Too much sugar is unhealthy for anyone, but you don’t have to cut all sugars from your diet. It’s about making healthy choices, and some sugars are better than others. For example, the sugars found in fresh whole fruit is better than sugar found in soda. That’s because when you’re eating fresh fruit, you’re also getting many essential nutrients your body requires. The same can’t be said for the can of soda.
One large push for a healthier sugar source is switching from granulated sugar to honey. However, is honey really a healthier option?
Honey vs Sugar
Let’s start off looking at the basic makeup of honey vs sugar. All serving sizes are an even 100g to keep things consistent.
Granulated white sugar is straight sucrose. There really isn’t much to it. 100g is equal to half a cup and contains 387 calories and is 100% simple carbohydrates.
Brown sugar, on the other hand, is 94.5% sucrose, 1.35% glucose, 1.1% fructose, and the remainder is a made up of water and trace minerals (nothing in significant quantities). Brown sugar is denser than white sugar. A 100g serving is a little less than a half-cup, meaning you’ll need slightly less for the same sweetness.
Then there’s honey. A 100g serving is approximately 5 tablespoons and has 304 calories. Honey is only 82.4% carbohydrates. The remainder is water and trace amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Honey also has a more complex makeup of sugars. Check it out:
Sucrose – 890mg
Glucose – 35744mg
Fructose – 40934mg
Maltose – 1440mg
Galactose – 3100mg
None of these sugars are “good,” but the more complex sugars present in honey have benefits. They are harder for the body to break down and use as energy, so your body won’t see as harsh of a blood glucose spike, slowing the release of insulin.
Honey “Health Benefits”
Honey, specifically local, raw honey is credited with reducing seasonal allergies. The reasoning behind this is that the honey contains local pollens and the exposure to these pollens reduces the allergic response.
There are a few problems with this. The first that it would have to be relatively local (not a huge problem if you know where to find it) and raw, meaning non-pasteurized. This rules out most large honey farms, so you’ll have to find someone who makes their own honey. All of this is doable, but does the effort actually produce results?
Science seems to fall on the side of no, or a minor improvement at best. That being said, there have been studies that found marked improvement, but they were fairly small trials, and you’d have to ingest so much honey (sugar) that it isn’t worth the benefits.
Another “health benefit” of honey is acne prevention. This is due to the antibacterial properties of honey (once again, these levels are far higher in raw honey). Unfortunately, like with the pollen levels, the antibacterial levels are too low to reduce acne levels dramatically. However, honey does have anti-inflammatory effects that have shown to ease the reddening from the inflammation in the acne.
Some studies have found raw honey to contain enough antibacterial and polyphenols to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. However, just because the presence of these essential substances are present, doesn’t mean that you should ingest the quantities of honey necessary to see any benefits.
Honey doesn’t have all of the health benefits some claim it to have, but the fact is, if you’re going to choose between sugar and honey, honey is the better choice. Just remember you need significantly less honey than sugar to have the same effect.
Honeybees are a vital part of the ecosystem, pollinating our crops and gardens. Right now, Honey Nut Cheerios is giving away over 100 million wildflower seeds to Canadians. While the cereal may not be a part of a Good Whole Food breakfast, we do support bees. You can do your part to bring back the bees by visiting bringbackthebees.ca and requesting your free seeds today (while supplies last).