Can Honey Cause Diabetes?
In this article, we will explore the question, “Can honey cause diabetes?” We will also delve into other significant topics, including types of honey and nutrient profile.
Can honey cause diabetes?
The answer is not direct. Honey, with its low glycemic index (primarily composed of fructose followed by glucose) and minimal impact on blood sugar levels in individuals (1).
Along with its abundance of non-sugar components (enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, phenolic compounds), it may offer potential nutritional benefits (1).
However, it is crucial to ensure the use of genuine, unprocessed natural honey at suitable therapeutic dosages (1).
Which types of honey are safe for diabetics and which are not?
For diabetics it ensures the use of genuine, natural honey at balanced dosages (1). There are seven main types of honey, as classified by the USDA’s commercial item description for honey (2).
- Liquid honey: Honey separated from the comb using different methods.
- Granulated honey: Honey that naturally crystallizes or granulates due to its composition and storage conditions.
- Creamed honey: Honey with a smooth consistency, made by heating, straining, and seeding crystallized honey.
- Comb honey: Honey stored by bees in sealed whole combs or sections.
- Chunk honey: Comb honey sold in a container with liquid honey poured around it.
- Raw honey: Honey in its natural state, containing fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, comb, propolis, and other natural elements.
- Unfiltered/unstrained honey: Honey that has not been filtered or strained, including fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, comb, propolis, and other natural elements.
- Filtered honey: Honey that has been filtered to remove most of the particles, comb, propolis, and other defects found in suspension, but not less than 1.0 micron in size.
- Strained honey: Honey that has been strained to remove most particles, including comb, propolis, or other defects, while retaining grains of pollen, small air bubbles, and very fine particles.
What does natural honey contain that is good for diabetes?
Honey can be a beneficial sugar substitute and can be safely consumed by individuals with diabetes (1). Natural honey contains a wide range of beneficial substances. It contains a complex mixture of healthy components such as phenolic compounds, flavonoids, organic acids, and essential micronutrients (1 and 2).
It also provides enzymes, proteins, and important vitamins like B vitamins and vitamin C. Additionally, honey is a rich source of minerals and trace elements that our bodies need, such as calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc (1).
These incredible components found in honey have numerous positive effects on health. They support the restoration of health, help repair and maintain our cells, and play a vital role in regulating metabolism (1).
They have particularly beneficial impacts on the nervous system, heart health, and muscles and bones. Moreover, honey can help counteract degenerative processes, prevent complications, and improve the overall quality of life for individuals with diabetes (1 and 3).
In a nutshell, natural honey is a powerhouse of goodness, providing essential nutrients that our bodies need to function properly.
Can individuals with diabetes consume honey?
Each diabetic person responds to the number of carbohydrates differently. Limited usage of honey is fine even for diabetic patients. But, honey being a carbohydrate source should be consumed in limited or controlled amounts (1).
In a clinical study, 30 patients with type-2 diabetes underwent honey tolerance tests (1 and 3).
The results showed that when given a high dose of honey (90 g), there was a significant reduction in postprandial plasma glucose levels. This effect was observed even in individuals with a high degree of glucose intolerance (1 and 3).
These findings support the claim made by Indian Ayurvedic physicians that honey can be a beneficial sugar substitute and can be safely consumed by individuals with diabetes (1).
What are the main benefits of consuming honey?
The primary advantage of honey lies in its nutritional composition, which has the potential to improve overall health.
Honey’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a wise substitute for sugar. Including honey in your diet can provide benefits such as improved metabolism and overall well-being (1 and 3).
What are the main risks of consuming honey?
Infants and young children: Honey should not be given to infants under the age of one year due to the risk of infant botulism.
Contamination: Honey can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum.
Adulteration: Honey adulteration is a concern in the food industry, where impure or low-quality honey is mixed with other substances or artificially modified. Adulteration compromising its quality and potentially diminishing its health benefits and improving risks.
In this article, we have addressed the question, ‘Can honey cause diabetes?’ Honey, when genuine, unprocessed, and natural, offers potential nutritional benefits. Therefore, it can be used as part of a balanced diet with appropriate dosages.
1. Sharma R, Martins N, Chaudhary A, Garg N, Sharma V, Kuca K, et al. Adjunct use of honey in diabetes mellitus: A consensus or conundrum? Trends Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2020;106:254–74. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224420306439
2. USDA. Commercial item description for honey. [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 07]. Available from: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/AA20380_Honey.pdf
3. Agrawal OP, Pachauri A, Yadav H, Urmila J, Goswamy HM, Chapperwal A, Bisen PS, Prasad GB. Subjects with impaired glucose tolerance exhibit a high degree of tolerance to honey. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2007 Sep 1;10(3):473-8.