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honey vs. sugar

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A few days ago, the Damsel talked to a friend who has a spot of hypoglycemia. If she eats sweet things on an empty stomach, she feels dizzy and lightheaded. So she switched to using honey rather than white sugar in her morning shake. Things didn’t work out for her the way she’d hoped.

This brings up the question: how does honey differ from sugar on a nutritional level?

DCF 1.0

One could argue that since honey is less processed than sugar, it’s better for you. But once a spoonful of honey hits your system and is metabolized, there’s not much difference nutritionally. They have equal ratings on the glycemic index, which measures the sugar hit on your bloodstream. The amount of vitamins or protein or minerals in honey is so small it’s not worth talking about.

What about calories? There are 46 calories in a tablespoon of sugar, and 64 in a tablespoon of honey. Since honey is a little sweeter than sugar, spoonful to spoonful, that makes the calories pretty much the same too. (When substituting, you can usually use about 1/3 less honey than sugar in a recipe. If you have a fussy recipe, you may need to also reduce the liquid a smidgeon to compensate for the moisture of honey.)

Then there’s cost. Sugar’s cheaper, no doubt about it. Prices vary widely for both items. You can save a little by buying in bulk, but some folks can’t face the thought of a 5 gallon bucket of solidified honey. (Just so you know…solidified or crystallized honey is still fine to eat, and can be restored to its delicious pourable/spreadable state by heating it. The Damsel has even successfully melted honey packed in a plastic gallon container by putting it in the oven on the lowest setting, although it frightened her.)

The reasons for using honey instead of sugar boils down to pretty much just one thing: taste. Honey has its own unique flavor that can’t be duplicated by white sugar in some recipes. But once it’s past your tongue, your body sees little difference.

There is one thing that should be mentioned…some folk who have managed to find/eat local honey…honey made by bees that buzz in their own vicinity…have noticed an improvement in seasonal allergies. You might want to give that a try if you are one of the allergic.

For help on how to measure the pesky sticky stuff, see this post:

Measuring Honey

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