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Nutrition and Health : Honey or Sugar for a healthy diet

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Nutrition and Health : Honey or Sugar for a healthy diet

As dietary advice leans towards reducing free sugar intake, many are turning to honey as an alternative. But is honey truly a healthier choice, or is it just another form of sugar ? Capmad sheds light on this nutritional debate.

Honey offers nutritional advantages over sugar

Honey is primarily composed of approximately 40 % fructose, 30 % glucose, water, and in its raw form, trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. However, these nutrients are minimal.

Honey is sweeter than table sugar and has a moderate glycemic index (GI) of around 55, varying slightly depending on its fructose content. Despite its nutritional profile, honey is calorie-dense and can raise blood sugar levels significantly when consumed in large quantities.

Raw honey retains antioxidants and micronutrients, but commercially processed honey undergoes filtration and heating to prevent crystallization and microbial growth. While this improves shelf life and appearance, it diminishes honey’s beneficial components.

One tablespoon (20 g) of honey provides :

  • 58 kcal / 246 kJ
  • 15.3 g of carbohydrates
  • 0.1 g of protein
  • 0 g of fat

Honey is beneficial for everyone

The health benefits of honey depend on its processing and the floral sources bees collect pollen from. Raw honey, untouched by heating or filtering, retains more nutrients beneficial to health.

For commercially available honey, darker varieties are preferred as they typically contain higher levels of plant compounds like flavonoids. These compounds offer antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic properties.

Honey is healthier than Sugar

Honey boasts a lower glycemic index (GI) compared to sugar, which means it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as rapidly. It’s also sweeter than sugar, allowing you to use less of it. However, honey contains slightly more calories per teaspoon, so portion control is important.

For diabetics or those managing blood sugar levels, replacing sugar with honey doesn’t offer significant advantages as both affect blood glucose similarly. Both honey and sugar are categorized as « free sugars, » which health guidelines recommend reducing.

Choosing raw and darker varieties of honey ensures you benefit from vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds. As with any sweetener, moderation is key to maintaining a balanced diet.

Using Honey in cooking : Tips for success

Honey is a versatile sweetener that can substitute for white cane sugar in baking, beverages, and sauces. It works particularly well in moist and dense pastries, adding depth of flavor.

Because honey is sweeter than sugar and a liquid, adjust recipes by using less honey and reducing other liquids. Honey caramelizes quicker than sugar, resulting in a darker color and distinct taste.

Most honey is pasteurized, but raw honey is available from local beekeepers and retains more beneficial nutrients. Darker honey varieties offer stronger flavors. If honey crystallizes, gently heat the jar in warm water to restore its liquid state.

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