- The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the effect of carbohydrate foods on blood sugar levels.
- There are many claims that honey has a low glycemic index, but some companies are using this claim to sell honey as a unique health food with special benefits for diabetics.
The simple answer is that there isn't any evidence that honey affects blood sugar levels differently from other carbohydrate foods. I looked at the published research on this question and here's what I found...
Glycemic Index of Honey
Many people believe that because it has a low glycemic index number, eating honey will reduce your blood sugar levels more than eating most other types of sugars. This makes sense since honey does contain fructose , which can slowly be converted to glucose in the liver. However, other carbohydrate foods such as fruit and dairy products also contain fructose .
- Glycemic index is a measure of how fast it raises your blood sugar levels within 2 hours after you eat it compared with eating pure glucose (which scores 100) or white bread (which typically scores 70).
- Even though the glycemic index of honey is less than table sugar, glucose tablets, or white bread, all these sweet foods will cause a similar rise in blood sugar levels shortly after eating them. This is because they all have a high glycemic load , which takes into account not only the GI but also the amount of food consumed that contains this carbohydrate.
Glycemic Index of Types of Honey
I found one study where researchers compared the glycemic index values of five different types of commercially available honeys - eucalyptus, lime, manuka , and two unidentified types - and they ranged from 41 to 69 ( 45 ). For comparison, pure glucose scores 100. Other studies have shown that dark buckwheat honey has a glycemic index of about 48 ( 49 ).