We are often told that refined sugar is empty
calories and poison. But honey, on the other hand, is nutritious and healing, and therefore
a great substitute for sugar. This is pretty much a load of bunk. Nutritionally, honey
is not different enough from refined sugar to make any difference to your health at all.
Honey is a sweet syrup produced from the nectar of flowers by bees, and it’s meant as a food
source for the hive. Now, table sugar is sucrose, which is half glucose and half fructose. Honey
is a mixture of glucose, fructose, and a small amount of sucrose. A typical batch has of
around 40% fructose and 35% glucose, and 1 to 2% sucrose. Fructose actually tastes sweeter
than glucose. And since honey does contain a bit more fructose than sugar, it tastes
sweeter than sugar, and so that may mean that you can use less of it. So, honey does have
that advantage. I didn’t say it was bad. Honey also contains trace amounts of other types
of sugars, and moisture, and some minerals, and a bit of vitamins, and impurities, and
ash, and beeswax. And, there are also some enzymes and volatile oils, which give it a
lot of its unique flavor, but have no real impact on nutrition or health. The exact composition
of any batch of honey will vary, of course, depending on the flowers the bees used to
produce the honey. By the way, the fructose in honey is sometimes referred to as levulose
by the honey industry. Let’s look at this claim about honey’s great nutrition by examining
the nutrients in an average batch of honey. Let’s say we are using one tablespoon of honey.
That’s 3 teaspoons. For micronutrients, honey is heavier in minerals than vitamins. It contains
such trace amounts of vitamins: A tiny amount of vitamin C, and some trace b vitamins. They’re
not even worth discussing. So, let’s stick with the minerals. Honey can contain calcium.
OK. So, if you accept that you need around 1,000 to 1300 milligrams of calcium a day,
how many tablespoons of honey will you need to get, mmmm…a quarter of that, say, 300
milligrams. Well, you’d need to eat 300 tablespoons of honey. What about an eighth of your calcium
for the day? Still need a 150 tablespoons. Now let’s try potassium. Honey is actually
a better source of potassium than calcium. A tablespoon might contain up to 11 milligrams.
There is no agreed upon intake level for potassium but a reasonable estimate is around 1600 to
2000 milligrams a day. That is still a lot of honey. To get a quarter of your potassium
you’d need about 36 tablespoons. But, it’s more illustrative to compare. So,how about
orange juice? A tablespoon of orange juice contains about 31 milligrams of potassium.
And an 8 ounce glass has almost 500 milligrams. Would you drink an 8 ounce glass of honey?
And, a tablespoon of yogurt…uh, whole milk yogurt…has twice as much potassium. Again,
you wouldn’t eat a tub of honey. As for other minerals, there are only paltry amounts. There
is this halo effect associated with “natural” sweeteners like honey, but as for as your
body is concerned, there just is no real significant difference between honey and white sugar.
Sure, some nutrients are better than no nutrients, but if you consume a whole lot of honey in
hopes that its magical nutritional properties will enhance your health, it will be just
as if you consumed the same amount of plain sugar.