As a nature’s elixir and natural sweetener, honey is generally considered healthier than sugar. But with diabetes becoming more prevalent, many wonder - can consuming honey raise blood glucose or increase risk? As a food scientist, let's take an objective look at the research.
Composition of Honey
Honey contains 80% sugar (mix of upto 40% fructose,upto 35% glucose and other sugars). The rest is water and nutrients (minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins). It is a natural product and complex in nature. Honey is sweeter than table sugar (sucrose) and hence it is generally used in lower quantities as compared to table sugar.
Unlike honey, table sugar is a simple sugar made up of 99.9% sugar (glucose) which is easily broken down in the body and this leads to a spike in energy/blood sugar levels. Table sugar is a highly refined product due to the various technological processes it undergoes.
Glycemic Index of Honey
On the glycemic index (GI), which measures how foods affect blood sugar, honey ranks lower than table sugar (GI - 65). Different honeys have different GI based on their composition and can range from 42 - 61. When we talk about refined sugar, it is easy to state the exact chemical composition, very simple actually, but talking about honey, many aspects should be considered regarding its composition. Studies show that honey had a better blood glucose response as compared to table sugar. Apart from blood glucose, honey also lowered cholesterol levels.
We all know about the healing properties of Honey. Raw Honey can help heal wounds in diabetic individuals. Diabetes can lead to inflammation, ulcers, foot complications and their healing process can be extremely slow. Honey and its antioxidants can fight infections, reduce inflammation and help the healing process.
While honey may not spike blood sugar as quickly as other sweets, consuming extra large quantities could still add extra calories and raise overall sugar intake over time. Like all foods, moderation is key - especially for those managing diabetes or prediabetes.