Updated: 20th March 2020
Can sugar be safely substituted with honey if you're a diabetic? Being a natural product made by bees, some may wonder whether honey is better for diabetics.
The short answer is:
Despite honey having a lower glycemic index than sugar, honey is nevertheless composed of different sugars, and can still cause spikes in blood sugar levels. This means you will not gain significant advantages from eating honey instead of sugar.
Now for further information:
Anyone with type 1 diabetes may find themselves on insulin, and frequently monitoring their blood glucose levels.
The many symptoms of diabetes mellitus, are a
reflection of the disturbance to metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein.
Diabetes is from the Latin meaning ‘increased urination’, whereas mellitus actually means ‘honey’. Lack of insulin means glucose (sugar) is inhibited from reaching the muscles and adipose (fat) cells, which inhibits formation of glycogen.
As a result, the levels of glucose in the blood rise, and once it reaches an excessive level, glucose (sugar) is excreted in the urine, along with excess water loss causing thirst. It tends to occur from around 20 years old onwards.
Type II Diabetes tends to occur later in life (i.e. in people over 40 years of age). Usually, cells lose insulin receptors, and so cannot respond to insulin. Heredity, lifestyle, overeating and under-exercising are risk factors.
Honey is high in sugar (mostly glucose and fructose), so it’s not suitable for diabetics in large quantities. In addition to which, in some countries, honey may also be blended with corn syrup.
If you are uncertain about the changes you need to make to your diet, it's important to get expert advice.
In the meantime, you can also read more on my page – calories and
carbohydrates in honey (and a comparison with sugar, maple syrup and other
sweeteners), and below you'll find some suggestions for honey alternatives.
You could try the following honey substitutes:
Low sugar apricot jam or marmalade
Chopped dried fruit (not coated in sugar)
In cakes, I sometimes add marmalade or jam, along with the flesh, juice and peel of an orange, or grated eating apple.
Drinks: approved sweeteners, fruit puree.