Diabetes diet is all about nutritious foods with a controlled amount of sugar. Those with a sweet tooth, especially, try to slip in a lit bit of sugar in their food. If not, they look for substitutes of sugar. Honey is one of the most preferred sweet ingredient that diabetics think of having. Topping it on oatmeal or a fruit salad, people with diabetes try to include honey in some way or the other. But is honey safe for diabetics? That’s one question that pops up on minds of diabetics and their family members. Read on to find out if honey and diabetes make a good pair or not.
To delve deeper into the relationship between honey and diabetes, HealthShots connected with Priscilla Marian, Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Kalyani Nagar, Pune.
You should thank honey bees that produce a sweet and thick brown-coloured substance called honey. Marian says that bees produce honey by gathering and then refining the sugary secretions of plants. High concentrations of glucose and the monosaccharides fructose make honey sweet. It has a distinctive flavour with sweetness that’s similar to sucrose, and that’s why people with a sweet tooth love it.
For long, people have been using honey for wound healing and also in skin care (benefits of honey). The expert says that it has antioxidants, phenolic acids and flavonoids. It is purely sugar with no fat, but there are traces of protein and fiber along with small amounts of nutrients like vitamins and minerals. It is said that the darker the honey is, the better it will be in terms of antioxidant content. These antioxidants protect us by neutralising the reactive oxidation reactions which develop in the cells contributing to conditions such as premature ageing,
diabetes and heart ailments.
Marian says that honey has to be used with caution if you have diabetes. Controlling elevated blood glucose levels is important to avoid other health issues. Honey is sweet, but since it has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities, it can be sparingly used in controlled diabetics. That too occasionally when the blood glucose levels are well within range (healthy diet tips to manage blood sugar levels). Honey may increase levels of adiponectin, which is a hormone that reduces inflammation and improves blood sugar regulation in some diabetics , non-diabetics and people with pre-diabetes.
Diabetic conditions differ from person to person, so it is best not to compare your condition with others. The expert says that honey can be consumed sparingly only under right medical guidance. Half a teaspoon of honey can be taken on any low sugar days (in hypoglycemia) with lemon tea or lime water just for taste change and sugar stabilisation by a diabetic. It cannot be a daily free food and for continuous long term use, as it can accelerate the effects of type 2 diabetes. So, honey cannot be a substitute for sugar in diabetics. It may be a better alternative in the regular non-diabetic population owing to its health benefits.
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Raw and fresh honey is rich in many medicinal values because it is rich in antioxidants. The expert explains that whenever any fresh ingredient is heated or processed or cooked, the first nutrient lost is the antioxidant and leaves the product less valuable. So, it is always beneficial to prefer raw and fresh honey than the processed one to avail its benefits.