The myth of the benefits of honey

Are honey and sugar different?

The recommendation to replace white sugar with natural honey is one of the most frequent tips for those who are committed to a healthy lifestyle. In addition, we have all heard that honey is healthy and traditionally used to treat cold symptoms. But is it so?

In reality, there are only a few scientific studies, quite accurately speaking about the ability of honey to treat a cold. In this case, table honey from the nearest supermarket is not the product that can be called "natural" - in many respects it is even worse than brown sugar.

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What does honey consist of?

Typical honey consists of 80-85% of sugar( fructose accounts for up to 40% of its total composition, for glucose - 30%, for sucrose and other types of sugars - 10%) and 15-20% for water( 1).No more than 1% is protein, micromineral( traces of potassium, calcium, sodium, manganese) and vitamins. There is no fat in the honey composition.

100 g of honey contains 300-320 kcal, which is only 10% lower than the calorific value of regular table sugar. In fact, a teaspoon of honey is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar - both contain about 15-20 kcal. Glycemic index of honey is also close to white table sugar and is 65-70 units.

The content of vitamins in honey

To cover the daily norm of manganese it is necessary to eat about 2.5 kg of honey, to cover the daily rate of iron - more than 5 kg. Figures for other minerals and vitamins are significantly higher and can reach up to 20 kg. In other words, honey contains only traces of vitamins and minerals.

As honey is a natural product, the real content of sugars, vitamins and minerals varies greatly depending on the characteristics of a certain bee farm. At the same time, the "dining room" honey from the nearest supermarket is very likely only an imitation.

Fake honey

Official GOSTs allow "improvement" of the physical qualities of low-grade honey, including not only careful re-heating and filtration, but also boiling, evaporation, use of chalk, clay and alcohol to give the final product certain flavor and texture qualities.

Since even natural honey is 80% sugar, only high-precision tests in the laboratory will be able to determine if it contains additional sugar. Also in practice it is almost impossible to distinguish the natural aroma of honey from added extracts from rose petals and other herbs.

Benefits of natural honey

Ayurveda and traditional medicine recommend natural honey, primarily as a means for improving the taste and sweetening of bitter herbs. A teaspoon of ashwagandha powder, brambles or other herbs is mixed with a glass of warm water or milk, and then a teaspoon of honey is added( 2).

In this case, honey can be replaced with unrefined sugar without loss of effectiveness. Separately stipulates that it is important to use honey that has not been heated( not to mention boiling) - otherwise it becomes a poison and begins to clog the blood vessels, settling on their walls.

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Honey for cold treatment

There are scientific studies suggesting that honey shows some effectiveness as a cough remedy, as well as light antibacterial and healing wounds properties. The greatest benefit for the treatment of colds was honey, obtained from the fields of buckwheat( 3).

At the same time, scientists note that they do not at all claim that all honey has these properties. Since we studied a certain product, we can only say that it is he who helps fight the cold. It will be erroneous to call it with cheap "table" honey from the supermarket.

What is more useful - honey or sugar?

In comparison of sugar with honey, in the naturalness of which you are 100% sure, the honey will win, but only with a minimal overweight. However, in comparison of brown sugar with "table" honey, sugar will unequivocally win - the methods of its production are much less traumatic for the final product.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that the phrase "Composition: natural honey" does not say anything. To test the quality of a certain honey, high-precision laboratory tests are needed - even experts can not always determine whether sugar is added to this honey or natural flavors.


Any sugar, regardless of the method of its preparation, always remains a sugar. Neither honey nor brown sugar can be "more useful" or "harmful" than normal sugar, and their effect on the body is almost identical. At the same time cheap honey from a supermarket is a purely synthetic product, which should be avoided.

Scientific sources:

  1. Nutrition facts and Information for Honey, source
  2. "The Yoga of Herbs", David Frawley and Vasant Lad
  3. Medicinal Uses of Honey, WebMD, source