So honey vs sugar: which is the best?
I thought I would compile some nutritional tables (below) to have a look at this question.
Many people rave about honey, and say it’s really good for you. At the same time, many people say that sugar is bad for you. Are they really that different, or is it merely hype?
If honey really is much better for you than sugar, shouldn’t we try and substitute honey for sugar? Then again, if you’re on a diet, aren’t there lots of calories in honey anyway?
I felt that the best way to tackle this topic was to do a little
research on both sugar and honey nutrition. Of course, I have a
very basic summary here,
about the nutritional values of honey, so if you want to skip the detail, then take a look at that link.
There’s also a thorough breakdown looking at the calories and carbohydrate in honey compared with sugar, maple syrup and corn syrup, and you’ll find that here.
After doing my research, I compiled my findings in tables.
When you look at the values for honey, some of them are a tiny fraction different from those found elsewhere on my site. This is because honey is a natural product, and so there are slight variations, depending on, for example, where the bees have been foraging, the variety of flowers and blossoms they have been able to visit, and the different properties of those blossoms. During my research, I have used several data sources, depending on the information I wanted to share, and those sources of information were obviously based on different batches of honey. However, the differences are very minor overall.
Now, before we compare honey vs sugar….A couple of quick important notes!
You may read about the nutrition in honey, and think the values look impressive, but I felt it was also important to express these values as a ‘Percentage of the ideal Daily Value’ (% DV) based on a typical daily calorie intake of 2000. I think this is the best way to put honey in perspective, so that we can really see where honey holds its value in our diet. However, this is not the whole story where honey is concerned. For example, if you want to know whether honey is better than sugar, there are broader questions you could ask about the wider use of honey.
For one thing, honey contains specific anti-bacterial properties and has been found to assist in controlling MRSA in hospitals, and this information is not covered on this particular page, but you can read a little more about this on my page Is Honey Good For You?.
Also, please do see my message at the bottom about buying honey ethically, and why it's important!
So.....is honey better than sugar?....
Honey Vs Sugar: Calorie and Carbohydrate Comparison
From the tables, you can see that 100g of granulated sugar contains more calories than 100g of honey. Remember that honey consists of about 17% water (water having no calories), whereas granulated sugar contains no water.
Granulated sugar is 100% carbohydrate derived from sugar. Honey carbohydrate is also comprised almost entirely of sugar, however, the types of sugars are entirely different. Granulated sugar consists of 100% sucrose, whereas honey consists of only about 1.5g of sucrose, and the rest is Fructose and Glucose.
is particularly relevant if you are an athlete or are engaging in sport,
due to the provision of both short and sustained energy provision. You
can read a little more about this on my page ‘Calories in Honey’ –
there’s a link at the bottom of this page.
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 – but I don’t advise you to eat a lot of it!
There’s more about the topic of honey and weight loss if you follow the link here, but first, why not read on as there's some interesting background on this page.
Honey Vs Sugar: Vitamin Content Comparison
Honey certainly contains some vitamins, whereas sugar contains no vitamins. However, note that the vitamin content in Honey is not massive – for example, the table shows that if you eat 100g of honey, you’ll only get 1% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C – and you’ll get a lot of calories (over 300!).
On the other hand, if you eat 100g of raw, fresh, unpeeled apple, you’ll get 8% of your daily requirement of vitamin C, and you’ll consume only 52 calories! Of course, apples have other vitamins too, but if high energy is a priority, then honey is better.
……well, I said I wanted to put things in perspective! …… Now do read on!
Honey Vs Sugar: Protein and Amino Acids Content Comparison
Honey contains quality proteins, and 100g of honey gives you a score of 19. The closer the score to 100, the better. In this respect, honey is significantly better than sugar. But what about that raw apple? Believe it or not, 100g of the humble apple gets a score of 31!
Sugar on the otherhand, gets a miserable zero!
Honey Vs Sugar: Mineral Content Comparison
Sugar has very little mineral content. Honey is better, however, they are small percentages of the daily recommended amount. In other words, you still need to find other sources of these minerals in additional foods.
It seems that honey is more nutritious than granulated sugar. If you
are engaging in sports, then I think honey wins hands down.(Don't forget
to check out my link 'Calories in Honey' below).
However, if it's vitamins & minerals you're after, honey is very high in calories, so don’t go eating lots of it, just for the sake of the vitamins and minerals, otherwise, you’ll put on weight. Get yourself a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Should I Substitute Honey for Sugar?
It depends, but my views are as follows:
- If you are engaging in sports and need the energy, honey could be beneficial.
- If you’re on a diet, you could substitute honey for sugar. However, don’t eat lots of honey, because it is high in calories - substitute honey for sugar only as part of your calorie controlled diet - i.e. a teaspoon of honey instead of sugar. You may also be interested to read about the vinegar and honey diet! And this page comparing carbs and calories in honey vs sugar vs maple syrup and other sweeteners.
- Generally, I would say ‘everything in moderation’. If you are getting your full vitamins and minerals from a good balanced diet, there is no major need to substitute honey for sugar – remember, sugar is also a natural product, and there are organic, fairly traded versions available. However, most commonly, people substitute honey for sugar in small quantities, not because of diet but because of taste. There are some alternatives however.
Honey vs Sugar in Bee Diets!
Just one more thing before you go......
A honey bee only makes 1 twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its life time.
In other words, honey is to be
treasured and valued, and should never be a commodity.
Honey bee welfare is considered by few people. Over the
years, we have been sold a lie, that intensive agricultural systems with
high chemical usage, are necessary. But actually, the system we have
today, evolved from government support to the chemical warfare industry,
and the marketing of their toxins for use on the land. It's up to the
people to send a clear signal to farmers, through our purchase
decisions. I recommend that if you are going to buy honey, purchase
organic honey, or at least try to find a local beekeeper you can trust.
See this page about buying honey.
Learn more about just how precious honey is by
following this link, describing how they make it.
Also, link from Honey vs Sugar to my page on missing bees to learn about the problems faced by our bees. We all need to do our bit!
Finally, all types of bees are having a hard time at the moment, from honey bees to bumblebees and solitary bees. We all need to do our bit to help them, and there are simple ways we can help. Read about these 10 simple ways to help the bees. Or link from 'Honey versus Sugar' to this page, explaining about the broader and important role of honey bees in conservation. It's not just about pollination!
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How far must honey bees fly to produce a pound of honey?
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“We consider it as self evident that if the bees store honey for their own use, then honey is what they want and need.
Sugar syrup is, at best, a poor substitute. Therefore, we strive to leave enough honey in the hive for the bees’ winter feed”.
- Phil Chandler, "The Barefoot Beekeeper"
Did You Know?
Male honey bees (drones) have no father, but they do have a grandfather!
Does that sound impossible?
Did You Know?
Honey will keep indefinitely in a jar.
Did You Know?
Honey is food stored by honey bees to see them through the winter?