, aiding in better concentration. Additionally, honey’s calming and soothing effects can positively impact one’s overall brain health in the long term.
Applying honey and olive oil together can assist in preventing and controlling eczema in children. In addition, this mixture can relieve the itching and discomfort caused by eczema.
Helps Combat Gum Issues
Regular honey consumption can help with gum diseases such as gingivitis, bleeding, and plaques. Additionally, it can be a source of relief from pain.
Soothes Sore Throat and Cough
Studies have shown that honey may be a better remedy for treating upper respiratory tract infections than other options. It can help prevent sinus attacks by soothing the throat, reducing soreness, and easing coughing.
Honey for Diabetes – The Potential Risk
Besides its prebiotics and other nutrients, honey carries some risks for people with diabetes, especially if you take insulin.
Consuming honey in any form may cause your blood glucose levels to spike, which can be dangerous for your health. Therefore, those with diabetes or prediabetes should check their glucose levels before adding honey to their diet. Many other foods can supply antioxidants without increasing sugar levels.
The quality of the honey you consume is crucial in determining the risk level. People with diabetes should avoid processed honey, as it is likely to lack essential nutrients and may contain added sugar.
Studies have indicated that diabetic patients should consume honey in moderation to reduce their risk of complications.
Diabetes is a serious public health concern, with various symptoms resulting from high blood glucose levels. It can increase the likelihood of long-term health problems.
Taking specific dietary measures, engaging in physical activity, and making other lifestyle modifications can help manage blood sugar levels.
Honey has a variety of health benefits, and moderate consumption can have a positive effect on long-term health. In addition, research has suggested that honey can help slow digestion and reduce blood sugar levels due to its fructose content and may even have anti-diabetic properties.
Being sweet and full of nutrients, honey can benefit overall health in the long term if consumed mindfully and within recommended limits. If you want guidance on incorporating honey into your diet, you can consult a HealthifyMe nutritionist.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How much honey can a person with diabetes have in a day?
A. It is best to limit honey intake to the greatest extent, as it is an added sugar. The average person can consume up to 25 grams of raw honey every day. Still, if you have diabetes and are taking insulin, you must consult a doctor before incorporating honey into your diet.
Q. Does Honey raise blood sugar?
A. Honey can affect blood sugar levels due to its glycemic index rating of 58, which is considered moderate. However, if your blood sugar levels spike with a small amount of carbohydrates and sugar, it is best to avoid honey. Furthermore, the impact of honey consumption on blood sugar levels also depends on how one consumes it. For instance, blending it with nut butter is an option, as nuts contain a combination of fibre, proteins, and fat. As a result, it slows down digestion compared to sugar. Eating honey with a green salad is another option, as salads have little to no influence on blood sugar.
Q. Can type 2 diabetics have honey?
A. Under the guidance of experts, a diabetic person may include a limited quantity of honey in their diet. However, while the antioxidants present in honey may be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes, it is suggested to seek out alternatives for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Q. Can honey spike my insulin?
A. Honey can raise insulin levels in the bloodstream of a diabetic person, which can be counter-productive and lead to several health issues associated with diabetes, such as vision loss and kidney damage. To ensure honey does not raise insulin levels, limit consumption to a teaspooon and combine it with other ingredients that can slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Q. Is a spoonful of honey a day good for you?
A. A spoonful of honey can be beneficial for the average healthy person, as it has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties. Instead of adding it as a sweetener on top of sugar, it is better to use honey as an alternative. When taken in moderation, honey can have a positive effect on health. Furthermore, a mixture of honey, apple cider vinegar and water can help with weight loss.
The Research Sources
1. World Health Organisation
2. U S Department of Agriculture
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4. Feldman, A.L., Griffin, S.J., Ahern, A.L. et al. Impact of weight maintenance and loss on diabetes risk and burden: a population-based study in 33,184 participants. BMC Public Health 17, 170 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4081-6
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7. Erejuwa OO, Sulaiman SA, Wahab MS. Honey–a novel antidiabetic agent. Int J Biol Sci. 2012;8(6):913-34. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.3697. Epub 2012 Jul 7. PMID: 22811614; PMCID: PMC3399220.