Honey nutrition facts, calories and carbs per 100g and serving size
Honey surprisingly consists of only 20 percent of water and about 80 percent of carbs. This makes honey a higher-than-average calorie product. 100 grams of honey contains 304 calories.
Having said that, in comparison to granulated sugar, honey contains less water and therefore more calories (384 calories per 100 grams). Foods like peanut butter contain almost twice as many calories as honey (600 calories per 100 grams).
We compared honey to all foods in our database and found out that it is in the top 29% percent of foods that are high in calories. So 71% of foods contain fewer calories than honey does.
Calories per serving size
It should be noted that while honey is a higher-than-average calorie product, it is usually consumed in quantities smaller than 100 grams. To illustrate, a tablespoon contains roughly 21 grams of honey and 64 calories accordingly. A teaspoon of honey contains 21 calories only.
Summary table and burning estimates
Have a look at the summary table below.
Walking minutes to burn the calories (70kg person)
~ 1 hour
1 tablespoon - 21 grams
1 teaspoon - 7 grams
In the last column, we have included the number of minutes a 70kg person should walk to burn those calories. The calculations are based on a method called MET. It is defined as the Metabolic Equivalent of a Task.
MET helps to calculate how many calories would a person weighing “X” kg burn in a certain duration of a specific workout. In addition to that, it can also calculate how much weight that person would lose. All these values are averaged and calculated in a way to visualize the numbers better. (1) (2)
Applying this equation on honey, we would get these results as follows.
For a 70kg person while practicing different types of sports, how much time do we need to work out to burn 64 calories (1 tablespoon of honey)?
1 tablespoon of honey - 70kg person
The same for a 100kg person would look different, and this is the importance of this tool.
1 tablespoon of honey - 100kg person
Honey nutrition infographic
Mineral chart - relative view
Vitamin chart - relative view
Protein quality breakdown
Carbohydrate type breakdown
Fiber content ratio for Honey
All nutrients for Honey per 100g
10 Surprising Health Benefits of Honey
Since ancient times, honey has been used as both a food and a medicine.
It’s very high in beneficial plant compounds and offers several health benefits. Honey is particularly healthy when used instead of refined sugar, which is 100% empty calories.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of honey.
1. Honey Contains Some Nutrients
Honey is a sweet, thick liquid made by honeybees.
The bees collect sugar — mainly the sugar-rich nectar of flowers — from their environment (1).
Once inside the beehive, they repeatedly consume, digest and regurgitate the nectar.
The end product is honey, a liquid that serves as stored food for bees. The smell, color and taste depend on the types of flowers visited.
Nutritionally, 1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar, including fructose, glucose, maltose and sucrose.
It contains virtually no fiber, fat or protein (2).
It also contains trace amounts — under 1% of the RDI — of several vitamins and minerals, but you would have to eat many pounds to fulfill your daily requirements.
Where honey shines is in its content of bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. Darker types tend to be even higher in these compounds than lighter types (, 4).
Honey is thick, sweet liquid made by
honeybees. It is low in vitamins and minerals but may be
high in some plant compounds.
2. High-Quality Honey Is Rich in Antioxidants
High-quality honey contains many important antioxidants. These include organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids ().
Scientists believe that the combination of these compounds gives honey its antioxidant power ().
Interestingly, two studies have shown that buckwheat honey increases the antioxidant value of your blood (, ).
Antioxidants have been linked to reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer. They may also promote eye health ().
Summary Honey contains a number of antioxidants, including phenolic
compounds like flavonoids.
3. Honey Is “Less Bad” Than Sugar for Diabetics
The evidence on honey and diabetes is mixed.
On one hand, it can reduce several risk factors for heart disease common in people with type 2 diabetes.
For example, it may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammation while raising “good” HDL cholesterol (, , ).
However, some studies have found that it can also increase blood sugar levels — just not as much as refined sugar ().
While honey may be slightly better than refined sugar for people with diabetes, it should still be consumed with caution.
In fact, people with diabetes may do best by minimizing all high-carb foods ().
Keep in mind, too, that certain types of honey may be adulterated with plain syrup. Although honey adulteration is illegal in most countries, it remains a widespread problem ().
