What’s all the hoopla about honey anyway? I was talking to a client recently and he mentioned a question his girlfriend recently asked him about honey. She wanted to know if honey had any benefits in terms of its effects on her blood sugar.
A great question, indeed, and one that I’ve heard many times! Of course I went off into my usual tangent about how sugar is absorbed and why it does what it does, until my client had to throw a dumbbell at me to shut me up! It happens…just saying!
In all seriousness, let’s discuss how honey impacts your blood sugar.
The Nutrition of Honey
When you eat a tablespoon of raw honey in your food or coffee or tea, it nets you:
- 64 calories
- 22 amino acids
- 27 minerals (including copper and magnesium)
- 17 grams of sugar
- 0 grams of fat
- a tiny bit of protein
Digestion of Honey and Blood Sugar Levels
The first thing to know is that the predominant sugar in honey is unbound fructose. Fructose is treated a little differently by our digestive system compared to plain table sugar. Sugar is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. However, fructose is absorbed into the hepatic portal system and almost entirely cleared by the liver.
The hepatic portal system is a vascular system that collects certain nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract and takes them straight to the liver. In that way, fructose doesn’t have an opportunity to raise your insulin levels. The liver converts it into stored glycogen for use as it is needed. This is a great health benefit when you’re trying to keep your insulin levels at a fairly stable level.
Therefore, honey’s greatest benefit is that it has a minimal effect on insulin levels. Making it a great choice as a sweetener and a healthier alternative to plain sugar.