May 25, 2022

Is Honey Good for Diabetes?

Is honey good for people living with diabetes? Honey is good in moderation and is shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.


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Everyone with diabetes knows they have to watch their carbohydrate intake. Of course, white sugar and other refined carbs have minimal nutritional benefits – but that’s not the case for every source of carbohydrates. One natural sweetener that’s gained popularity recently is honey, which supporters claim is a healthier way to add a sweet taste to foods and beverages. 

 Are you asking yourself,  “Can diabetics eat honey?”  While honey is a source of carbohydrates, the truth is more complicated than you might think. Keep reading to learn more about honey and diabetes. 

Know the Basics About Honey 

Honey is a thick, sweet liquid with a golden hue. Various insects produce honey – most famously honey bees, but also wasps and bumblebees. They make this substance by collecting nectar from flowers and taking it back to their hives. There, they repeatedly consume and regurgitate the nectar, removing the water within this substance in the process. 

 Bees store their honey in honeycombs and use it as a source of energy during the lean winter months. Fittingly, a teaspoon of honey has a bit more carbs and calories than a teaspoon of table sugar. You can expect to find 60 calories and 17 grams of carbs in the average tablespoon of honey. 

 Two categories of honey are available for purchase: raw and processed honey. Raw (or unfiltered) honey is only strained to get rid of impurities before it is put on store shelves. Meanwhile, processed honey is filtered and pasteurized, making it smoother than raw honey. However, this process also eliminates some of the nutrients and antioxidants honey contains. 

Does Honey Raise Blood Sugar? 

It should be no surprise to hear that honey can increase your blood glucose levels. However, it may affect blood sugar less than table sugar, despite its higher carb content. 

 In 2004, a study looked at the effects of sweeteners on people with type 1 diabetes and people who did not have this disease. Among test subjects with diabetes, honey caused blood sugar levels to rise half an hour after consumption. Their blood sugar levels eventually decreased and stabilized at a lower level for the next two hours or so. 

How Honey Affects Your Blood Sugar 

 Further research on honey and diabetic blood sugar still needs to be done. However, honey could cause an increase in insulin, making it easier to control blood glucose. Table sugar is not believed to have a similar effect, potentially making honey a more health-conscious sweetener for people with diabetes. 

Honey and Your Glycemic Index 

The experiment discussed above isn’t the only time researchers have looked into honey’s effects on people with diabetes. Another study looked at 50 people with type 1 diabetes and 30 people without diabetes. Honey had a lower glycemic effect on each test subject compared to sugar. 

 As if that wasn’t enough, researchers found honey to increase participants’ C-peptide levels. C-peptide is a substance released into the bloodstream during insulin production. While this doesn’t necessarily mean honey can help prevent or treat diabetes, the possibility is certainly intriguing. 

The Hidden Health Benefits of Honey 

The health benefits associated with honey in moderation go beyond its potential effects on blood sugar. This substance is packed with antioxidants, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. That’s important because antioxidants can make it easier for you to metabolize sugar. Meanwhile, the anti-inflammatory properties of honey could help cut down on your diabetes complications. 

 To enjoy honey’s health benefits, you’ll need to consume it in moderation. Honey is considerably sweeter than sugar, so you’ll only need a little bit when using it as a substitute sweetener. If you decide to add honey to your diabetes diet, focus on raw natural honey due to its extra nutrients and lack of added sugar. (Just remember: people with immune system problems and pregnant women should not eat raw honey since it is unpasteurized.) 

Make Diabetes Management Sweeter With US MED 

People with diabetes should not consume any sweetener indiscriminately – honey included. However, the health benefits of honey could make it a better option than table sugar in moderation. 

 Would you like to learn more about satisfying your sweet tooth while keeping your diabetes in check? Take a look at US MED’s blog – we’ve got information on foods that can help you control your blood sugar, dishes that trigger blood sugar spikes, and building a diabetes diet. You can also find your new favorite dessert in our collection of diabetes-friendly recipes. Along with that, take a look at our online shop for the diabetes management supplies you need!

Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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