Some studies show that honey improves heart
disease risk factors in people with diabetes. However, it also raises blood
sugar levels — so it cannot be considered
healthy for people with diabetes.
4. The Antioxidants in It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is an important risk factor for heart disease, and honey may help lower it.
This is because it contains antioxidant compounds that have been linked to lower blood pressure ().
Studies in both rats and humans have shown modest reductions in blood pressure from consuming honey (, ).
Eating honey may lead to modest reductions in
blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease.
5. Honey Also Helps Improve Cholesterol
High LDL cholesterol levels is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
This type of cholesterol plays a major role in atherosclerosis, the fatty buildup in your arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Interestingly, several studies show that honey may improve your cholesterol levels.
It reduces total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while significantly raising “good” HDL cholesterol (, , , ).
For example, one study in 55 patients compared honey to table sugar and found that honey caused a 5.8% reduction in LDL and a 3.3% increase in HDL cholesterol. It also led to modest weight loss of 1.3% ().
Honey seems to have a positive effect on
cholesterol levels. It leads to modest reductions in total and “bad” LDL
cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.
6. Honey Can Lower Triglycerides
Elevated blood triglycerides are another risk factor for heart disease.
They are also associated with insulin resistance, a major driver of type 2 diabetes.
Triglyceride levels tend to increase on a diet high in sugar and refined carbs.
Interestingly, multiple studies have linked regular honey consumption with lower triglyceride levels, especially when it is used to replace sugar (, , , ).
For example, one study comparing honey and sugar found 11–19% lower triglyceride levels in the honey group ().
Elevated triglycerides are a risk factor for
heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Several studies show that honey can lower
triglyceride levels, especially when used as a sugar substitute.
7. The Antioxidants in It Are Linked to Other Beneficial Effects on Heart Health
Again, honey is a rich source of phenols and other antioxidant compounds. Many of these have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease ().
They may help the arteries in your heart dilate, increasing blood flow to your heart. They may also help prevent blood clot formation, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes ().
Furthermore, one study in rats showed that honey protected the heart from oxidative stress ().
All told, there is no long-term human study available on honey and heart health. Take these results with a grain of salt.
The antioxidants in honey have been linked to
beneficial effects on heart health, including increased blood flow to your
heart and a reduced risk of blood clot formation.
8. Honey Promotes Burn and Wound Healing
Topical honey treatment has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt and is still common today.
A review of 26 studies on honey and wound care found honey most effective at healing partial-thickness burns and wounds that have become infected after surgery ().
Honey is also an effective treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, which are serious complications that can lead to amputation (, ).
One study reported a 43.3% success rate with honey as a wound treatment. In another study, topical honey healed a whopping 97% of patients’ diabetic ulcers (, ).
Researchers believe that honey’s healing powers come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects as well as its ability to nourish surrounding tissue ().
What’s more, it can help treat other skin conditions, including psoriasis and herpes lesions (, ).
Manuka honey is considered especially effective for treating burn wounds ().
When applied to the skin, honey can be part of
an effective treatment plan for burns, wounds and many other skin conditions.
It is particularly effective for diabetic foot ulcers.
9. Honey Can Help Suppress Coughs in Children
Coughing is a common problem for children with upper respiratory infections.
These infections can affect sleep and quality of life for both children and parents.
However, mainstream medications for cough are not always effective and can have side effects. Interestingly, honey may be a better choice, and evidence indicates it is very effective (, ).
One study found that honey worked better than two common cough medications ().
Another study found that it reduced cough symptoms and improved sleep more than cough medication ().
Nevertheless, honey should never be given to children under one year of age due to the risk for botulism ().
For children over one year of age, honey can
act as a natural and safe cough suppressant. Some studies show that it is even
more effective than cough medicine.
10. It’s Delicious, But Still High in Calories and Sugar
Honey is a delicious, healthier alternative to sugar.
Make sure to choose a high-quality brand, because some lower-quality ones may be mixed with syrup.
Keep in mind that honey should only be consumed in moderation, as it is still high in calories and sugar.
The benefits of honey are most pronounced when it is replacing another, unhealthier sweetener.
