Honey vs Sugar - which is healthier? Both can be used as sweeteners to enhance your food, but when it comes to which one is better for you, we would definitely side with the bees on this one. Here's our list of 5 reasons why you should have honey in your cupboard, instead of sugar.
Eating foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI index) – meaning they cause a quick spike in blood sugar – often causes us to have a rapid burst of energy followed by a crash. If eaten too often, high GI foods put us at risk for health issues such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. We’ve all heard that sugar causes your blood sugar to spike, but what about honey?
Honey is made largely of sugars, so it will raise your blood sugar levels (as most sweeteners due) – but not to the extent that plain table sugar does.This is because table sugar is made of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, making it a pure, simple carbohydrate that will be absorbed quickly by the body, causing a spike in blood sugar. Although honey also consists of glucose and fructose, these sugars only make up about 30 and 40 percent of honey, respectively. As a result, honey is more of a complex sugar, which means the body will need more time to break it down and metabolize it, resulting in slower absorption into the bloodstream – and ultimately a lower GI index rating. Specifically, honey can measure anywhere from 45 to around 61 on the glycemic index while sugar comes in at 65.
Honey has been used for its medical benefits for thousands of years, and for good reason. Every type of honey is antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral. Its infection-fighting power comes from its anti-inflammatory properties, its acidity, and its bacteriostatic and bactericidal factors such as hydrogen peroxide, antioxidants, and bee peptides. For these reasons, honey is fantastic at speeding up wound healing – and the best part is that, so far, no bacterial resistance to honey has been found. This might make it a promising treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections in the future. Its soothing and antimicrobial properties definitely make it nice to have when you’re in a pinch!
If anybody is as annoyed as I am by the fact that there is still no cure for the common cold, you’ll be relieved to know that honey is massively helpful for reducing symptoms. A study published by the 2012 Pediatrics Journal found that a persistent cough could be alleviated by only two teaspoons of honey, which helped sick kids get a better night’s sleep when taken before bed. The honey helps coat the throat, while the honey’s sweetness is thought to stimulate nerve endings that protect from non-stop coughing. Some studies have found that honey was just as effective as dextromethorphan (a common ingredient in cough suppressants) at relieving coughs.
Many people report that local honey has decreased the symptoms that usually come with their seasonal allergies. The effect of honey on allergies hasn’t been extensively studied, so there’s no clear evidence that it can relieve symptoms – but the idea that it might isn’t so crazy.
The most common theory is that, because honey often contains some pollen, it may act as a natural vaccination against allergies. The idea is that the tiny bit of pollen in the honey triggers an immune response in the body that creates antibodies against the pollen. With frequent ingestion of the honey, the antibodies slowly build up and reduce the amount of histamine (the chemical that causes the runny nose and itchy eyes) that is released in response to the allergen, diminishing allergy symptoms.
While the effects of honey on seasonal allergies needs to be studied more extensively, we know for sure that honey has anti-inflammatory components and helps soothe irritated throats and coughs, which is especially helpful for those of us who suffer from post-nasal drip and tickly throats at the hands of our allergies - so whether or not it has benefits specifically for seasonal allergies, it’s sure to offer some relief.
Manuka honey has been proven to benefit the immune system by stimulating the production of certain immune cells that help get rid of inflammation. It has also been shown to be effective at inhibiting the activity of the Helicobacter Pylori bacteria, which causes stomach ulcers – but more studies are needed to confirm this. Like other types of honey, manuka honey is also antibacterial and shows promise for accelerating wound healing.
While honey offers plenty of benefits, it may contain botulism spores. This is harmless for older children and adults, but babies can become very sick from the botulism toxins. For this reason, it is very important to never feed honey to a child under 12 months old.