Honey is known as nature’s golden healer because it’s used in so many recipes and home remedies. To relieve a sore throat, we’re often told to drink hot honey and lemon juice. And while honey is used in many baking recipes, is honey low in FODMAP? Unfortunately, it isn’t FODMAP-friendly. It contains a lot of fructose and should be avoided.
Is Honey Low FODMAP?
People often say that honey is a healthy natural sweetener with strong medicinal properties because it can fight inflammation, stop bacterial growth, and reduce oxidative stress.
While honey is generally considered healthy, it’s not low in FODMAPs.
Fructose is a type of sugar that is found in honey. Honey also contains other sugars like glucose and sucrose.
The main problem with fructose is that it is poorly absorbed in the small intestine. When fructose isn’t absorbed properly, it ferments in the gut and can cause gas, bloating, and other digestive symptoms.
For people with IBS or other digestive disorders, it’s important to limit foods that contain fructose. This is why honey is not considered a low FODMAP food.
Let’s Talk About Fructose Excess
When we talk regarding fructose in the context of FODMAPs, we’re looking to see if it’s presently more than glucose in food. A food item is low FODMAP if it contains more glucose than fructose. Because of the difference in how this ratio is digested, if the fructose is present in a higher ratio, the food is high FODMAP.
Several low FODMAP food products are not fructose-free, but they also have a lower fructose-to-glucose ratio and are thus considered low FODMAP. And, of course, several low FODMAP foods are fructose-free.
What Causes Fructose Malabsorption?
Before you can understand how and why fructose may not be absorbed properly, you need to know how it is absorbed, which we cover in our article What Are Monosaccharides? Find Out What the “M” in FODMAP Means!
Everyone has trouble absorbing fructose if they eat or drink too much of it, but about one-third of the population has a very low ability to absorb fructose and is said to have “fructose malabsorption.”
Hereditary fructose intolerance is a potentially serious condition that is found in babies when they start eating or drinking food or formula with fructose or sucrose. Fructose malabsorption is not the same as hereditary fructose intolerance.
Low FODMAP Ways To Replace Honey
Honey is tasty, but it’s a common high FODMAP ingredient that should be avoided during the diet’s strict low FODMAP phase. Fortunately, there are four simple low FODMAP honey substitutes:
Pure Maple Syrup (1:1 Replacement)
Pure maple syrup is a low-FODMAP sweetener made from sugar maple sap that has been boiled down to a thick syrup. It can be used as a direct substitute for honey. When substituting maple syrup for honey, use a 1:1 ratio. This means that if a recipe calls for two tablespoons of honey, you should use two tablespoons of maple syrup instead. Two tablespoons of maple syrup is a low FODMAP serving.
Brown sugar (1:1 + ¼ Liquid Replacement)
Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar that has been refined or by leaving the molasses in sugar crystals that have been refined. It is another sweetener that is low in FODMAPs and can be used instead of honey. Brown sugar, on the other hand, is dry, while honey is wet. This means that the recipe needs more liquid. You can replace each cup of honey with one cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of liquid.
Golden Syrup (1:1 Replacement)
To sweeten and flavor cakes and puddings, golden syrup is a light golden-colored treacle made from the juice of cane sugar that is made from cane sugar. Golden syrup is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, and according to Monash University, 1 teaspoon of it is low in FODMAPs. Please keep in mind that 1 tablespoon of golden syrup contains a lot of FODMAPs. When replacing honey with golden syrup, use a 1:1 ratio.
Rice malt syrup (1:1 Replacement)
Rice malt syrup is a low-FODMAP sweetener made by dissolving the starch in brown rice using enzymes. The fermented liquid is then cooked and strained to make a syrup. Gluten is present in some rice syrups, which is only an issue if you have Coeliac disease. When substituting honey with rice malt syrup, use a 1:1 ratio. One tablespoon of rice malt syrup is a low FODMAP serving size.
How to Follow a Low-FODMAP Diet
You can get help from your doctor or a dietitian who is familiar with the low-FODMAP diet. The three steps of a low-FODMAP diet are a restriction, reintroduction, and personalization.
- Restriction: To see if your symptoms improve, you’ll stop eating certain foods for six to eight weeks under the supervision of an expert.
- Reintroduction: Once your stomach has calmed down. You can gradually reintroduce foods one at a time, one item per week, with the help of your doctor or dietitian. You may find that you’re only sensitive to one or two FODMAP carbs, rather than all of them.
- Personalization: Some FODMAP carbs may cause you to react differently than others. The goal is to figure out which foods cause your digestive issues. Then create a diet that provides all of the nutrients you require while only including the FODMAPs you can tolerate.
Honey is a high FODMAP sweetener that should be avoided during the low FODMAP diet. There are several low FODMAP substitutes for honey that can be used in its place, including pure maple syrup, brown sugar, golden syrup, and rice malt syrup. When substituting honey with one of these substitutes, use a 1:1 ratio. Remember to adjust the recipe accordingly if you are using a dry sweetener like brown sugar.1