At the end of the day, honey is simply a “less bad” sweetener than sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
Honey Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Honey may seem like a mystical natural health-food, but the truth is, honey is still a concentrated source of sugar. When used in moderation, honey can complement an otherwise healthy eating plan and offer some intriguing benefits. However, honey is not a food that should be overused, especially if you have diabetes. Here's the latest buzz on honey's nutrition facts and scientific research.
Honey Nutrition Facts
The USDA provides the following information for 1 tablespoon (21 grams) of 100% pure bee honey.
- Calories: 64
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Carbohydrates: 17g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 17g
- Protein: 0g
The calories in honey come from carbohydrates, specifically sugar. The sugar in honey is about 50% glucose and 50% fructose. The glycemic index of honey depends on the type that you buy, but sources estimate it to be around 58 with a glycemic load of 12. For comparison, the glycemic index of table sugar (sucrose) is 65.
There is no fat in honey.
Honey contains trace amounts of protein depending upon the product (up to 0.06g in some honey products), but not enough to contribute to your daily protein requirements.
Vitamins and Minerals
The vitamins and minerals in honey may include B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, and others, which are mainly derived from the soil and nectar‐producing plants. The quality of honey and its mineral content are determined by where it is grown and how it is processed. Generally, darker honey provides more beneficial vitamins and minerals than pale honey.
Certain varieties of honey have been shown to offer promising healing powers. When applying these characteristics to everyday life, it's important to balance the purported health benefits versus the nutritional cost (high sugar content) of honey.
Soothes a Cough
Research suggests honey can help calm a cough. A review of six studies treating coughs in children found that a spoonful of honey suppresses a cough as well as dextromethorphan—the cough suppressant found in Robitussin DM—and better than Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or no treatment. The research also found honey may provide longer relief than Albuterol (salbutamol).
Studies have demonstrated honey's positive impact on the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When taken on an empty stomach, raw Manuka honey soothes the stomach and reduces diarrhea and constipation symptoms. Honey reduces the severity and duration of viral diarrhea better than conventional antiviral treatment.
Supports Reproductive Health
A type of honey, called royal jelly, has numerous effects on female reproductive health. Royal jelly has been found to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms. The antioxidants in royal jelly may help reduce oxidative damage associated with the aging of the ovaries. Preliminary animal studies also suggest that royal jelly improves sperm quality for men, and although promising, this effect has yet to be proven in humans.
Aids Wound Healing
Propolis, a component in honey, is made up of 50% resin, 30% wax, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen, and 5% other organic compounds. Propolis suppresses the activity of free radicals and promotes the synthesis of collagen, both beneficial for wound healing. The ability of propolis to promote wound healing is proven effective for diabetic foot ulcers and certain types of acne when used topically.
Reduces Risk of Cancer
Honey impacts the development of cancer during multiple stages of the progression of the disease. Honey has been shown to induce tumor cell apoptosis (cell death), reduce inflammation, and inhibit tumor growth. Although honey is not an effective treatment for cancer in itself, preliminary studies suggest the need for further investigation.
Honey is not a common allergen, however, case studies showing anaphylaxis have been reported. Anaphylaxis from the consumption of honey is an IgE-mediated reaction (a true food allergy). Propolis has been documented as a contact allergen for those involved in the collection of honey. If you suspect an allergy to honey, see your healthcare provider for a full evaluation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to never give honey to babies during the first year of life as it is a potential source of botulism-causing spores which can lead to severe illness in young babies.
If you are on a low-sugar or low-carbohydrate eating plan for medical reasons, you should limit your intake of honey. Honey is almost pure sugar (carbohydrates). Despite its associated health benefits, honey still raises blood glucose levels and should be accounted for when considering total carbohydrate intake.
There are more than 300 varieties of honey in the United States, each originating from unique flower sources or different climate conditions. Examples include clover honey, wildflower honey, orange blossom honey, buckwheat honey, avocado honey, and alfalfa honey. Honey purchased from the store may be raw or pasteurized.
- Raw honey comes directly from the beehive and is not processed, heated, or pasteurized.
- Pasteurized honey is filtered and processed to create a clear-looking product that is easier to package and pour.
Pasteurization may eliminate some of the trace minerals associated with honey's health benefits. If the food label specifies "pure honey," that means no other substances were added during food processing.
