Honey and sugar are both found in nature and have a remarkably similar chemical make-up. Both are carbohydrates, composed primarily of glucose and fructose, and are used to add sweetness to our food and beverages. Now that we know how they are the same, let us see how they stack up in comparison to answer the question: is honey better than sugar?.
The more complex a carbohydrate is, the longer it takes your body to break it down to use it for fuel. Sugar is half fructose and half glucose, mixed to form sucrose. It is broken down very easily, leading to an immediate surge in your blood sugar. Honey is made from about 30% glucose and 40% fructose. The rest consists of complex sugars that are much harder to break down compared to glucose, and so your body spends more energy on it and collects fewer calories.
When consumed in the same amount, honey gets absorbed slower and causes a lower blood-sugar spike.
Packed with calories – sugar comes from sugarcane plants and goes through multiple processing stages before arriving on our tabletops as the white grains of sweetness we are familiar with. It has no extra nutrients, even in trace amounts.
Honey, on the other hand, is collected by honeybees and contains amounts of nutrients from all the plants’ nectar. Honey has Vitamin C, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, and much more depending on where the bees were foraging and the nutritional compounds of the plants in that area. Raw honey like Manuka Honey is recognised as a complete food as it contains all the nutrients we need for good health.
Help with minor ailments
Honey can be added to several concoctions, including tea, smoothies, and tonics, to aid in your recovery against minor ailments such as cough, sore throat, and inflammation, and can even help in weight loss. Sugar is linked to increased inflammation and may result in infections worsening or lasting longer.
Sugar has a slightly higher GI and raises blood sugar levels faster than honey, and this might be of concern to diabetics. It is not as sweet as honey, and so to sweeten the same cup of tea you might need more sugar to get the job done. This is because honey is higher in fructose, which is sweeter than glucose. However, be wary of the fact that while honey is sweeter, it has a higher amount of calories per spoon, and so you must keep an eye on the amount you add to your food or beverage. As a guide to how much honey equals a teaspoon of sugar, where you would use a heaped teaspoon of sugar in your drink, and level or rounded teaspoon of honey would be a suitable replacement to give the same sweet effect.
How to replace sugar with honey
If cooking or baking with honey instead of sugar, you can use your favourite honey in approximately the same amount as processed or raw sugar up to about a cup, then slightly reduce the amount to 2/3 cup or 3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar beyond. This will help you to reduce sugar in recipes.
For drinks or smoothies, the sugar to honey conversion is purely a matter of taste. We have lots of recipe suggestions, all made with our delicious AB’s Honey varietals in the recipe section of our website.
Is honey better than sugar? The verdict
We are often asked, is honey healthier than sugar? The trace amounts of nutrients found in honey can make it more beneficial and a little healthier than regular table and processed sugars. In the end, the decision to replace sugar with honey comes down to personal preference – your lifestyle and nutritional needs.
The difference between calories is major consideration for people substituting honey with sugar for weight loss. Though honey is sweeter than sugar and less is required to get the same amount of sweetness, you do need to keep in mind the higher calorie concentration. Take care to not overuse honey under the belief that it is less likely to lead to weight gain.
AB’s Honey is a renowned name selling 100% pure honey produced by Australian beekeepers. You can explore our range of premium honey including Australian Manuka and table honey in our online shop, or buy direct from Brisbane City Markets (every Wednesday except public holidays and throughout January), or from our business premises in Capalaba, QLD.