Honey vs. Sugar: Which is Healthier?
By: Ariana Palmieri
It's time to finally settle the age old question: Which is healthier, honey or sugar? Lets look at both contestants and see the pros and cons to each before making our final decision. Honey and sugar are both definitely sweeteners which contain glucose and fructose. However, which is the one you should be eating more of? Here's what you need to know.
Honey: The basics
Honey is a natural sweetener. Bees create honey by collecting nectar from flowers. This golden substance is usually thick and can range in color from pale yellow to dark brown. Honey contains trace amounts of enzymes, antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, and B vitamins. Also, many of the antioxidants found in honey are called flavonoids. These have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial. There are also several different kinds of raw honey, including wildflower, clover, blueberry blossom, and buckwheat. These are only a few possible honey varieties. Each honey variety has a distinct taste and color too.
Here are some pros and cons to consuming honey:
- Raw local honey may actually help alleviate your allergies.
- Raw honey (not processed honey) contains traces of minerals and vitamins.
- Can help ease coughing and a sore throat.
- You don't have to use a lot of honey to increase sweetness.
- It may help kill off germs thanks to its antimicrobial properties.
- Honey has a long shelf life so it will last a while (it never spoils).
- Honey may not be safe for infants younger than one year old.
- Honey is high on calories, so it might not be the best for those trying to lose weight (about 22 calories per teaspoon).
- Honey is primarily made up of sugar.
Sugar: The Basics
Sugar is also a sweetener, but it has no added vitamins or nutrients, unlike honey. It is a combination of fructose and glucose, which bond together to form sucrose. Sugar is derived from sugar cane and sugar beet plants. It goes through a multistep process in order for it to become refined, granulated table sugar. There are several different types of sugar, but white, brown, and raw sugar are the most common. Out of all the varieties, brown sugar contains traces of nutrients because it is a combination of white sugar and molasses. Brown sugar is primarily used in baking whereas refined sugar is often used to sweeten tea and coffee.
Here are a few pros and cons to consuming sugar:
- Sugar is lower on calories (about 16 calories per teaspoon) compared to honey.
- Sugar has a long shelf life (but so does honey).
- Sugar is a naturally occurring substance, easily accessible, and typically low cost.
- Sugar may be harder to digest than honey (thanks to lack of enzymes).
- Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain (despite having less calories than honey).
- Sugar can increase your risk of certain diseases (ex: heart disease and diabetes).
- Sugar can cause a spike and crash in energy.
- Eating too much sugar can have negative effects on your dental health.
Conclusion: Honey is healthier (in moderation)
Like all good things, honey must be consumed in moderation if it is to be beneficial. It's the healthier choice because the pros outweigh the cons, especially when compared to sugar. Honey contains trace minerals, vitamins, antibiotics, and enzymes, while sugar has none. While honey is a little higher in calories from sugar, it's only a 6 point difference, which isn't a big deal. Honey also does not go through nearly as much processing as sugar does, especially if you buy raw honey. Here at Beezy Beez, we sell several different flavors of raw, local honey to try: wildflower, clover, blueberry blossom, and buckwheat. All of our honey was harvested locally in New York and New Jersey. We never process our honey, so you can enjoy all the health benefits raw honey has to offer. We recommend taking no more than one to two tablespoons per day: Mix it into your tea, spread it on your toast, add it to desserts, or take it by the spoonful. However you like to eat honey, at least you can rest assured it's a healthier choice compared to sugar.
Ariana Palmieri is a green beauty blogger who strives to live as eco-friendly as possible. In July 2015 she started her blog, Greenify-Me, to document her own journey with sustainable products and makeup that would benefit the environment. In her spare time she loves to read wellness-related books, devour sushi, drink bubble tea with her boyfriend, and befriend stray cats.