By C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, author of Bee Products for Better Health
Honey is a concentrated source of simple sugars; with 80 percent of it dry weight consisting of glucose and fructose. Although excessive consumption is not recommended for anyone with diabetes, abnormal glucose tolerance or obesity, in normal amounts honey benefits these conditions and may help weight loss. What is a “normal” amount? Research shows that diabetes and obesity don’t statistically increase unless the persons studied drink a lot of sodas, and sweetened teas and juices, taking in over 100 grams fructose daily.
Small amounts of fructose contained within fruits, vegetables and honey were always part of the human diet. In every human and animal study to date, honey ingestion has been shown to be beneficial or neutral with respect to controlling blood sugar, never harmful. Honey confers the following potential benefits for diabetes:
• The natural blend of sugars leaves the stomach and intestines more slowly than sucrose and does not “spike” blood sugar as much.
• Honey provides a stronger feeling of satiety than refined sugars.
• Contains numerous powerful antioxidants, some of which are hardly ever encountered in typically consumed produce.
• Contains prebiotic oligosaccharides
• Honey does not raise triglycerides, LDL cholesterol or blood pressure
• Honey has far more beneficial phytochemicals than refined sugars and starches.
How did honey get so maligned? It’s because large amounts of fructose from refined foods are unprecedented, and our metabolisms are not equipped to deal with this excess. The consumption of high-fructose corn syrup increased more than 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990, far exceeding the changes in intake of any other food or food group. High-fructose corn syrup now represents greater than 40 percent of caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages!
The situation is analogous to that of alcohol. Small amounts of alcohol from ripe fruits have always occurred in human diets, and we have enzyme systems in place to metabolize them. However, distilled spirits are a relatively new invention, and research shows that 1-2 servings of alcohol daily are beneficial or neutral to our health, but more is toxic.
Honey is a balanced natural food that human physiology is adapted to, and consequently it is not part of a blood sugar problem, but part of the solution.