Honey is a food that is often used as a sweetener. However, some wonder if it is safe for people who are diabetic or with other metabolic disorders. What do you know about it?
Many people use honey as a natural sweetener or for its medicinal properties. But does it also raise blood glucose? Can diabetics take it? The glycemic index of honey can give us some answers and open up new questions.
The concept of glycemic index (GI) appeared about 30 years ago and is used to classify foods that contain carbohydrates, according to the rate at which they raise blood glucose.
From the values of each food, a table is created to be able to compare them. The food that serves as a reference is glucose which has a glycemic index of 100, and the rest are classified in a range ranging from 0 to 100.
Low glycemic index (below 55): much of dairy, fruits, vegetables, legumes and some varieties of pasta enter here.
Average glycemic index (between 55 and 69) : rice, bread and some breakfast cereals.
High glycemic index (more than 70): in this group we find white bread, potatoes or pastries.
Honey is a food made up, above all, by carbohydrates (80%) and water. Glucose and fructose are two of the most found. The ratio between one type of sugar and the other may be different depending on the variety of honey we are talking about.
Flower varieties are usually the most abundant in fructose and therefore have a lower GI. The glycemic index of honey is around 61, although it can vary 3 points up or down.
As we have seen, the variety of honey and its glucose-fructose percentage is what can make this value decrease. Therefore, this index positions honey in the middle group foods.
The glypasmic honey index
Honey is a food that is made up of, above all, carbohydrates.
The glycemic index, diets and health.
Many nutrition experts and professionals have long advocated a diet based on the glycemic index of food. It should include those in the lower GI group and those belonging to the highest group should be eliminated or restricted.
These types of diets have been defended because it is foods with a lower GI that are digested and absorbed more slowly. Therefore, they cause lower or more proplong glucose spikes over time.
This would be beneficial, for example, for people with diabetes, as they have difficulty processing sugars effectively. In these cases, good blood glucose control would help slow the onset of disease-related complications, such as kidney damage, nerve damage or increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
In addition, there is scientific evidence linking diets to low glycemic foods with the following benefits:
Reduction of LDL cholesterol.
Lower risk of any type of cancer(colorectal, breast, endometrium).
Reduces the risk of heart disease.
However, in the science of nutrition we look only at a nutrient (e.g. glycemic index) is not usually a good strategy, because we forget to value food in its entirety by focusing only on one of its attributes. In the topic on glycemic index we can cite the following problems:
The glycemic index values of a food are different according to the studies consulted.
Not everyone responds the same way to all foods, as insulin sensitivity is changing in each individual.
We usually never eat isolated food. We usually mix them in the same meal and in this way the glycemic indices that appear by analyzing food in isolation are altered. For example, the presence of fats or proteins regulates glucose absorption and subsequent increase in blood.
Finally, if you only look at this indicator, to include or eliminate food, we stop taking into account other important aspects such as its nutritional density, a possible probiotic effect, or satiating capacity, for example.
Taking into account the glycemic index has its pros and cons. It is often beneficial for diabetic patients.
Whatdoes the glycemic index of honey tell us?
For thousands of years, honey has been used as a food for its nutritional and therapeutic value. This is due to its nutritional composition, which includes antioxidants, phenols, organic acids and traces of vitamins and minerals.
Today, honey is used as a natural sweetener and for remedies associated with natural medicine. There is scientific evidence to suggest that a small amount of honey may have health benefits. Without going into many details we can summarize its properties in the following:
Reduction of analytical indicators of inflammation.
Protection of cardiovascular health, improving blood cholesterol, reducing triglycerides and with a slight decrease in body fat.
Antibacterial effects that may be positive in cases of gastroenteritis or Helicobater pylori.
However, thanks to these properties and the fact that it has an average glycemic index, we cannot use uncontrolled honey on a day-to-day basis.
Compared to refined sugar and some artificial sweeteners may be a better option, but we should not forget that excess added sugars also lead to long-term health problems. It is not recommended that they exceed 25-50 grams per day.
The honey glycemic index is not the only indicator of its benefits
The glycemic index is a measure to classify the response of blood glucose levels after taking carbohydrate-heavy foods. One of them is honey, basically composed of two types of sugars: glucose and fructose.
Honey has an average GI, which could be a better alternative to sweeten some of our favorite dishes or drinks. However, in addition to looking at this indicator, we must take into account the problems associated with a high intake of sugars in the diet.