Health

What sugars is honey made up of?

What makes honey taste so naturally, and delightfully sweet? Read on to discover!

The taste and sugar composition of honey varies by season as well as the floral source that bees have foraged on to make honey. It's a wonder of nature!

Honey is made up of fructose, glucose and other sugars

Honey is a concentrated carbohydrate solution containing a mix of simple and complex sugars. The two main sugars present in honey are fructose and glucose. Australian honeys usually contain 36-50% fructose, 28-36% glucose and, depending on the floral source [1,5].

Fructose

Fructose is the sugar typically found in fruits. It is quite easily converted to glucose in the body. Any fructose that doesn’t get used right away is stored as fat.

Glucose

Glucose provides the most efficient energy to every cell in our body, including the brain. Our body is able to create glucose from various sugars and other substances in our diet, but these metabolic transformations consume energy. The brain is a special organ in that the only source of energy (fuel) that is used under normal conditions is glucose [2]. So, if you are needing brain energy, think glucose!

Sucrose

Sucrose is what we commonly know as white table sugar, and it is extracted from sugar cane or sugar beet, after a lot of processing. Sucrose is a disaccharide, formed from the joining together of fructose and glucose. It is broken down in the body to its component monosaccharides before further metabolism. This means sucrose gives 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Sucrose in honey is 0.8 – 5%.

Other carbohydrates

More than 20 types of carbohydrates have been identified in honey samples including number of oligosaccharides [3]. Some of these compounds are not digested or absorbed in the small intestine reaching the large intestine intact. Click here to read more about the health properties of honey to discover why it is nature’s sweet superfood!

Sugar profiles in honey varies by season and floral source

The sugar composition of honey varies by season as well as the floral source that bees have foraged on to make honey. For example, Ironbark honey has medium levels of glucose while Yellowbox honey is fructose-rich, making it a lovely, sweet addition to breakfast, drinks and baking [4].

 

References:
  1. ‘Nutrient Review: Sweeteners’
  2. Mergenthaler, P., et al., Sugar for the brain: the role of glucose in physiological and pathological brain function. Trends Neurosci, 2013. 36(10): p. 587-97.
  3. Bogdanov, S., et al., Honey for nutrition and health: a review. J Am Coll Nutr, 2008. 27(6): p. 677-89.
  4. Arcot, J. and J. Brand-Miller. A Preliminary Assessment of the Glycemic Index of Honey. 2005.
  5. Ranneh, Y., et al. Honey and its nutritional and anti-inflammatory value. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies (2021). 21:30
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