Is it? Or is honey considered healthy and one of the main players in a wholefood diet?
It’s easy to get swept up in all the hype surrounding sugar-free diets and trying to cut out all refined table sugar and other processed forms of fructose but is it relevant to honey also or is Winnie the Pooh the smartest bear on the block?
Table sugar is sucrose, which is made up of two molecules bonded together. When we eat table sugar, our stomach has to use its own enzymes to separate the molecules apart before we can use the sugar’s energy. Honey is quite different. The bees have added a special enzyme to the nectar that divides the sucrose into glucose and fructose — two simple sugars for our bodies can absorb directly
When you look at energy values 1 tablespoon of honey = 22 calories while the equivalent in sugar = 16 calories. These figures can be disputed though as we tend to use less honey due to the sweetness and denseness which would I guess even them up to some extent.
I have always considered honey as a wholefood, especially if you can consume it in its raw state straight from the bee keeper (where sugar is highly processed having to go through many steps before it is in its granulated form). The darker the honey the greater the antioxidants and if you can get you hands on some buckwheat honey, which is very similar looking to molasses then you are really doing yourself a favour. Buckwheat honey is found mainly in Europe and studies have shown it to be more effective than over-the-counter cough syrup at treating childhood cough.
Honey can be beneficial to athletes also as it falls into the low-medium GI range making it a slow release form of energy. Once considered the nectar of the gods, ancient Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has now been verified with modern studies, showing that it’s superior in maintaining glycogen levels and helping with recovery and protein synthesis when eaten with milk after a workout.
There are many benefits of honey and yes it is still considered a ‘sugar’ as such and we need to keep this in mind. If you’re actively burning calories working out and maintaining your weight I think you can afford to enjoy it on your morning cereal but if you’re suffering from diabetes and tipping the scales then I think it’s something you would need to look at reducing or eliminating from your diet. Either way though it is definitely a healthier option than your standard form of sugar.