Diabetes and honey a better alternative to sugar?

Diabetes and honey 1

Honey gets a lot of positive commentary these days and it is even considered to be one of nature’s super-foods. It only makes sense then that we consider how diabetes and honey interact with one another and consider whether it is a better or healthier alternative to granulated sugar.

The important point to remember from the outset is that diabetes and honey still impacts a diabetics blood sugar levels. Even natural sugar from fruit has an impact on a diabetics blood sugar levels so it is important to monitor your own bodies response if you substitute sugar for honey.

Diabetes and honey

How is honey made

Honey is made by bees who eat, digest and regurgitate nectar from flowers to make honey. From the flower’s nectar it is collected by bees and then stored in honeycombs. The fanning of the liquid by the bees wings causes evaporation to take place leaving the thick sweet substance known as honey. Did you know that honey never goes off? They have found honey in ancient tombs in Egypt which is still edible today.

What the research says about diabetes and honey

It is interesting to note that some research done on diabetes and honey suggests that honey has a lesser impact on blood sugar levels than simple sugar. It is also considered to be sweeter than granulated sugar. This maybe evidence to suggest that honey makes a healthier alternative than sugar, however to counter this honey actually has a higher number of calories than sugar. It is important to note that each diabetic is different and will have a different reaction to each. If you are overweight then the most important thiong you can do is focus on your overall diet to lose weight. Please see my blog post about diabetes and weight loss here.

Calories of honey vs sugar

In terms of calories, honey has slightly more calories than sugar. One teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories. So honey does have more calories, however honey is sweeter and more dense than sugar so people maybe inclined to use less of it.

The compound elements of honey

Honey does contain sugar but it is a more natural sugar than the added sugar in other sweetened products. In fact honey contains two individual contents of sugar, those being glucose and fructose which are absorbed differently by the body. Fructose has a lower GI which may be better for diabetics. Glucose on the other hand is absorbed rapidly by the body and is converted very quickly by the body into energy.

Less insulin required for honey

There is also evidence to suggest that honey requires slightly lower levels of insulin in comparison to white sugar so in terms of the most important paragraph on this blog post then that maybe it so be sure to reread that sentence. It has also has a lower glycemic index level than white sugar so it maybe a healthier alternative for diabetics both type 1 and type 2.

What should diabetics choose?

Diabetics that exhibit good blood sugar control should have no problem eating either white sugar or honey but to start drawing conclusions that honey is a much safer alternative than sugar is perhaps a little too far. I am of the belief that  diabetics should try to slowly ween their way off the need for simple sugar or added sugar in foods.

Diabetes and honey 1

Honey versus granulated sugar

We maybe are splitting hairs here in terms of the health benefits of honey versus granulated sugar. Both granulated sugar and honey cause blood sugar levels to rise. There have been studies that suggest that consuming honey maybe better than sugar however you need to do your own research in terms of monitoring your own blood sugar levels. It should be said that a lot of the research on diabetes and honey thus far gives some very mixed conclusions.

I love honey and I use sweeteners too

I love honey and have found that it is by and large the same as sugar. It may be absorbed slower by my body than sugar but people are different, In fact in my research online I found one study where honey spikes the blood sugar levels more than sugar immediately after it is consumed. However one hour later blood sugar levels stabilise and fall more than they do after eating sugar

I tend to use sweeteners as a “healthy alternative sweetener” . There is a lot of research out there that suggests sweeteners are way worse for you than sugar and honey combined and I am not going to start an argument with those people here. The bottom line is that artificial sweeteners such as Splenda does not move your blood sugar levels higher when you eat them so that is why I choose them… sometimes :o)

If you prefer the taste of honey, go ahead and use it — but only in moderation. Be sure to count the carbohydrates in honey as part of your diabetes eating plan. For my blog post on carb counting please go here.

Benefits of honey

The benefits of honey are from reported research into the effects of honey on the body.

  • Proven to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. The flavonoids and antioxidant properties contained in honey have reportedly reduced the risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease,
  • Reduce coughs and throat soreness. This has been around for many years. The soothing properties of honey may help to ease a sore throat or cough, especially at night.
  • Great for the skin. If you can stand how uncomfortable dousing yourself in honey can be then this maybe a great home remedy. It has antibacterial compounds that the skin loves. It is moisturising and nourishing.
  • Other reported benefits. It is also said to be great in improving things such as eyesight, it may help weight loss, it has been said to be an element in curing impotence and premature ejaculation, also urinary tract disorders, asthma, diarrhoea, and nausea
  • Blood sugar control. As reported above honey is not the same as sugar and its properties may be better for blood sugar control especially honey with a low GI. It is important to remember though that it will raise your blood sugar levels just maybe not to the same extent as sugar

A great resource for diabetics

If you are struggling with motivation or inspiration in the kitchen then I have just the eBook for you. This eBook was written by a 5 star chef who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes some time ago. After his diagnosis he fell into depression and it was only after his life was threatened by the early onset of complications did he use his disease for good. He created some award winning diabetic recipes that sent his type 2 diabetes into remission. He has put this motivation and inspiration including many healthy, tasty recipes into an eBook. You can go here to buy this eBook


As reported honey is definitely sweeter than granulated sugar, you might find that you use a smaller amount of honey than you would for sugar in some recipes. Honey actually has more carbohydrates and more calories per teaspoon than sugar. I think the key point is that unless specifically warned by your doctor about one or the other, go for the one that tastes best to you. Remember everything in moderation and also remember that both will raise your blood sugar levels.Exercising good control of your blood sugar levels will ultimately slow down or even prevent complications of diabetes

Please get in touch with me below to let me down your thoughts on diabetes and honey.

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  1. Cheertopia

    This was a great article on a very specific topic! I love how knowledgeable you are about this, it really shows throughout the article.

    Personally I choose to use honey rather than granulated sugar. I always try to use the most natural ingredients possible. Processed white sugar usually will not make the cut. However, there is some really valuable information in here about how to two compare health wise.

    Although I am not diabetic I still think this information is useful in knowing how many calories are in each as well as how each are absorbed by the body.

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Thanks Cheertopia. I wrote this because diabetics assume that honey is better for them than sugar so I thought it would be a good idea to explore. I agree with your comments about processed white sugar. Yes the calories in honey are slightly higher but I don’t think that should be a deal breaker. Everything in moderation ;o)


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