Honey vs. Sugar


Many people prefer the use of honey as a replacement for table sugar in their recipes. This is brought about by the thinking that honey has a higher nutritional value than sugar. Why is this so?

To answer, we need to examine the chemical composition of both substances. Honey and sugar are both composed of two substances, glucose and fructose. In sugar, these substances and bound together to form sucrose, derived directly from sugar beets or sugar cane. In honey, fructose and glucose are independent of each other. In addition, about 25 different oligosaccharides have been identified in honey. An oligosaccharide is a polymer, which is a large complex molecule that contains many repeated sub units. Glucose is a natural monomer which reacts chemically to form three-dimensional chains called polymers. Examples of common polymers are cellulose and starch.

Oligosaccharides are most commonly found in the plasma membrane of animal cells, where they play a role in cell-to-cell recognition. In addition, there are two oligosaccharides, each one found in a different blood type- A or B (AB blood has both; O type has neither). They play a role in human cell recognition and blood type compatibility.

However, the most interesting role of these oligosaccharide polymers can be found in their therapeutic effects. When oligosaccharides are consumed, the undigested portion serves as food for intestinal micro flora. Depending on the type of oligosaccharides, different bacterial groups are either stimulated or suppressed. So-called beneficial bacteria is aided and stimulated by the chemicals in honey.
Since table sugar is composed of two monosaccharides, it passes through the stomach without any digestion happening. When it reaches the small intestine, the liver then utilizes some enzymes to separate the sucrose molecules into glucose, enabling it to enter the bloodstream. Honey is different; the molecules are already separate, so digestion is much easier.

So, we can see that on a molecular level, honey is much better for us. Does honey have more calories than sugar? Yes, sugar has 16 calories in a teaspoon to honey’s 22 calories. Unfortunately for sugar, it is usually highly processed and loses many healthy components such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals.  Honey does not go through this process, (Winter Park Honey is NEVER heated!) and maintains all of its benefits, particularly the antimicrobial ones.

Also, honey has a glycemic index that is lower than that of sugar, which means it’s absorbed by the body at a slower rate. Sugar’s higher glycemic rate can increase the blood-glucose levels, causing a person to overeat.  Honey would be the choice for someone who is trying to shed those unwanted pounds. Honey also helps to increase the performance and endurance of athletes, because it lowers muscle fatigue.

If you ever have a craving for sweets, one of the body’s ways of communicating its needs to you, honey is the perfect way to satisfy your desire without compromising your digestive system. Winter Park Honey makes a variety of products that all have one thing in common:  they’re delicious, healthy, raw and natural.  OK, OK, that’s four things in common, but, just like eating honey, it is hard to stop praising the benefits of our bees’ hard work. Honey vs. sugar? I’ll take honey every time!

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