Honey has in recent years convinced many people that it is potentially less harmful and more nutritious than sugar. That belief may be lacking in any objective comparison but certain facts are now known to science which we shall try to address here today. Honey is higher in fructose than glucose but it has less of both compounds than sugar. While being so, it has more calories than sugar. Some people therefore derisively say that sugar is well, sugar and honey being mostly sugar, is not necessarily safer to consume than sugar itself. Such people are dead wrong, and some comparative reasons will show why that may be the case in the following paragraphs. However, honey is considered by many people as the world’s oldest sweetener and you are likely to hear the phrase; “as sweet as honey” fairly often. The health benefits of honey have therefore been written about for many centuries. And even the ancient philosopher, Aristotle wrote about its many nutritional and medicinal benefits.
While honey is noted mainly as a natural product, many people have also dismissed sugar as a man-made, artificial product. On this same page about a year ago, we explored reasons why sugar is a deadly condiment.
The process of manufacturing sugar involves processes that serve to remove many of its healthy components such as the proteins, vitamins and organic elements. Honey is able to preserve all of these and more because the bees which produce it simply put together so many different components that make it so unique. As far as the body is concerned, there is no difference between honey and sugar. Both of them contain glucose and fructose. In sugar, both these components are bonded together as a compound known as sucrose, while they are actually separate in honey in their individual form. Refined fructose found in both food additives and increasingly also in sweeteners are metabolised in the liver and associated with obesity and fatty liver as previously discussed on this page about two years ago.
Consequently, honey does become quite an amazing natural product containing energy-producing substances such as glucose and fructose but also many minerals like Chlorine, Potassium, Phosphate, Sulphur and Iron. None of these additional properties are found in sugar. Honey also contains Choline, an important component of cellular membrane growth which our body is unable to produce on its own. Honey is also believed to contain some poisons because of the nature of its accumulation but those potentially harmful substances become useful products when they are mixed with many other components that make honey the unique product that it is. While the specific composition of any specimen of honey will vary from one place to the other depending on where it has been compounded, certain vitamins are also found in most types and these are vitamins B1; B2; B3; B5; B6 and Ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C.
In the end, both honey and sugar are sweeteners. The sweeter party is the fructose, and that is why it is commonly placed in the processed foods that we consume. However, it is less easily convertible to energy than glucose. As a result of this particular quality, foods that contain fructose are easier to convert to fat than glucose. So that if weight loss is your desire for choosing honey, it may actually be counterproductive as the fructose in it and which is a higher percentage than glucose ends up more as fat than energy. The result is weight gain. However, such weight gain is unlikely to result from the use of honey because the amount of honey added to food or beverages is usually much less than the amount of sugar that can be added to these foods. In other words, the same level of sweetness is achievable with less honey with the result that less calories will ultimately be gained.
In the end, sugar is made up only of glucose and fructose. Honey, on the other hand, contains more fructose than you have in sugar but less glucose in addition to many beneficial components that have antibiotic properties and antioxidant qualities. Such latter properties are not found at all in sugar. As said earlier, the larger proportion of fructose found in honey makes it sweeter than sugar so that less of it is necessary to sweeten a beverage. One teaspoon of honey contains 22 calories which dramatically rises to 64 calories in one tablespoon. A teaspoon of sugar, on the other hand, contains 16 calories which also rises to 49 calories per tablespoon. Honey has a glycemic index that is less than that of sugar, which means its ability to cause a spike in the blood sugar level is less than what sugar is able to do. It is more slowly absorbed into the system and is therefore of a better benefit to diabetics.
The result is that while honey has found many uses outside of food and drinks, sugar is found only in them. Honey today is used in the treatment of coughs, sore throat, in the dressing of wounds due to burns and other injuries essentially because of its antibiotic properties and its ability to deodorise wounds. It takes away some of the unpleasant smell found in fetid wounds and protects them from further attack by micro-organisms. In addition, it contains certain growth factors that serve to promote wound healing. Sugar, on the other hand, is unable to do any of these.
Besides, sugar must be swallowed or eaten before the body is able to digest it but that is not necessarily true of honey which usually has enzymes added to it by the bees. This makes the components easier to digest because they are already partially broken down.
Despite these advantages, it is potentially injurious to give honey to infants who are less than one year old. Honey has bacterial spores because it is minimally heated in the harvesting stage thus largely leaving the various bacteria intact. These bacterial spores can cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition. Those same spores are harmless in children older than one year and also in adults. Some of these features are constipation; a weak cry and generalised weakness.
Finally, it must be emphasised that even though honey has a much less potential than sugar for raising blood sugar, it eventually would do the same thing but at a slower pace. Too much of it can just like sugar cause undue weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.