Eating excessive refined sugar is not good for your waistline. Moreover, consuming too much sugar can lead to various health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, specific types of cancer, and reduced brain function. Some people claim that natural sugars, like honey, are healthier options, but is that true?
Honey vs. Sugar: Which is Healthier?
Choosing between honey varieties like acacia and white sugar to add sweetness to your meals? Many people lean toward honey as the healthier option. Let’s understand ecstasy what’s in these two sweeteners!
Both honey and sugar are sources of carbohydrates, primarily in the form of simple sugars. However, they differ in their overall composition.
- Sugar, which is typically derived from sugarcane or sugar beet, consists of monosaccharides. Half of it is fructose, and the other half is glucose, combining to form the disaccharide known as sucrose or white sugar.
- Honey that you see for sale in the United States is a natural sweetener collected by bees. It contains approximately 38% fructose, 31% glucose, 17% water, and 7% maltose. In addition to these sugars, honey also contains small amounts of other simple carbohydrates, pollen, and amino acids. The additional elements are enzymes.
Moreover, both sugar and honey come in various forms. Sugar is available as granulated in:
- Light brown
- Dark brown
- Demerara varieties.
Honey, on the other hand, exhibits variations in color, texture, and flavor. It directly depends on the plant source, including clover, wildflower, and acacia honey.
Nutritional Facts of Honey And Sugar
In a gram-to-gram comparison, regular table sugar contains slightly more sugar than any other honey available for sale. For every 100 grams:
- White sugar offers 99.8 grams of sugar
- Honey contains 82.1 grams of sugar
This variance arises mainly because sugar is entirely composed of sucrose, whereas honey has a higher water content.
Since white sugar has more sugar per gram, it also packs more calories per gram when compared to honey. In a 100-gram portion:
- White sugar provides 387 calories
- Honey gives 304 calories
However, when measured by volume, honey slightly edges out sugar in calories because it’s a liquid. Also, a tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, while a tablespoon of white sugar contains 48 calories.
The glycemic index (GI) of a food tells us how fast or slow it can cause a rise in blood sugar levels after consumption. The higher a food ranks on the GI scale, the quicker it elevates blood sugar levels.
White sugar has a higher GI ranking compared to honey, meaning it causes a more rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This is primarily due to the higher fructose concentration. Further:
- Sugar scores a 65 on the GI scale.
- Honey’s exact GI ranking can vary due to differences in honey composition. But, on average, honey ranks around 61.
While honey does have a somewhat lower GI, the distinction is relatively minor.
The Benefits Honey Offers Are Not To Be Missed Out On
Not all honey offers the same advantages. However, raw honey does come with a range of potential health benefits.
Source of Antioxidants
Raw honey packs a punch when it comes to antioxidants. These antioxidants in natural raw honey come from various compounds like phytochemicals, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid. In particular, flavonoids have shown their worth by:
- Demonstrating anti-inflammatory properties
- Offering other health perks
Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Apart from its antioxidant qualities, raw honey serves as a natural reservoir of vitamins and minerals. The exact lineup of these micronutrients can differ between different batches of raw honey. Besides, this is because of the bees foraging in various regions and on different plants, like the delicious acacia they produce. Yet, raw honey generally contains small amounts of:
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
It also holds trace quantities of numerous other essential nutrients.
Antibacterial, Antifungal, and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
One of the standout features of raw honey is its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Research indicates that unpasteurized raw honey possesses the ability to combat unwanted bacteria and fungi. All thanks to its natural antiseptic component, hydrogen peroxide. Further, this quality makes it valuable for addressing concerns:
- Wound healing
- Minor burns
- Skin irritations like psoriasis
Additionally, some types of raw honey have demonstrated potential in supporting the immune system against common ailments, such as:
- Sore throats
Raw honey contains traces of local pollen, which some experts suggest may help alleviate seasonal allergic reactions. Scientific confirmation remains ongoing.
Sweeter, So You Need Less
Raw honey has a higher proportion of fructose to glucose compared to sugar. Fructose is naturally sweeter, so you can use less honey to satisfy your sweet cravings.
Opt for darker, unpasteurized honey. In general, darker, unpasteurized honey tends to be richer in nutritional content. For the utmost health advantages, it’s a good idea to go for raw, locally sourced honey. It must be available for sale in various stores in the United States.
Benefits Of Sugar Aren’t That Bad Too
Sugar is, in fact, a naturally occurring substance. Although a significant portion of the sugar we find today is made from genetically modified sugar beets, it originally comes from sugarcane. It is a natural plant rich in fiber.
When it comes to calorie count, sugar has a slight advantage over regular honey. In terms of volume, sugar contains fewer calories. So, when you’re measuring out sweeteners for a recipe, one cup of sugar will contribute fewer calories compared to one cup of honey.
- Sugar provides 774 calories per cup.
- Honey gives you 1,030 calories per cup.
Inexpensive and Versatile
In the world of sweeteners, sugar, especially the refined white variety, stands out for its affordability. Further, it’s widely used in countless recipes worldwide.
It’s worth noting that various types of sugar exist, including white sugar, cane sugar, and brown sugar, among others. While the nutritional distinctions are minor, some variations do exist among these sugar types.
Which Is Healthier?
From a calorie and sugar perspective, the differences between sugar and honey are minor. Overall, raw honey offers slightly more health benefits than table sugar. However, you’d need to consume such large quantities of raw honey (and therefore sugar) to obtain a significant dose of the trace minerals. This would likely outweigh the additional health benefits.
Whether you prefer honey on your morning toast or a bit of sugar in your coffee, both sweeteners can be part of a balanced diet.
While honey does offer more nutritional value than table sugar, excessive consumption of both sugar and honey can have adverse effects on overall health. If you opt for honey, choosing raw, locally produced honey is a good idea. You have a better chance to benefit from its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties and potential health advantages.