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Is Honey Good for Diabetics? – Let’s Find Out

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Even if you have diabetes, you don’t need to say goodbye to your sweet tooth just yet! Honey is a great, versatile kitchen staple that everyone enjoys.

It can be added to your morning coffee or tea or used as a natural sweetener in various baked goods. However, there is some debate regarding the use of honey as a sweetener for those with diabetes.

People who have diabetes have abnormally high levels of glucose in their blood, which is sometimes referred to as high blood sugar. To manage their condition, people with diabetes must watch and adjust their carbohydrate, especially sugar to check their blood glucose levels.

Though many people with diabetes are advised to avoid sugar, it is essential to note that there are various types of sugar, and people with diabetes may wonder if some, such as honey, are better than others.

Honey can be consumed in moderation and may even help to reduce specific diabetes-related issues due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Rich in antioxidants, as well as possessing anti-microbial properties; honey in its rawest form is considered to be a super-food and can be utilised for treating various problems including diabetes.

Read more: Honey: Health Benefits, Nutritional value, Side effects, Uses

This article will examine whether using honey for diabetes is good, how it affects blood sugar, and whether it benefits people with diabetes. Continue reading to find out more.

Honey for Diabetes – The Impact on Blood Sugar Levels

Honey is a thick, golden-hued liquid produced primarily by honeybees, bumblebees, and wasps. It is composed of mostly water, and around 30-35% glucose and 40% fructose – both of which are types of sugar. Unlike refined white sugar, it also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Honey, similar to other sugars, is a high-carbohydrate source. As it is a carbohydrate, it is likely to impact blood sugar levels when consumed. However, one study has suggested that its effect may be less pronounced than other sugars.

In a study of adults with and without type 1 diabetes, researchers found that honey had a lower impact on blood glucose than sucrose. Furthermore, honey can boost C-peptide levels, a molecule produced and released by the pancreas along with insulin.

Having a stable C-peptide level indicates that the body is producing enough insulin. Therefore, some propose that honey can be beneficial for diabetes and may help to prevent it. Despite its blood sugar effect, one can take honey in moderation if their diabetes is well-controlled; moderation is the key.

Honey’s Glycemic Index

When choosing the best sweetener, there are several factors to consider. One crucial factor is the Glycemic Index (GI). GI measures how quickly the carbohydrates in the sweetener raise blood sugar levels. 

A GI score of less than 55 is classified as low, while a score higher than 70 is classified as high. Those with a score between 56 and 69 are considered moderate. Knowing the GI score for a sweetener can help you make an informed decision when selecting the best one for your needs.

Honey can have a glycemic index ranging from 35 to 75 on a scale of 100, depending on the source. It contains five different sugars, with fructose being the main one at 50% and glucose at 44%. 

Studies have found that due to the modest amounts of fructose, honey can help slow digestion and lower blood sugar levels, possibly even having anti-diabetic properties.

The HealthifyMe Note

Honey is a natural carbohydrate and sugar that can impact your blood sugar. As a natural sweetener, it could positively affect your glycemic index. It may cause insulin levels to rise while reducing blood sugar levels. The effect of honey is not as strong as sugar, but remember to consume it in moderation.

Honey with Cinnamon – A Healthy Pairing

The combination of honey and cinnamon is powerful, providing an array of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and more. In addition, honey and cinnamon have medicinal qualities, and when taken together, the health benefits are even more impressive!

Read more: Cinnamon: Health Benefits, Weight Loss, and Recipes

Research has found that combining cinnamon and honey can help improve type 2 diabetes. In addition, it provides more consistent glucose usage by the body due to the antioxidant flavonoids in cinnamon.

These flavonoids act similarly to insulin by moving glucose from the bloodstream into cells that need it for energy. Unlike many artificial sugar sources, cinnamon is a pure source of natural sugar that does not cause significant fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

Honey with Cinnamon – Ways to Use

Although it may be hard to come up with recipes that require both honey and cinnamon, you don’t have to cook with them to reap the benefits. There are many easy methods of adding honey and cinnamon to your diet. Some of these are outlined here.

A Honey and Cinnamon Paste

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to chewing gum, try making honey and cinnamon paste.

Simply mix cinnamon powder and honey until thick paste forms. Not only will this help prevent bad breath and give you an energy boost, but it also offers numerous health benefits.

Honey and Cinnamon Tea

A great way to start the day! All you need is cinnamon powder and your favourite honey flavour to start your day on the right foot!

Honey and Cinnamon Recipes

If you’re wanting to try something new, why not combine honey and cinnamon? It’s simple and delicious! You can use honey instead of brown sugar in cinnamon rolls, apple pies, and other baked goods.

For a unique breakfast, try banana and honey toast. Or, warm up with a cup of honey and cinnamon milk. You can even use the combination to spice up chicken dishes. With honey and cinnamon, the possibilities are endless!

Other Beneficial Ways to Use Honey for Diabetics

The following are some more ways to consume honey that are most suited for people with diabetes. These will not only satisfy your sweet needs but also help lower your blood sugar levels.

Turmeric, Honey, Basil, and Neem

This combination may taste bitter, but its health advantages can help you control your blood sugar levels.

Ingredients

  • Raw Honey: 1 tsp
  • Dried basil powder: 3 tbsp
  • Dried neem powder: 3 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 3 tbsp

Method

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the powders.
  • Place the mixture in a glass jar and keep it cool and dry (you can store this mixture for up to a week)
  • Take a tablespoon of this mixture in the morning, add a teaspoon of honey (for flavour), and consume it on an empty stomach.
  • Repeat this method for a month to achieve the desired outcomes.

