Diabetes Basics

Bursting the Myth: The Good and Bad of Honey for Diabetes

If you are thinking of switching to honey as a sweetener because you are diabetic, the bad news is that honey is no better than sugar when it comes to blood sugar levels.

Honey and sugar both raise blood sugar levels and therefore not good for diabetes. Diabetes is basically a condition in which our body fails to utilize sugar in the blood for generating energy required by the body cells.

Cells do not get the signal to absorb sugar either because the insulin (the messenger) is produced in lesser quantities, or because their receptors are blocked due to high cholesterol. And sweeteners like honey and sugar only make things worse by contributing to the unnecessary excess. Blood sugar then has to make its way out of the body through urine, which is why the urine of diabetics is sweet (doctors in the olden days actually tasted the urine of patients!). The kidneys bear the brunt of this excess and sometimes they could end up failing.

Honey is a purer form of sugar and in many ways it is superior to it when it comes to nutrition. Per se it is definitely better for the body than sugar. But you cannot substitute it in place of sugar and hope that your diabetes will lessen. Honey is three times as sweet as sugar and you may need lesser amounts when using for certain recipes. But it also has more carbohydrates and more calories than sugar, so you don't save much over sugar anyways.

But honey in moderation is certainly not bad. The key is always 'moderation'. This way you can enjoy the benefits of a natural product like honey. If you take care to reduce carbohydrates coming from other foods, honey is not bad at all for diabetes. Even sugar taken in moderation is not bad for diabetes, but honey is nutritious and sugar is not.

You don't get empty calories from honey. Honey is 80% natural, consisting of fructose and glucose. Vitamins are abundant in honey. They are: B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. Mineral are present too. They are: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. An encouraging fact for diabetics is that it contains antioxidants and helps in weight reduction too.

If you like the taste of honey and want to use it, you may well go ahead but remember two things - 1) use moderately, and 2) reduce intake of carbohydrates from other sources of food. Take care of these things and even as a diabetic you can use a bit of honey in your food instead of empty artificial sweeteners or even sugar.