(Natural News) Cutting down on sugar is known to decrease the risk of diabetes and reduce weight. According to the U.S. dietary guidelines, eating less sugar helps people maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases. But honey, a pantry staple and popular substitute for white sugar, also contains sugars. In fact, it is 69 percent glucose and fructose, which are both fattening and can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. So is honey really healthy and why is it considered a safer alternative?
The difference between honey and refined sugar
Everyone knows where honey comes from: It is produced by bees from the nectar they collect from plants. The composition of honey depends mainly on the origin of the nectar and the environment their busy, buzzing makers live in. Honey comes in varying shades of gold, amber, and brown, with the dark variety being the most medicinal. Dark-colored honey is said to have high antibacterial and antioxidant activities. And while it is rich in nutrients, honey also contains large amounts of sugar.
Honey and white sugar are made of carbohydrates, specifically two sugar types: fructose and glucose. Fructose, in particular, is a common ingredient in artificial sweeteners. But what tips the healthy scale in favor of honey is the nature of these sugars. White sugar is basically refined sugar, while honey contains natural, unprocessed sugars. Refined sugars are quickly broken down inside the body and cause blood glucose levels to rise. They are also linked to obesity and some types of cancer.
In contrast, foods like honey provide essential nutrients that contribute to health and prevent diseases. Honey is also sweeter than white sugar, but it has a lower glycemic index. Although one tablespoon of honey has more calories — 64 g versus 49 g per tablespoon of white sugar — its natural sweetness allows it to be used in smaller quantities per serving so it still provides fewer calories than white sugar. Excess calories are stored by the body as fats, which leads to weight gain. So if you’re trying to lose weight but can’t do without sweeteners, honey is the best choice for you.
Honey: Nutritional facts and health benefits
For the past two centuries, honey has been considered a health food as well as medicine. Honey is widely used in Ayurvedic treatments and is known for its ability to treat infections and heal wounds. Today, it is added to foods and drinks to boost their health benefits. Here are some nutritional facts about honey and its scientifically proven health benefits.
One tablespoon of honey contains 17 g of carbohydrates. While it doesn’t have any fiber in it, it is rich in natural sugars that make it sweeter than ordinary sugar. Honey also contains vitamins, such as folate, choline, and vitamin C. Folate and choline are essential for DNA synthesis, while vitamin C is important for cellular growth, development, and repair. It is also a known antioxidant. Honey also contains minerals like calcium and potassium.
The following health benefits are associated with the consumption of high-quality, organic honey.
- It increases antioxidants in the blood.
- It reduces bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- It lowers blood pressure.
- It helps the arteries dilate and improves blood flow.
- It promotes wound healing.
- It alleviates coughs due to upper respiratory tract infections.
- It improves athletic performance and memory.
- It has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- It treats hair loss and skin inflammation.
Honey is a superfood packed with many benefits. However, excessive consumption even of healthy foods can bring unwanted consequences. If you wish to add honey to your diet, make sure to regulate the amount you consume per day. You can add a tablespoon of honey to your morning coffee, spread it on toast, or mix it with warm water and lemon. If you are diabetic, consult with your healthcare provider first.