• 30Jul

    Is honey healthier than sugar?

    Honey and sugar are used as sweetening agents. The difference lies in their method of production. Honey is a natural product made by bees and is a supersaturated sugar. It is collected from bee hives and packaged for human consumption. Sugar on the other hand is man-made. It is derived from sugar cane juice or beet root. The process of manufacturing sugar destroys vitamins, organic acids and nitrogen compounds. Honey also has many other beneficial properties which are not seen with sugar. 

    Honey versus table sugar

    Calories: When equal volume of both sugar and honey is compared, honey contains about 40% more calories. If consumed in small amounts it may not make any difference, but a regular consumption of larger amount of honey will add up more calories to your diet.

    Sugar composition: Table sugar is sucrose and it breaks down into glucose and fructose by the digestive enzymes. Honey contains enzymes like invertase and digestive acids which break down sucrose into glucose and fructose. Therefore we get preformed monosaccharide; they do not require further digestion after consumption. These simple sugars are absorbed directly. Honey contains about 40% fructose or fruit sugar. Though glycemic index of honey is lesser than table sugar, consumption of both is restricted in patients with diabetes as both can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.

    Honey vs sugar

    Honey is better choice than sugar.

    Immunity booster: Honey has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties and therefore boosts our ability to fight infections. These antioxidants include chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase and pinocembrin. Table sugar has none of these properties.

    Vitamins and minerals: Table sugar lacks vitamins and minerals, though small amount of these are present in honey. This little amount of vitamins and minerals is insufficient to meet our daily requirement.

    Health benefits of honey

    Honey is not just a sweetening agent but it also contains small amounts of proteins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, trace elements, vitamins, aromatic compounds and polyphenols. It has many positive nutritional and health effects, if consumed at a rate of 50 to 80 g daily. These health benefits are discussed below.

    Fights against infections: Honey has antibacterial effects because it contains certain natural ingredients. It is due to antioxidant action of hydrogen peroxide, its high acidity and due to antibacterial activity of bee defensin-1 and methylglyoxal. The pH of honey is between 3 and 4.5, and it prevents multiplication of bacteria. Honey also chelates any free iron in the wound which is otherwise responsible for free radical generation. These free radicals cause injury and inflammation. Honey has also been found effective in the presence of biofilm formed by certain bacteria. The osmotic effect also adds to its healing properties.

    Wound healing: When applied locally, it prevents infection of cuts and grazes. This occurs because of slow release of hydrogen peroxide that occurs when honey combines with body fluids in wound. It is also useful in diabetic foot ulcers. Honey has been shown to improve healing in mild burns. In these patients, it also reduces pain due to anti-inflammatory properties. It also results in lower incidence of hypertrophic scar and post burn contracture in burn wounds.

    Sore throat and cough: Honey lozenges are used as soothing agent in sore throat.

     Ant allergic: Honey has ant allergic properties. This is because it prevents activation of mast cells by immunoglobulins. Mast cell activation and release of chemical manifests with features of allergy and is prevented by honey.

    Scientific evidence: A study published in ‘Journal of medicinal food’ revealed that in comparison with sucrose, natural honey lowers plasma glucose, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic, and hyperlipidemic subjects.

    Honey and sugar are both sweet but honey has a lot of medicinal properties, which makes it a better choice than table sugar. Though honey is costlier, in the long run, if healthcare costs are also included, it may turn out to be cheaper.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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