In a sugar conscious world, it’s important to find alternatives. Honey is one such alternative, but is it really better for you than sugar? Here’s a short guide that can explain the differences between honey and sugar to determine if honey is superior to sugar.
White sugar is also known as refined sugar. It usually comes from 1 of 2 sources—sugar cane or sugar beets. The process of refining sugar strips it of its nutrients and has additives added to it to allow it to crystallize and keep for longer than other sweeteners.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sugar
The major advantages of sugar seem to be for the producers of sugar. It keeps longer—meaning it has a longer shelf life and is less likely to be wasted. Secondly, refined sugar produces a more attractive product—more likely to attract customers to purchase it.
However, according to its opponents, sugar has many disadvantages. It has been blamed for everything from diabetes to cancer. While many of the things sugar is blamed for may not be true, here are a few of the things sugar has been suggested to do:
- Decreases appetite
- Irritates the stomach and causes heartburn
- Causes diabetes
- Provides a quick, short burst of energy that leaves you worse off than before
- Raises insulin levels
- Weakens the immune system
- Increases the likelihood of depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and inability to concentrate
- Causes kidney damage
- Increases the likelihood of tooth decay
- Speeds up the aging process
- Causes cardiovascular disease and hypertension
- Worsens cancer
Proponents of honey over sugar say that honey is the world’s most natural sweetener. It is not produced by human hands, and therefore is believed by its supporters to be an ideal sweetener. Honey is produced by bees. They gather nectar from flowers and return it to the hive. There, the nectar is transformed into honey and stored in the hive for food over the winter. Honey has a long history of consumption by humans and is believed to be an older sweetener than sugar.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Honey
Like sugar, honey is a high calorie food. Pound for pound, it almost contains as many calories as sugar. However, the good news is that honey is sweeter than sugar, so you need less for the same amount of sweetness. Also, unlike sugar, which is virtually nutrient free, honey contains a small amount of nutrients. Some would say that this is a negligible amount and that consuming honey is no better off than consuming sugar.
Proponents of honey offer these benefits:
- Inclusion of healthy bacteria
- Helps to control blood sugar better than refined sugar does
- Can improve insulin resistance over that of refined sugar
- Helps to improve the immune system, particularly in cancer patients
- Contains antioxidants that help prevent free radicals
These benefits, as well as the nutrients it provides, are reduced or disappear altogether in processed honey. Raw honey is recommended. A downside to honey, however, is the likelihood of the a toxin that affects children under the age of 1.