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Is Honey Better than Sugar: the Battle Ends Here

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 13, 2014
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)
Quick Bites

  • Processed sugar doesn’t retain any nutrients.
  • Honey contains some minerals and vitamins.
  • Sugar provides lesser energy than honey.
  • But, honey is higher in calories than sugar.

More

Sugar is sugar and honey also is mostly sugar, which puts you in a difficult fix and you wonder- is honey better than sugar? Allow us to enlighten you about which side of the sticky stuff you should be choosing, keeping your health in mind. Attention ladies and gentlemen, the debate of “is honey better for you than sugar” ends today!

Let us start with a little background. When you eat food, your body breaks it down into glucose to generate energy. Understandably, the body needs to work harder to break down a complex food such as carbohydrate. Talking about sugar here, it is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose (the sugar found in fruits). Your body can easily break sugar down, resulting into a rush of blood glucose. From this glucose, whatever the body doesn’t use as fuel, is stored as fat.

Is Honey Healthier Than Sugar

Now, honey, which is made up of about 30% glucose, less than 40% fructose and about 20 other sugars in the mix, requires your body to work harder to break it down to form glucose. Therefore, you end up collecting fewer calories from the process.

We know you are thinking that honey is healthier than sugar. But, don’t decide to pick your favourite yet. There are other aspects to think about in order to give a fair answer to this important question- is honey healthier than sugar?

You can’t really choose honey over sugar if you consider the nutritional advantage because the former holds very small amount of vitamins and minerals and in order to reap the benefits, you will have to consume it in excessive quantity. If you compare 1-teaspoonful portion each of honey and sugar, you will find that neither provides any nutrient.

So, are we stuck in this perennial war of "is honey better than sugar?" No, we have some evidences to prove one better than the other. Let’s find out which is healthier for you- honey or sugar.

Presence of Minerals

When sugar is made, the process removes all leftovers of the original plant i.e. sugarcane. Ultimately, sugar contains no nutrients. On the other hand, large servings (1 cup portion) of honey and brown sugar contain about 8 and 10 percent of the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of iron and copper respectively. But this amount becomes negligible if the serving size is reduced to 1 teaspoon.

Is Honey Better Than Sugar

Comparison in terms of Calories

1 teaspoonful of honey contains 21 calories while the same amount of granulated sugar has 16 calories. But this 4 or 5 calorie difference may seem insignificant depending on how strictly you are watching your calorie intake. What really makes a difference in deciding whether honey is healthier than sugar is the total amount of sugar you consume in one day from either sources.

Mineral Comparison

Honey bees pick up nectar while going from plant to plant and make honey out of it. This honey contains varying amounts of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium, as well as some vitamins, depending upon the region or source. You must take note that honey doesn’t break down in nature which is why it doesn’t contain preservatives or additives. We can see people for the “honey is better for you than sugar” already jumping up and down with joy.

Benefits in Form of Carbohydrates

Both honey and sugar constitute carbohydrates which are sources of energy for our body. The difference between honey and sugar in terms of carbohydrates is the following- granulated sugar has glucose and fructose attached together whereas the two sugars remain separate in honey. One teaspoonful of honey has 6 grams of total carbohydrates as compared with 4 grams in sugar. If you are dieting and wish to substitute honey for sugar as part of a calorie controlled diet, then it may help to sustain your energy levels. So, is honey better than sugar? Well, in terms of carbohydrates, yes!

Is Honey Better For You Than Sugar

Recommended Added Sugar Intake

Honey has been touted as a healthier alternative to sugar but both of them actually fall in the same category of added sugars. Sugar may be added to your food during processing, preparation or at the table- anyways, limiting your sugar intake is important. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 and 9 teaspoonfuls of added sugar daily for women and men, respectively.

So, Is Honey Healthier for You than Sugar?

If you ask us if you should substitute honey for sugar, we will say- if you are a sports person who needs energy, or are on a diet, you could substitute honey for sugar; but eat it only in moderation because it is high in calories.

Make ‘everything in moderation’ your mantra for diet and you are good to go.

Image Courtesy: Getty

Read more articles on Healthy Eating.

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