When It's Best
For maximum nutrition, choose raw honey from the local farmer's market. If you enjoy the taste of honey, go for the darker varieties, which have a stronger flavor, allowing you to use less of it for the same taste effect. Honey can be found at any time of the year packaged in glass or plastic bottles.
Storage and Food Safety
Raw and processed honey should be stored below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent crystallization and color/aroma changes. Honey is naturally antimicrobial but should be protected from outside moisture. The general recommendation for the shelf-life of honey is two years, however, this can vary. Airtight, sanitized containers help preserve the shelf-life and safety of honey.
How to Prepare
Honey is a versatile sweetener so there are countless ways to use it in the kitchen. However, some cooks struggle when they cook with honey because it can be messy. If you buy a jar of honey (as opposed to a squeeze bottle) spooning honey onto food can be a challenge. Savvy experts recommend that you spray your spoon or measuring cup with cooking spray first so that the honey slides off with no mess and no fuss.
When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, it's important to remember that honey has a stronger flavor, greater acidity, and higher moisture content than sugar. Baking experts recommend using 1/2 to 3/4 cup of honey for each cup of sugar in the recipe, and also reducing the liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of sugar replaced. In addition, if the recipe does not already include baking soda, add 1/4 teaspoon for each cup of sugar replaced. You should also lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and watch carefully for doneness.
Healthy Honey Recipes to Try
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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Honey. FoodData Central. 2019.
Cianciosi D, Forbes-Hernández TY, Afrin S, et al. Phenolic Compounds in Honey and Their Associated Health Benefits: A Review. Molecules. 2018;23(9):2322. doi:10.3390/molecules23092322
Oduwole O, Udoh EE, Oyo-Ita A, Meremikwu MM. Honey for acute cough in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;4:CD007094. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007094.pub5
Pasupuleti VR, Sammugam L, Ramesh N, Gan SH. Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:1259510. doi:10.1155/2017/1259510
Aguiar R, Duarte FC, Mendes A, Bartolomé B, Barbosa MP. Anaphylaxis caused by honey: A case report. Asia Pac Allergy. 2017;7(1):48-50. doi:10.5415/apallergy.2017.7.1.48
American Academy of Pediatrics. Botulism. HealthyChildren.org. Updated November 19, 2018.
National Honey Board. Honey Varietals. 2020.
Calories in Honey
Below, you'll find a summary of the calories in honey by measurement, followed by tables comparing honey with sugar, maple syrup and light corn syrup, and a look at the composition of the carbohydrate type in each.
The calories in honey may be of interest, either because you’re on a low calorie diet, or because you are looking for a high energy, but natural, low fat food.
Honey, Dieting And Sport
The amount of energy (kJ) provided by foods is a key consideration for both dieters and sports people.
Hence the reason for also breaking down the calories provided by carbohydrate type, and in particular, sugar type.
It is generally asserted that carbohydrate intake before, during ad after exercise provides a boost to performance.
It is also believed that the energy provided by different sugars affects the body in diverse ways. Glucose is absorbed quickly, giving the body an immediate boost of energy.
Fructose, however, has a slower rate of absorption. 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.
With regard to dieting, it should be noted that simply replacing large quantities of sugar with honey is unlikely to help, because as you will see, although it helps sustain energy levels, it is very high in calories. That said, there are some diets, such as the apple cider vinegar and honey diet.
Summary Of Calories In Honey By Measurement:
Calories in 100g of honey: 304
Calories in 1 tablespoon of honey (1 tbsp = 21 g): 64
Calories in 1 ounce of honey (1 oz = 28g): 85
Calories in a teaspoon of honey (1 tsp = 5g): 15.2
Below are comparison tables of calories and carbohydrate in honey, sugar, maple syrup and light corn syrup.
Where the information is available, I have also expressed the number of calories as Percentage of Daily Value (%DV) for adults or children aged 4 or older, and based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet.
- For ease of comparison, what you see below is the calories in 100g of each.
- The sugar in all the tables below is granulated white sugar (sucrose) and values may be different for other types of sugar.
- Honey values may differ slightly from those shown below due to natural variations in the product.
