Honey is a better alternative to sugar because it comes with potential health benefits like the possibility to aid in lowering one's cholesterol.
We all know sugar is bad for you. But it is difficult to curb those sweet tooth cravings. The good news is that you can satisfy your sweet tooth more healthily; all you need to do is switch over to honey.
Now you might argue that honey is still sugar. And you would be right. In fact, roughly 80% of honey is sugar.
The two are similar in that they both have fructose and glucose. But that is where the similarities end. Honey has a significantly different nutrient and enzyme profile than sugar.
A new study published by Nutrition Reviews took a detailed look at that nutritional profile and what it might mean for our health. According to the authors, “Honey is a complex composition of sugars (common and rare), organic acids, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and bioactive substances made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers.” However, there is a critical difference between raw honey and processed honey.
Both types of honey undergo a straining filtering process to remove unwanted particles and debris. Raw honey may or may not add a filtering step, but stops after that, preserving all of the active compounds. Processed honey, on the other hand, is heated after filtering, which kills the beneficial bioactive compounds.
The study in Nutrition Reviews examined how raw honey produced from a single floral source impacts our health. And the news of its findings may surprise you. “Consuming raw honey from a single floral source may improve blood sugar control and lower cholesterol levels when taken within the context of a healthy diet,” according to Fox News.
Researchers arrived at that conclusion after a thorough review of the available scientific studies conducted up to this point. They looked at “18 clinical trials that included over 1,100 participants.” And their primary focus was on the impact of raw honey from a single source on metabolic and heart health.
They found improvements in cholesterol levels (including triglycerides), benefits for multiple metabolic functions, and lowered fasting blood glucose levels. The study’s findings are fascinating and may mean good news for many people. But it does have limitations.
Unfortunately, the available data on the possible health benefits of honey is sparse. Tauseef Khan, one of the authors of the study said, “There are many honey varieties for which no human studies have been done, so we could not assess them.” He believes we need more research.
Researchers also cautioned people to use discretion when switching to raw honey. After all, it is still a sweetener. So its use should be limited.
However, in most cases, the addition of honey in small amounts or as a replacement for white sugar should be ok. But always consult your physician before making any major dietary changes. This step is particularly important if you have pre-existing health concerns.
Fox News spoke about the study with Emma Laing, Ph.D., RDN. She said, “The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10% of total daily calories come from sugar — and this includes honey.” And remember, all honey (raw or processed) is unsafe for kids under 12 months old.