The Skinny on (Raw) Honey and Sugar

Due to the sweetness of honey and sugar, many think there is little difference other than honey is more natural therefore, healthier. There is some truth to that, but how the body metabolizes the two is more significant. All sweeteners affect metabolism, and artificial sweeteners cause toxic overload so it is best to avoid them.

Table sugar (sucrose) comes from sugar beets or sugar cane consisting of glucose and fructose bound together. The glucose and fructose in honey are independent of each other. Honey contains more fructose than glucose and offers small amounts of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that sugar does not.  Sugar’s processing destroys its enzymes and nutrients, whereas, with raw honey processing effects are minimal if any.  Raw honey also has beneficial antioxidant, antifungal and antimicrobial properties absent in table sugar.

Our bodies have difficulty processing table sugar. The stomach passes it to the small intestine where its break down starts and the liver does the rest of the job, sending it to the bloodstream, boosting energy. Honey is more efficient because bees have an enzyme that breaks down the glucose and fructose making it easier for our bodies to absorb.

One tablespoon of table sugar contains 46 calories; a tablespoon of honey has 64. The calorie count is insignificant because usually less honey is used since it is sweeter than sugar.  Honey is also absorbed slower which aids in the digestive process.

The Glycemic Index measures how much a particular food affects blood-sugar levels. The lower the rating, the slower the digestive process which means there is less pressure on the pancreas to release insulin that helps move the sugar from the blood stream to the cells for energy. A high Glycemic Index rating means sugar levels increase quickly requiring the pancreas to release insulin immediately which, over time, causes insulin sensitivity. More sugar requires more insulin which in turn depresses the immune system, promotes fat storage, weight gain, and diabetes. Exercise helps the body utilize sugar, fats, and carbohydrates efficiently.  Similarly, complex fruits and vegetables are absorbed and metabolized more slowly thus creating a more efficient use of nutrients.

Dr. Ron Fessenden, co-chairman for the Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health in America, a non-profit organization devoted to educating the consumer about the benefits of honey says this, “The rapidity with which sucrose (table sugar) raises blood glucose levels can cause problems for people suffering from defects in glucose metabolism… When foods containing a high percentage of sucrose are consumed, many beneficial and required nutrients may be displaced from the diet, thus contributing to increased risks for several chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancers, osteoporosis and even neuro-degenerative diseases.”

Knowing this, what will you prefer? I vote for raw honey, not to mention that 99% of sugar cane and sugar beets come from genetically modified organisms unless you buy organic. Be sure to read your labels.  Most grocery-stocked honey is junk too. If for some reason you choose sugar instead, beware of potential weight-gain and other unpleasant side effects. Mother Nature has gifted us with little honey bees that are more than happy to satisfy our sweet tooth.






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