Health

Is honey healthier than sugar?

While honey and table sugar are both technically sugars, honey’s unique properties, including a higher sweetness level and trace minerals and enzymes make it a healthier choice. Read on to discover more!

Firstly, what is ‘sugar’?

Commonly ‘sugar’ is shorthand for processed cane sugar, or sucrose, but there are many more types of sugars found in our foods, including:

  • Lactose and galactose (found in milk and dairy products),
  • Fructose (found in fruits and honey)
  • Glucose (found in honey, fruits and vegetables)
  • Maltose (found in barley)
  • Sucrose (made up of glucose and fructose and found in plants)

 

Why is sugar called ‘empty calories’?

Sugar or ‘sucrose’ is made up of two sugar types – 50% fructose and 50% glucose, with a GI rating of 65. While a source of energy, this higher GI rating can lead to spikes in blood glucose levels as it is absorbed by the body relatively quickly, especially if not consumed with other lower GI foods. In addition, it offers no minerals, vitamins, fibre or other nutritional substances – hence the term “empty calories”.

 

Why is Honey is sweeter than sugar?

The ratio of sugars in pure Australian honey is around 36-50% fructose, 28-36% glucose (read more on this here) giving it a lower GI rating. The good news about these sugar ratios is that the higher fructose content makes honey taste sweeter than table sugar, meaning you need less to achieve the same sweetness when used in your drinks and recipes, which helps you to reduce your overall sugar intake. You can more learn more about how to swap sugar for honey in your baking and cooking here.

 

Which micronutrients, minerals and enzymes does honey contain?

While sugar (sucrose) is simply empty calories, honey contains at least 181 substances, including small amounts of proteins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, trace elements, vitamins, and polyphenols (antioxidants). Small amounts of pollen are also still present in commercially available store-bought honey. Bee pollen is available as a health food supplement, and anecdotal reports indicate locally produced honey may help to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
Honey is not only good for you, but it also adds flavour

As a completely natural product directly from the hive, the taste of honey changes with the season and the flowers the bees have foraged upon. This means you can enjoy honeys of light, delicate flavours all the way through to rich, bold caramel-tasting honeys that are wonderful in cooking and baking. To discover which types of honeys are ideal for your recipes, click here.

 

Can Honey help your digestion?

Honey contains several enzymes (from the bees as they process the nectar into honey), which enhance the digestion of carbohydrates such as sugars and starch. Due to this, the major sugar components in honey are already in a form that is easy to absorb when compared to sugar (2).
More recent research has also revealed that some Australian honeys contain prebiotic oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are a type of non-digestible fibre that when consumed, passes through to the lower intestine as acts as a food source for the body’s naturally occurring good gut bacteria that contribute to health and wellbeing.

 

What’s the calorie difference?

Gram for gram, honey contains fewer kilojoules than sucrose, and is approximately twice the sweetness equivalent – here’s a handy table for your reference!

Honey is not only good for you, but it also adds flavour

As a completely natural product directly from the hive, the taste of honey changes with the season and the flowers the bees have foraged upon. This means you can enjoy honeys of light, delicate flavours all the way through to rich, bold caramel-tasting honeys that are wonderful in cooking and baking. To discover which types of honeys are ideal for your recipes, click here.

 

References
  1. J.M. Alvarez-Suarez, S. Tulipani, S. Romanididi, E. Bertoli and M. Battino, “Contribution of honey in nutrition and human health: a review”, Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, Vol.3, No.1, pp. 15-23,2010.

  2. A. Ajibola, J.P. Chamunorwa and K.H. Erlwanger, “Nutraceutical values of natural honey and its contribution to human health and wealth”, Nutrition and Metabolism, Vol.9, No.61, 2012.

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