It is common for diabetics to wonder if they can have honey? So, today we will try to delve into this dilemma – ‘Can you eat honey if you have diabetes?’ Honey has been used in folk medicine for many years. But its health benefits were studied and explained in the last decade when the scientists began to study and test its benefits.
Let us put it this way, honey is a natural sugar and carbohydrate. Thus, it’s natural that it is going to affect your blood sugar levels in some way. If you compare honey with sugar, honey will have a lesser effect on your blood sugar levels.
A study conducted in 2004 compared the effects of honey and sugar on blood sugar levels. This research studied people with and without type 1 diabetes.
For the group of people having diabetes, honey led to an initial spurt in blood sugar, 30 minutes after consuming it. But the blood sugar levels of the participants fell and remained low for two hours.
Thus, researchers concluded that honey, unlike table sugar, may cause a rise in insulin levels, which is a vital hormone to control blood sugar. But further research will clarify the effects of honey on diabetes patients.
What is honey?
Honey is a thick, golden-colored liquid produced by honeybees and other insects, like some bumblebees and wasps.
It comes from the nectar within flowers, which bees collect and store in their stomachs until back at the hive.
Nectar is made up of sucrose (sugar), water, and other substances. It’s roughly 80 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent water. Bees produce honey by ingesting and regurgitating the nectar over and over again. This process removes the water.
Afterward, bees store the honey in honeycombs to be used as an energy source during the winter when it’s harder to find food.
Although it’s a natural sweetener, honey has a bit more carbohydrates and calories per teaspoon than table sugar.
According to the United States Department of AgricultureTrusted Source, 1 tablespoon of raw honey has about 60 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates.
Honey also contains many vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It’s also an antioxidant, which are substances that prevent and slow cell damage.
Honey can be raw or processed:
Raw honey is also known as unfiltered honey. This honey is extracted from a beehive and then strained to remove impurities.
Processed honey, on the other hand, undergoes a filtration process. It’s also pasteurized (exposed to high heat) to destroy yeast and create a longer shelf life.
Processed honey is smoother, but the filtration and pasteurizing process do remove some of its nutrients and antioxidants.
There are about 300 different types of honey in the United States. These types are determined by the source of the nectar, or more simply, what the bees eat.
How does honey affect blood sugar?
Because honey is a natural sugar and a carbohydrate, it’s only natural for it to affect your blood sugar in some way. When compared to table sugar, however, it appears that honey has a smaller effect.
A 2004 study evaluated the effects of honey and table sugar on blood sugar levels. This study involved individuals with and without type 1 diabetes.
Researchers found that in the group of people with diabetes, honey caused an initial increase in blood sugar 30 minutes after consumption. However, a participant’s blood sugar levels later decreased and remained at lower levels for two hours.
This leads researchers to believe that honey, unlike table sugar, may cause an increase in insulin, which is an important hormone for controlling blood sugar. More research is needed.
Benefits of honey for diabetics:
One benefit of consuming honey is that it could increase your insulin levels thus, control blood sugar.
Also, honey is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants can impact the way your body metabolizes sugar, and anti-inflammatory properties of honey can reduce diabetes complications.
Honey is sweeter than sugar, so if you decide to consume honey instead of sugar then use honey in smaller quantities. Thus, honey is good when it is used in moderation.
Honey and diabetes:
Some research studies have revealed that honey improves diabetes management, but results are not consistent. It is best to reduce added sugar in your diet, eat low-carb foods and low sugar fruits.
When your diabetes is well-controlled and you wish to use honey, it’s best to choose organic, natural or pure honey as these types of honey are natural and sugar isn’t added. So, honey is ok for diabetics who have controlled and managed it well.
But, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should avoid using raw honey, because it is not pasteurized.
Research reveals that for Type 1 diabetics honey has a smaller impact on blood sugar levels than pure glucose or regular sugar. For Type 2 diabetes, honey impacts blood sugar levels in a lesser way than pure glucose or regular sugar.
Concluding our discussion about diabetes and honey, we can say that honey gives additional benefits as compared to sugar. Research reveals that honey has some positive effects on body weight and blood lipids for diabetics like reducing LDL or bad cholesterol and improvement in HDL.
Honey also contains antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory thus, it protects against diseases.
Though it’s true that honey has its benefits diabetic patients should consult their physicians before including it in the diet and making any significant change in their diet.
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