Can diabetics eat Honey and Cinnamon?

“HONEY, YOU’RE SO SWEET!”

Being a diabetic, the only sweet honey you can ponder upon is your cute little spouse, because all other honey – fresh or marketed, will leave you with very high blood glucose level.

Let’s do the math…

100g of honey has 82g of carbohydrates in the form sugar BAD

The glycemic index of honey ranges from 45 to 64 still below that of raw sugar STILL BAD

This gives us the glycemic load of 100g of honey (if consider the glycemic index at an average of 55) => 45.1 VERY VERY BAD (ideal glycemic load is under 10)

Thus, if we calculate ideal serving size for honey, it would be approx 21g which is one tablespoon. But even at this serving size, it will give you equivalent of 17g of raw sugar. The WHO recommended daily sugar intake is 5% of daily caloric value, which for an adult with 2000 caloric intake amounts to 150 cal = 25g of sugar. So, why take a risk?

Better to avoid honey as much as possible. In cases where it is not avoidable, the amount should be restricted to half tablespoon (glycemic load = 4.7) or even lesser – maybe quarter tablespoon (glycemic load = 2.4).

Let’s see what does cinnamon have for diabetics…

Cinnamon

Before dwelling into discussion, let me break the good news – cinnamon is not only good for diabetics but also a recommended spice for diabetics, let’s see why…

At 100g serving size

Table showing nutritional facts of 100g of cinnamon
Calories 247  
GI 5  
Saturated Fat 0.3g 1% of daily value
Cholesterol 0mg  
Carb 81g  27% of daily value

Although, the nutritional values for 100g of cinnamon are well within the normal range, we cannot have it at this much quantity because cinnamon itself is a spice and not a proper food item to be consumed by itself.

So, how much cinnamon should be consumed?

Various studies have been conducted with respect to benefits of cinnamon and almost all of them recommend approx. 6g of cinnamon per day which is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

Let’s ponder upon a simple question: “Why is cinnamon good for diabetics?”

Cinnamon – Mechanism of Action

Small intestine is involved in the absorption of glucose from the semi digested food that comes from the stomach.

The rate at which the food is passed from the stomach to the small intestine is known as GASTRIC EMPTYING RATE.

Now think of a simple logic, no food in intestine means no glucose absorption and less food in intestine, thus lesser absorption of glucose. Cinnamon is responsible for decreasing the gastric emptying rate due to which the food ingested spends more time in the stomach and is passed down to the intestines at a slower rate. Net effect is the slower and reduced absorption of glucose from the intestines into the blood => helping in avoiding blood glucose level spikes.

Once the glucose is absorbed into the blood stream it is the responsibility of insulin to let the body cells increase the glucose uptake. But we know that type 2 diabetics mainly suffer from the insulin resistance or inability of insulin to act on its receptors situated on the target cell membranes (i.e. on the surface of the target cells).

Cinnamon is known to increase the sensitivity of the target cells to insulin action by acting upon various molecular mechanisms involved in the insulin-receptor interaction. Increased insulin sensitivity means increased glucose uptake by the target cells => helping in avoiding blood glucose level spikes.

Other potential benefits of Cinnamon

(By potential benefits I mean those benefits which are well know but without significant scientific evidence)

  • It may lower the cholesterol levels which can help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular complications, especially in those with poor diabetes control.
  • It may act as anti-clotting agent thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular complications.
  • Diabetes mellitus is known to affect the immunity of the individual. In that case cinnamon can, up to certain extent, act as antiseptic and antibacterial agent.
  • Diabetes mellitus is also known to increase the inflammatory processes in the bodily tissues and for which cinnamon is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects also.

Side effects of Cinnamon

  • Cinnamon contains a chemical known as COUMARIN which is known to adversely affect liver especially those who already suffer from liver disease.
  • Cinnamon can cause inflammation of the mucous membrane of the oral cavity, if consumed in excessive quantities

With all this knowledge a question arises: “How much and how frequent consumption of cinnamon is recommended?”

My suggestion regarding this is:

  • Maximum amount to be consumed in a day should not be more than 6g or 1tbsp.
  • The frequency should be restricted to once in three days or even lower than that. Best recommendation would be to use pinch of cinnamon daily in cooked food, tea, etc. and using a bit higher (but still under 6g) on cheat days so that it helps maintaining blood glucose levels without affecting adversely.

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WARNING:

  • Every individual, diabetic or non-diabetic, has its own bodily mechanism and metabolism. It is always cautioned that food recommendations should be correlated with personal health history and the advice of the doctor.
  • These calculations are based on the daily calorie intake of 2000. 

It is a good practice to have a rough calculation of the nutritional facts of the food items before eating them for the people belonging to all the spectra of health and fitness and not just diabetics.

Do you want me to analyse any other food item? Comment your request below.

Further reading: http://www.glycemic-index.org/cinnamon-health-benefits.html

 

References:

Hey there, I’m a final year undergrad medical student at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Medical College (SSRMC), Mauritius.

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  1. Pingback: Can diabetics eat caramel popcorn? – Diabetics Today

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