Various dietary carbohydrates have been linked to obesity and altered adipose metabolism; however, the influences of honey vs common sweeteners have not been fully explored. We hypothesized that in comparison with sucrose, a honey-based diet would promote lower weight gain, adiposity, and related biomarkers (leptin, insulin, and adiponectin) as well as a better blood lipid profile. Thirty-six male Sprague-Dawley rats (228.1 ± 12.5 g) were equally divided by weight into 2 groups (n = 18) and provided free access to 1 of 2 diets of equal energy densities differing only in a portion of the carbohydrate. Diets contained 20% carbohydrate (by weight of total diet) from either clover honey or sucrose. After 33 days, epididymal fat pads were excised and weighed, and blood was collected for analyses of serum concentrations of lipids, glucose, and markers of adiposity and inflammation. Body weight gain was 14.7% lower (P ≤ .05) for rats fed honey, corresponding to a 13.3% lower (P ≤ .05) consumption of food/energy, whereas food efficiency ratios were nearly identical. Epididymal fat weight was 20.1% lower (P ≤ .05) for rats fed honey. Serum concentrations of triglycerides and leptin were lower (P ≤ .05) by 29.6% and 21.6%, respectively, and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was higher (P ≤ .05) by 16.8% for honey-fed rats. No significant differences in serum total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, adiponectin, C-reactive protein, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, glucose, or insulin were detected. These results suggest that in comparison with sucrose, honey may reduce weight gain and adiposity, presumably due to lower food intake, and promote lower serum triglycerides but higher non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations.
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