Calories in honey - comparison with sugar, maple syrup and light corn syrup
Light Corn Syrup
Calories in honey, sugar, maple syrup and light corn syrup by calorie type
It's not a surprise that almost all the calories from these sweeteners comes from carbohydrate:
Light Corn Syrup
Break down of carbohydrate and sugar type in honey, granulated sugar, maple syrup and light corn syrup
Amounts present in a 100g serving:
* In the case of Light Corn Syrup, there may be variations depending on blend and brand, and hence the values here have not been split.
For more links of interest:
Is Honey Good For You?
Source Of Data And Further information: Nutrition Data
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All About the Nutrition and Calories in Honey vs. Sugar
Image Credit: Christian-Fischer/iStock/GettyImages
Honey and sugar are very similar in that they are both natural sweeteners. Honey is produced by bees and is a result of the nectar they collect from flowers, while sugar is a product from sugar cane or beet plants.
Honey's color can range from pale beige to medium and dark amber with corresponding flavor ranges from mild to strong and bold, depending on the type of flower that the bee collected its nectar from.
Nutrition and Calories in Honey
All of the calories in honey come from sugar, which is a type of carb. There is no fat, saturated or otherwise, in honey, according to the USDA.
1 Teaspoon of Honey
- 12 calories
- 0 g fat
- 3.3 g carbs
- 3.3 g sugar
- 0 g protein
1 Tablespoon of Honey
- 64 calories
- 0 g fat
- 17.3 g carbs
- 17.2 g sugar
- 0.1 g protein
1 Cup of Honey
- 1,031 calories
- 0 g fat
- 279.3 g carbs
- 278.4 g sugar
- 1 g protein
Nutrition and Calories in Sugar
All of the calories in sugar come from sugar, which is a type of carb. There is no fat, saturated or otherwise, in sugar, according to the USDA.
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1 Teaspoon of Sugar
- 16 calories
- 0 g fat
- 4.2 g carbs
- 4.2 g sugar
- 0 g protein
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
- 55 calories
- 0 g fat
- 14.2 g carbs
- 14.1 g sugar
- 0 g protein
1 Cup of Sugar
- 774 calories
- 0 g fat
- 200 g carbs
- 199.6 g sugar
- 0 g protein
Honey vs. Sugar: Which Is the Better Sweetener?
Honey contains 24 fewer calories per ounce than sugar, making it one of the best sugar substitutes for calorie counters. Honey is also favored on account of its nutrient content.
One ounce of honey contains 1 percent of the recommended daily value of iron, riboflavin, manganese and copper, while sugar contains no vitamins or minerals.
How Many Calories in a Teaspoon of Honey?
There are 21.27 calories in a teaspoon of regular honey and 20 calories in a teaspoon of raw honey.
Image Credit: yanjf/iStock/GettyImages
If you have a sweet tooth and want to watch your weight, you may wonder about the amount of calories in honey. A look at this natural sweetener's nutrition, impact on health and potential benefits can help you decide whether to include it in your diet.
There are 21.27 calories in a teaspoon of regular honey and 20 calories in a teaspoon of raw honey.
Nutrition and Calories in Honey
Before adding this sweetener to your diet, consider the calories in honey. According to the USDA, there are 63.8 calories in a tablespoon of regular, or processed, honey.
Since there are three teaspoons in every tablespoon, this works out to just over 21 calories per teaspoon of this sticky sweetener. Honey also contains 17.3 grams of carbohydrates and 17.2 grams of sugar per tablespoon, which is nearly six grams of each per teaspoon.
The USDA reports that raw honey has a similar nutritional profile. There are 60 calories in each tablespoon of raw honey or 20 calories per teaspoon. Raw honey has 17 grams of carbohydrates and 16 grams of sugar per tablespoon.
If you're using one teaspoon of honey, you can work it into your daily calorie count with ease. However, you may need to measure your honey to ensure you stay on track carefully. People all need different amounts of calories based on their goals, activity levels, age, sex and other factors.
Benefits of Honey
There are about 320 different types of honey to satisfy your sweet tooth. While the calories in honey remain about the same, they may contain varying levels of things such as:
- Amino acids
Researchers have looked into how this sweetener may hold properties that fight bacteria, inflammation and free radicals. However, it's important to note that research about honey is difficult to standardize because of the nature of its production. So far, some research has suggested that honey can help:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Promote healing in some wounds, especially burns
- Suppress coughing in people with respiratory infections
- Fight depression, anxiety and convulsions
- Relieve some symptoms associated with gastroenteritis
While the uses of honey may be plentiful, never give this substance to infants under one year of age. Even the smallest amount of honey can put babies at risk of botulism. Both raw and processed honey pose this threat.