Benefits of Eating Honey for Diabetes

Honey is well-known for its numerous health benefits, mainly when consumed in its pure and organic form. So, if you have diabetes and consume honey, you are reaping the following benefits.

Packed with Antioxidants

High-grade, unheated, and minimally processed honey contains a variety of bioactive plant chemicals and antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Darker varieties of honey have been shown to contain higher levels of antioxidants than lighter varieties. 

Antioxidants help neutralise reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body, which can lead to cell damage and may contribute to conditions like premature ageing, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, according to one study.

Powerhouse of Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients are plant components that help protect the plant from injury. According to one study, the phytonutrients in honey are responsible for its antioxidant qualities and antibacterial and antifungal properties.

It Helps Prevent and Treat Stomach Issues

People sometimes use honey to treat digestive difficulties, including diarrhoea. However, honey may have the potential as a treatment for Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which is the common cause of stomach ulcers.

It also contains helpful prebiotics, which feeds the friendly bacteria that live in the intestines, which are essential for digestion and overall health.

Soothe a Sore Throat and Cough

Honey is an old sore throat treatment that relieves pain and coughing. When a cold virus strikes, mix it into hot tea with lemon. According to a research evaluation, honey may be preferable to conventional forms of care for treating upper respiratory tract infections.

It Helps Regulate Blood Pressure

High blood pressure and type 2 diabetes can significantly raise your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Honey may aid in the reduction of blood pressure. It is because antioxidants help reduce blood pressure. Research also found that eating honey lowers blood pressure.

Conclusion

People with diabetes understand how difficult it is to live without sugar. Therefore, a bit of honey incorporated into their balanced diet could be beneficial. Compared to white sugar, honey has a lower glycemic effect. Hence, consuming it in moderation can be advantageous for those with diabetes.

If your diabetes is not well managed, it may be best to restrict your consumption of honey and other added sugars. Nevertheless, before including honey in your diet, consult your healthcare provider.

If you are not sure how to include them into your meals, you can always talk to a HealthifyMe nutritionist.

They will provide the best advice tailored to your needs. Furthermore, the Pro nutritionist and CGM can inform you if a particular food, such as honey, can assist you in managing your blood sugar levels.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is honey safe for diabetics?

A. Yes, honey is safe for people with diabetes. But, like with any sweetener, moderation is key. Honey has many health advantages, including antioxidants, which may lower a person’s glycemic index. As part of a balanced diet, you must carefully watch how much you consume.

Q. How much honey can a diabetic have a day?

A. People with type 2 diabetes can safely consume 5-25 grams of honey daily. However, despite its potential health benefits, those with diabetes should treat honey like any other added sugar.

Q. Does honey raise blood sugar?

A. The glycemic index measures the rate at which a carbohydrate elevates blood sugar levels. For example, honey has a GI value of 58, which implies that it raises blood sugar swiftly but not as quickly as sugar.

Q. Is honey low glycemic?

A. Honey, as a natural sweetener, has a complex structure, but when compared to sugar, it has a lower glycemic index of 58, which means it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels as quickly.

Q. Can diabetics have honey every day?

A. Yes, people with diabetes can consume honey daily. A daily intake upto 2 tablespoons of honey has health benefits. Improved wound healing, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties are possible.

Q. Does honey raise blood pressure?

A. No, honey may help to lower blood pressure. It is due to the antioxidants that help to lower blood pressure.

Q. Which is healthier, sugar or honey?

A. Honey has a lower GI value than sugar, which means it does not spike blood sugar levels as quickly. It’s also sweeter than sugar. Hence, you may need less of it, but it has slightly more calories per teaspoon, so You usually keep a strict check on portion amounts. It also contains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as calcium, potassium, vitamin C, zinc, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, which sugar lacks.

The Supporting Reference

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https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2394949/

2. Mamdouh Abdulrhman, Mohamed El Hefnawy, Rasha Ali, Iman Abdel Hamid, Ahmad Abou El-Goud, Doaa Refai, Effects of honey, sucrose and glucose on blood glucose and C-peptide in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 19, Issue 1,2013, Pages 15-19, ISSN 1744-3881

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744388112000667?via%3Dihub

3. 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.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22811614/

4. Hasanzade F, Toliat M, Emami SA, Emamimoghaadam Z. The Effect of Cinnamon on Glucose of Type II Diabetes Patients. J Tradit Complement Med. 2013 Jul;3(3):171-4. doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.114900. PMID: 24716174; PMCID: PMC3924990.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924990/

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6225430/

6. Ahmed S, Sulaiman SA, Baig AA, Ibrahim M, Liaqat S, Fatima S, Jabeen S, Shamim N, Othman NH. Honey as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Its Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018 Jan 18;2018:8367846. Doi: 10.1155/2018/8367846. PMID: 29492183; PMCID: PMC5822819.

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7. Abuelgasim H, Albury C, Lee J. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Evid Based Med. 2021 Apr;26(2):57-64. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336. Epub 2020 Aug 18. PMID: 32817011.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32817011/

8. Aluko, Esther & Olubobokun, Titilope & Atang, Dara & Nna, Victor. (2014). Honey’s Ability to Reduce Blood Pressure and Heart Rate in Healthy Male Subjects. Frontiers in Science. 4. 8-11. 10.5923/j.fs.20140401.0.
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