Honey Vs Sugar:
A Comparison

Honey vs sugar: which is the best?

Is honey better than sugar, are there any health benefits of eating honey, and if so, should we try and substitute honey for sugar? 

Then again, if you’re on a diet, aren’t there lots of calories in honey anyway and is there any real difference between sugar and honey?

I felt that the best way to tackle this topic was to do some research on both sugar and honey nutritional values, then compile the results into nutritional tables (below).

Only when armed with the facts can we really consider whether honey is healthier than sugar.

In order to add further perspective, I added in a further food: actually an apple! 

Why an apple? 

Well why not?  Because of the various claims made about honey, such as mineral content, I thought it would be a good idea to compare honey with an additional every-day, healthy food.

But first...a few quick notes...

  • I felt it was important to express the nutritional values in honey 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 in matters relating to health. 
  • 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?. The anti-bacterial properties of honey may also be a reason why some people try honey for acne, and honey facial masks.
  • 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, and those sources of information were obviously based on different batches of honey. However, the differences are very minor overall.

Finally, please do see my message at the bottom about buying honey ethically, and why it's important!

So.....is honey better than sugar?....

Nutritional Comparison of Honey and Granulated Sugar

Calorie and Carbohydrate Comparison

From the tables, you can see that 100g of granulated white sugar contains more calories versus 100g of honey. Remember that honey consists of about 17% water (water having no calories), whereas granulated white table sugar contains no water.

Per 100g, honey has 304 calories, whereas granulated sugar provides 387 calories per 100g.

Honey vs sugar: tables comparing calories

Granulated sugar is 100% carbohydrate derived from sugars.

Honey carbohydrate is also comprised almost entirely of sugars, but with 1 calorie provided by protein. However, the types of sugars inside honey are entirely different from those found in granulated table sugar.

Granulated sugar consists of 100% sucrose.

Honey consists of only about 1.5g of sucrose, and the rest is fructose and glucose.

This is particularly relevant if you are an athlete or are engaging in sport, due to the provision of both short and sustained energy provision. This is because  Glucose is absorbed quickly by the body, giving the body an immediate boost of energy. 

Meanwhile, the Fructose is absorbed more slowly, providing energy over a longer period.

Therefore, because honey contains high levels of both glucose and fructose, it may provide both an immediate and sustained energy boost to those engaging in sports, in relatively small quantities.

You can read a little more about this on my page ‘Calories in Honey’ – there’s a link at the bottom of this page.

Honey vs sugar: tables comparing carbohydrate

If you are dieting and wish to substitute honey for sugar as part of a calorie controlled diet, then honey may help to sustain your energy levels, and in theory, you won't need quite as much, because honey is sweeter – but I don’t advise you to eat a lot of it!  When you look at how many calories are in honey, the advantage over sugar is a modest one where dieters are concerned.

At the end of the day, honey still contains a lot of calories.  Just because this website is about bees, I don't think it is a good thing to try and sell to readers ideas about honey and nutrition that could be misleading!

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.

Vitamin Content Comparison of Honey vs White Sugar

Honey certainly contains some vitamins, whereas white sugar contains no vitamins at all. 

Honey provides 1% of your recommended Vitamin C, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Folate (a water-soluble B vitamin) and Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) requirement.

Honey vs sugar: tables comparing vitamins

However, it has to be said that the vitamin content in honey is not massive – for example, as stated, 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, I happened to look at the vitamin C content of an apple.  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, or you are needing to put on weight,  then honey is better for you.

……well, I said I wanted to put things in perspective! …… Now do read on!

Honey Vs Sugar For Protein and Amino Acids Content

Honey contains quality protein, albeit a very tiny amount, 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: tables comparing protein and amino acids

Honey Vs Sugar: Mineral Content Comparison

Sugar has very little mineral content.

100g of Honey is better, offering 1% of your daily calcium, potassium, zinc and selenium intake, 2% of your recommended daily iron  value, and 4% for manganese.   However, again these are small percentages of the daily recommended amount, and a lot of calories.

So yes, honey is healthier than white sugar in terms of minerals, but you will still need to find other sources of these minerals in additional foods. 

Honey vs sugar: tables comparing minerals

So, Honey vs Sugar - What’s the Conclusion?  Is Honey Better For You Than Sugar?

It seems that honey is more nutritious than white granulated sugar. If you are engaging in sports, then honey has benefits. (Don't forget to see my link 'Calories in Honey' below).

However, if it's vitamins & minerals you're after, then you may be better off looking to fruits and vegetables, because honey is very high in calories, and in order to get your daily requirement you'd have to eat a lot of it (and no doubt 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 use honey instead of sugar.

- Although sugar is made from plants and therefore starts off as a natural product, it is then refined and processed. However, there are organic, fairly traded versions available. There are also alternatives to honey, such as maple syrup.

- Most commonly, I think people replace sugar with honey in small quantities, not because of diet but because of taste.

- If you have diabetes, see this link.

- Of course, there are reputedly other health benefits of honey too, and many home remedies made from honey. Check this page to learn more.

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.  In some countries, the product sold as honey may not be pure honey, but a combination of corn syrup and honey, or it may be contaminated honey imported cheaply from overseas. 

As you can see, humans don't actually NEED honey, so if you are going to buy it, please try to support sustainable practices.  If possible, support a small scale local beekeeper who you trust. See Buying Honey.

The Honey And Apple Cider Vinegar Diet

Take a look at the science, and the recipe!

Worried about the taste?
Read further

Honey For Hair Masks

Read the recipes

Honey And Diabetes

Click Below To Read About

Beauty Benefits Of Honey

Are there really any health benefits of taking 'Bee Pollen', or is it just hype?


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!

What's the buzz about
Bee Venom?

Click Here

Find out more about the calories in honey and its use as a high energy food.

Learn more about honey and weight loss.

Learn more about the health benefits of honey.

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!

Link from Honey Vs Sugar to Home page

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