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Honey vs Sugar

Is honey better than sugar?

By Honey Blog

Both honey and sugar can be used to sweeten your tea, coffee or in cooking recipes. However, while both are sources of carbohydrates composed mainly of glucose and sucrose, there are some fundamental differences between raw honey and sugar. 

How is honey made? 

Honey is produced by honey bees collecting nectar from flowers and other nectariferous plants, then mixing it with bee enzyme by passing the nectar from one bee to another and then dropping it into wax cells called honeycomb.

Afterwards, honey is extracted from the beehive. This extraction typically consists of the honey frames being put into a honey extractor which is a mechanical device working by centrifugal force while a container holds the honey frames and spins, flinging the honey out.

Next, the honey could be bottled for the final consumer or stored in larger pots for future use or wholesale. Of course the methods may vary depending on the processing of the honey. Some commercial honey may go through a pasteurisation, but for this particular comparison, we take in consideration raw-unpasteurised honey.

What does honey contain?

Honey is composed of water, fructose and glucose as the exact ratio depends on the particular type of honey. Depending on the plants that it is made from, honey also has trace amounts of Enzymes, Amino acids, Antioxidants, vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, vitamin C and Minerals.

The vast majority of antioxidants found in honey are flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory properties and are considered to provide some health benefits. 

How is sugar made?

Table sugar, also popular as sucrose, is normally produced by sugar cane and sugar beet plants which are commercially grown for sugar production.

Once collected from the fields, they undergo a multi-step process, including slicing and soaking the sugar cane or beets in hot water to extract their sugary juices.

Afterwards, the juice is filtered and converted into syrup, which is further processed to turn into sugar crystals that are washed, cooled and dried to arrive on the market in many varieties and forms, the most common being granulated sugar.

What does sugar contain?

Sugar has a quite simple structure containing glucose, fructose and calactose. Sugar does not possess any vitamins, minerals or fibre. 

The good thing about table sugar is that it’s cheap, tastes sweet and can be used in various ways. Sugar is widely used in food and drink manufacturing. Sugar can add texture, flavour, and colour or be used as a preservative to prevent spoilage in commercially canned or stored food.

GIycemic Index 

When we look into honey and sugar, we need to take into consideration GI – Glycemic Index. Glycemic index measures how quickly particular food raises blood sugar levels in numbers from 0 – 100. 

Honey Glycemic Index

Honey has GI of around 55. However, the number vary between different varieties. For example, Acacia honey has a lower GI (Around 32-35), and it is generally considered suitable for people sensitive to sugar.

Glycemic Index Table Sugar

Table sugar has glycemic index of 65. 

Therefore, despite not a significant difference, honey has a lower glycemic index. 

Calories in Honey and Sugar

A tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, while a tablespoon of sugar contains 45 calories. However, this difference comes from the higher density of the honey compared to table sugar. A tablespoon of sugar weighs 16 grams, while a tablespoon of honey weighs 28g. Therefore, if we measure the calories per 100 grams, honey poses 304 calories while sugar has 387 calories. 

So, what’s better, sugar or honey? 

The short answer would be raw honey. Refined white sugar undergoes many steps of processing to become, a fine-grained, odourless product that dissolves quickly in liquids. What does that mean in simpler words? It’s stripped of vitamins and nutrients; all you get is fructose and glucose. 

Furthermore,

  • Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity. 
  • High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are two major complications associated with consuming too much sugar. 
  • Consuming too much sugar increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 
  • Sugar is high in glycemic index (GI), meaning it causes your blood sugar to spike with the sudden crash.

When it comes to personal consumption, raw honey can replace any use of sugar. You can sweeten a bowl of oatmeal or yoghurt. Drizzle over sliced fruit or toast for breakfast. Add it to your tea or coffee instead of sugar. Sweeten smoothies, yoghurt, pancakes, porridge; drizzle on breakfast fruits; spice up rice dishes; stir into iced teas, baking and cooking with it. The options are endless. 

And in addition, when used as a part of a healthy diet, these are some of the benefits raw honey is associated with: 

  • Antioxidant-rich
  • contains antibacterial properties 
  • it may help with digestive issues
  • Soothing a sore throat
  • Reducing cough symptoms
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps with allergies

The Bottom Line 

The sweet golden syrup from the beehive has long been considered a nutritional powerhouse. This ancient food has been used for centuries as both food and medicine. So next time when you’re thinking between sugar or honey, just remember health benefits associated with raw honey far outweigh those associated with sugar. But keep in mind honey is also type of sugar, so be mindful to the consumption and take in consideration your personal health and diet.