Nov. 22, 2022 – A new analysis from the University of Toronto shows that eating honey may help people manage high cholesterol or blood sugar levels.
Honey’s health benefits are so powerful that its status as an added dietary sugar should perhaps be reconsidered, the researchers concluded.
“The word among public health and nutrition experts has long been that ‘a sugar is a sugar,’” said researcher John Sievenpiper, MD, PhD, in a news release. “These results show that’s not the case, and they should give pause to the designation of honey as a free or added sugar in dietary guidelines.”
Specifically, the researchers found that eating honey is associated with lowered fasting blood glucose, which is a measure of sugar in the blood used to diagnose diabetes. Their analysis also showed it improved heart health measures such as cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Published this month in the journal Nutrition Reviews, the research synthesized data from 18 previous controlled trials with a combined 1,105 participants.
The benefits of honey were particularly obvious when the honey came from a single floral source, particularly clover and robinia. Benefits were also notable for raw honey, compared to processed.
Federal dietary guidelines recommend that added sugar account for less than 10% of daily calories. The American Heart Association says honey is “not ideal for daily consumption,” pointing to its caloric impact of 64 calories per tablespoon with minimal fiber, vitamins, or protein.
“We’re not saying you should start having honey if you currently avoid sugar,” said co-author Tauseef Khan, PhD. “The takeaway is more about replacement – if you’re using table sugar, syrup or another sweetener, switching those sugars for honey might lower cardiometabolic risks.”