Honey vs Other Sweeteners
While there may be many benefits of honey in the morning cup of tea, it's important to weigh it against other sweeteners. If you're watching your carbohydrate and sugar intake, you may think about choosing artificial sweeteners instead of honey. The primary forms of artificial sweeteners are sucralose, Splenda and aspartame.
Because artificial sweeteners have no calories or carbohydrates, the Mayo Clinic reports that they may be good choices for people with diabetes. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets acceptable daily intake limits on these sweeteners and does not recommend them for people with phenylketonuria.
If you plan on using honey to replace table sugar, you may find little or no benefit when it comes to blood sugar and weight loss. The Mayo Clinic reports that honey is sweeter than table sugar, so people may use less in some cases. However, since honey has more calories per teaspoon than sugar, you may not benefit much.
You will also like:
Is honey better for you than sugar?
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Honey and sugar are two of the most commonly used sweeteners. Honey is often regarded as the more healthful option, but is this really the case?
Both honey and sugar add sweetness to meals and snacks. However, they have different tastes, textures, and nutritional profiles.
This article explores the benefits and disadvantages of both honey and sugar for health and diet.
Similarities and differences
Honey and sugar are both carbohydrates, consisting of the two types of sugar: glucose and fructose.
Refined fructose, which is found in sweeteners, is metabolized by the liver and has been associated with:
Both fructose and glucose are broken down quickly by the body and can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
The proportions of glucose and fructose in honey and sugar are different:
- sugar is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose
- honey contains 40 percent fructose and 30 percent glucose
The remainder of honey consists of:
These additional components may be responsible for some of the health benefits of honey.
Sugar is higher on the glycemic index (GI) than honey, meaning it raises blood sugar levels more quickly. This is due to its higher fructose content, and the absence of trace minerals.
But honey has slightly more calories than sugar, although it is sweeter, so less may be required. Both sweeteners can lead to weight gain if overused.
Benefits of honey
Honey has been used since ancient times as both a sweetener and medicine.
It is a viscous liquid produced by honeybees and ranges in color from straw yellow to dark brown. The bees collect nectar from flowers and mix it with enzymes to form honey before storing it in honeycomb cells to keep it fresh.
Honey is associated with several benefits:
More nutrients and less processed than sugar
Honey varies in its nutritional composition based on the origin of the nectar used to make it. In general, it contains trace amounts of local pollen along with other substances, such as:
Some research indicates that dark honey has more antioxidants than light honey.
Also, honey is less processed than sugar as it is usually only pasteurized before use. Raw honey is also edible and contains more antioxidants and enzymes than pasteurized varieties.
Some research suggests that honey is a natural way to ease a cough in children.
A found that children with bronchitis who were given dark honey experienced greater symptom relief than those taking a placebo. However, the benefits were small.
More recent suggests that honey is better than no treatment at all for a cough, although some medications provide greater symptom relief.
Anecdotal reports indicate that locally-produced honey may help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. However, clinical studies have not demonstrated this consistently.
One study published in 2011, found that people with birch pollen allergy, who took birch pollen honey, experienced:
- a 60 percent reduction in symptoms
- 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms
- twice as many days without symptoms
They were also able to reduce their antihistamine intake by 50 percent compared to the control group.
These benefits may have been compounded by honey’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Also, one treatment for allergies is to desensitize the body to reactions by repeatedly introducing small amounts of allergens. In line with this, local honey may contain traces of the pollens that cause seasonal allergies.
Honey has shown benefits when applied topically, as it has antimicrobial properties:
- Wound healing: suggests that honey offers considerable benefits in the natural and safe treatment of chronic wounds, ulcers, and burns.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: Raw honey was to markedly improve seborrheic dermatitis, which is an itchy and flaky scalp condition. Weekly application of honey also reduced hair loss associated with the condition and prevented relapses among study participants.
Easier to digest
Honey may be easier than sugar on the digestive system.
Due to its composition, regular sugar has to be ingested before being broken down. As bees add enzymes to honey, the sugars are already partially broken down, making it easier to digest.
