Consuming two tablespoons of honey can help balance blood sugar and improve cholesterol levels, according to a new study.
Experts said that replacing added sweeteners in the diet, such as sugar in tea, with honey may reduce the risks of diseases associated with excessive sugar consumption, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Researchers at the University of Toronto analyzed the results of 18 trials that included more than 1,100 participants and found that raw honey from a single floral source had the most positive effect on the body.
They found that it lowered fasting blood glucose and the amount of low-density lipoproteins (or “bad cholesterol”) in the blood.
Honey consumption also increased high-density lipoproteins (“good” cholesterol) and showed signs of improving inflammation.
All study participants followed a generally healthy diet, with sugar accounting for 10 percent or less of their daily caloric intake.
The study found that honey from a single floral source “consistently produced neutral or beneficial effects” in the body.
The participants received an average of 40 grams, or around two tablespoons, of honey a day over the course of eight weeks.
Most of the benefits were seen in people who consumed raw honey, from false locust or black locust trees.
However, honey lost many of its health benefits after heating it above 65 degrees Celsius.
Tauseef Khan, a senior researcher at the university’s School of Medicine, said the results were surprising because honey “is 80 percent sugar.”
“But honey is also a complex composition of common and rare sugars, proteins, organic acids, and other bioactive compounds that most likely have health benefits,” Khan said.
The experts said the results showed that not all sugars should be treated the same by health and nutrition officials.
“We’re not saying you should start eating honey if you’re currently avoiding sugar,” Khan said. “The bottom line is more about replacement: If you use table sugar, syrup, or another sweetener, swapping those sugars for honey could reduce cardiometabolic risks.”