Can People with Diabetes Eat Honey?

diabetes and honey

People with diabetes are adviced to avoid eating sweets as well as other foods that contain sugar. This leads to the question on whether someone who has Type 2 Diabetes can eat honey.




The amount and the type of carbohydrates that one would consume can affect ones blood sugar level as well. In order to keep blood sugar on a safe level, a diabetes patient must limit the total intake of carbohydrate to about 60 grams for every meal.

What Is Honey?

Raw honey will usually start out as nectar. Right after the bees collect it, the nectar will naturally break down into simple sugar and then stored to honeycombs. The honeycombs will trigger the nectar to evaporate and this leads to a thick and sweet liquid, which is the honey.

Honey, like other sugars, is a condensed source of carbohydrates. One tbsp. of honey is equivalent to at least 17 g of carbohydrates. However, unlike sugar, honey not only contains carbohydrates, it has other beneficial nutrients such as, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes.

Similar to sugar,  honey is a sweetener and contains glucose/carbohydrates and calories. Honey has around 64 calories while sugar has 49 calories in 1 tablespoon. It contains more calories than sugar in 1 tablespoon due to its higher density. Although it is comparatively higher in calories, honey is much sweeter than sugar and hence people tend to use less of it. However, this is not its only benefit.




How Honey Can Affect Diabetes, Blood Sugar and Insulin

A small study that was conducted in the United Arab Emirates, have shown that eating honey could increase insulin level and decrease blood sugar level. In the study both people with diabetes and people without diabetes experience initial blood sugar rise within half and hour after consuming 75 grams of honey. Despite the initial increase, blood sugar level dropped within 2 hours. Another group of participants who were given 75 grams of white sugar had relatively higher blood sugar levels in general after 2 hours. The study concluded that the group who took honey had lower blood sugar levels because honey help increase insulin levels which in turn help to release sugar from the bloodstream.

Another study conducted in Saudi Arabia, also investigated the link between honey and blood sugar levels. The study suggest that honey can:

  • reduce fasting serum glucose (glucose after fasting for 8 hours minimum)
  • raise fasting C-peptide (peptide helps regulate insulin)
  • increase 2-hour postprandial C-peptide (amount of peptide after meals)

Further studies are being conducted on the consumption of honey for those with Type 2 Diabetes. More studies are looking at the effects of adding honey to the diet plan of diabetic patients.

Choose Raw Honey Over Processed

Like most food, honey can come in processed or raw forms. Raw honey retains most of its nutrients because it did not have to go through the heating and filtering processes of processed honey. Opt for raw honey always and be cautious of the product you use. Most off the shelf honey are processed honey and some products may be mixed with syrup.  Read the nutrition and ingredients labels and always buy from a trusted maker.

Including honey in small amounts should not cause your blood sugar level to dramatically increase. Thus, those who have diabetes can safely consume raw honey and use it as a sugar substitute. It is way better than having sugar, even in moderation.


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