A variety of honey products are available for purchase online.
Disadvantages and risks of honey
Some of the most common disadvantages and risks associated with honey include:
High calorie count
One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, which is higher than that of sugar at 49 calories per tablespoon.
Risk of infant botulism
It is not safe to give honey to infants younger than 12 months. Honey’s bacterial spores can cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially life-threatening disease.
The spores that cause botulism in infants are harmless in older children and adults. Symptoms of infant botulism include:
Impact on blood sugar and risk of illness
Honey has similar effects as sugar on blood glucose levels. This is especially problematic for people with diabetes and insulin resistance.
Too much honey can lead to blood sugar issues in healthy people too, increasing the risk of:
Benefits of sugar
Sugar comes from sugarcane or sugar beet. Although it is derived from natural substances, sugar needs a lot of processing before it becomes the finalized product.
There are several different types of sugar including:
All these forms of sugar comprise glucose and fructose, which bond to form the sugar known as sucrose.
Sugar has no added nutrients. However, brown sugar, which is a blend of white sugar and the byproduct of sugar manufacturing known as molasses, may have some trace minerals.
The main benefits associated with sugar use include:
Lower in calories than honey
Sugar contains 49 calories per tablespoon, while honey has 64. However, honey is sweeter than sugar, so less may be needed to achieve the same sweetness.
Low-cost and long shelf life
Sugar is cheap, easily accessible, and has a long shelf life. It also makes many foods more palatable, and so, it is an attractive store cupboard staple.
Disadvantages and risks of sugar
There are some disadvantages and risks associated with sugar consumption.
Higher on the glycemic index than honey
Sugar can spike blood glucose levels faster than honey. This leads to a quick spurt of energy, followed by a sharp decline characterized by tiredness, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.
Increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
Weight gain and obesity are associated with high sugar consumption, increasing the risk of illness.
More problems for the liver
Since the liver must metabolize refined fructose, issues relating to liver function may occur with high sugar intake. These include:
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- cholesterol management
Dental caries or cavities develop faster and in more teeth with a high sugar diet.
This is true for everyone. Sugar should be avoided to reduce the risk of cavities.
Changes in gut bacteria
A high sugar diet is associated with less healthy and gut bacteria diversity. It may also increase the risk of chronic diseases.
More difficult to digest than honey
As previously said, sugar does not contain the enzymes that honey does, so is more difficult to digest.
Which is best?
It is possible to consume too much of both honey and sugar. The risks of overconsumption are the same for both, as well. The main concerns are:
- weight gain
- increased risk of illness
- blood sugar peaks and crashes
- increased risk of tooth decay
Therefore, both products should be used in moderation or not at all. While honey does have some health benefits, they are mostly observed when used in response to specific issues, such as a cough or allergies, or when used topically, which does not affect blood sugar levels.
If opting for honey over sugar, choose dark, raw varieties, which contain more nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants.
The (AHA) suggest that women consume no more than 100 calories a day from sugar (approximately 6 teaspoons) and men have no more than 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons).
It is important to note these amounts take into account sugars already added to processed and pre-packaged foods, as well as all types of sugars, including honey and syrups.
Tips for cutting down on sugar and honey intake include:
- Cut portions in half: Use a half spoon of honey or sugar in drinks and on cereals instead of a full spoon.
- Reduce sugar in baking by one-third: This reduces intake without having a big impact on flavor or texture.
- Use extracts or sweet spices: Extracts such as almond or vanilla can provide a sweet flavor to smoothies or baked goods without increasing sugar intake. Ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg are examples of sweet spices that can add sweetness without calories.
- Substitute unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana: These natural fruit purees can be substituted for sugar in equal amounts in baking and other recipes.
- Satisfy sweet cravings with fruit: Fresh berries, bananas, mango, and other fruits can satisfy a sweet tooth without the need to turn to sugar. Fruit canned in water is also a good choice. Avoid fruit canned in syrup.
Alternative sweeteners are not recommended to reduce sugar intake. These are known as non-nutritive sweeteners.
Examples include aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. Though the FDA reports these sweeteners are safe to use, recent research reveals they can:
- increase sugar cravings
- cause disruption to gut bacteria
- indirectly affect insulin sensitivity