Raw Honey and Diabetes

May 24, 2022

In our blog, Honey: Our Most Notable Superstar, we spoke about the many health benefits of consuming Raw Honey. In particular, we highlighted the amazing vitamins and minerals contained in a sticky, amber spoonful. 

Here, we are discussing the impact of honey in your honeybodies, particularly for diabetic conscious folks and anyone living or exploring a sugar-free lifestyle. We specifically will address the difference between the fructose in raw honey and the glucose in other table sweeteners. 

It is easy to note that as a culture we have become increasingly health conscious. On the one hand we see growing trends in organic, non-gmo, and plant based foods easily and readily available in major food markets. Yet, we also see a surplus of processed and low nutrient-dense foods, beverages and, where we are concerned, artificial sweeteners that promise fewer calories and will rapidly boost blood insulin levels without providing any nutritional value in return. 

Fructose & Glucose and How They Burn in Your Body

The main difference between fructose and glucose is how they break down in our bodies. Glucose is sourced by breaking down large sugar molecules called disaccharides and polysaccharides. Some common sources of glucose in our diets are breads, oats, pastas and starchy vegetables. Meanwhile, fructose is found in its simplest form in raw honey, fruits and some vegetables like beets, corn and potatoes. Glucose is rapidly metabolized for absorption into the blood system for energy provision which raises the blood sugar levels. On the other hand, fructose absorption is slower, and does not significantly impact insulin levels . 

Honey and Diabetes

As Jun brewers and distributors we are constantly asked by people with Diabetes if they can safely consume our honey-based beverages. Our recommendation is to always refer to your health care provider, and develop a meal-plan that teaches you how to listen to your gut. There are numerous researched and anecdotal materials available that will tell you why it might be a good idea to involve Raw Honey in your diabetic management plan.

The folks over at Healthline stated in their article Honey and Diabetes: Is it safe?  that “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.”

This published research paper on the benefits of raw honey consumption further went on to say that: “The various phytochemical constituents of honey also contribute to the progressive slow rate of fructose metabolism. In addition, honey contains disaccharides such as sucrose and oligosaccharides as well as other trisaccharides that are slow burning sugars. These could facilitate energy replenishment, muscle recuperation and enhancement of performance in athletes nourished with honey, while those relying on glucose for an energy boost might have been exhausted.” 

A 2017 study titled Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research evaluated the effects of honey on diabetic patients. The article states that “There is strong evidence which indicates the beneficial effects of honey in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. In one of the clinical trials of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus, the application of honey was associated with a dramatically lower glycemic index than with sucrose or glucose in type 1 diabetes and normal. Type 2 diabetes has values similar for honey, glucose, and sucrose. In the diabetic patients, honey can induce significantly a reduction in plasma glucose level versus dextran.” The chapter went on to conclude with the statement: “Furthermore, the therapeutic effects of honey in the management of diabetes may not only be restricted to controlling glycemia but also may be extended to ameliorating the associated metabolic complication diseases. [More research is needed].”

To Wrap It Up

Raw honey is a natural sweetener that has many health benefits and could help with managing insulin levels and lower your glycemic index. 

Talk with your doctor about whether or not raw honey is safe for you to consume in moderation.  While we at Shanti Elixirs think that raw honey is the bees knees, raw honey is not right for everyone. If you are going to consume honey, ensure that it is organic, raw, sustainably sourced with no added sugars and minimal processing. Whether you take it for allergies, sweetening your tea or spooning over your toast, it is delicious however it is served.