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Which is healthier: honey or sugar?

Honey and two types of sugar

It’s a time-old question that hasn’t really been properly addressed. Find out which is healthier out of sugar or honey with expert advice from Dietitian Juliette Kellow.

Honey

A lot has been written about the health benefits of honey, but it’s still classed as a ‘free’ sugar – the type we need to cut right down on. It has a lower GI than sugar and is sweeter so, in theory, you can use less. In reality, most of us simply use a spoonful, which weighs more than a spoonful of sugar and has more calories.

Sugar

Like honey, ordinary sugar counts as a ‘free’ sugar, so it’s important we cut down on the amount in our diet. Sugar comes with calories but little in the way of nutrients. While honey does contain slightly more of some minerals, the differences are very small and neither sweetener makes a significant impact on overall nutrient intakes.

1 teaspoon honey (8g)1 teaspoon sugar (4g)
23kcal/96kJ16kcal/67kJ
6.1g carbohydrate4,2g carbohydrate
6.1g sugars4.2g sugars

And the winner?

Both honey and sugar need to enjoyed in small quantities only (having a piece of fruit, instead, for a sweet hit is a much more nutritious option). Honey does have a lower GI than sugar but, like sugar, it’s seldom eaten in isolation, and blood sugar levels will be affected by what you eat them with.

For more on sugar check out: How to do a low-sugar grocery shop 

First published: Feb 2019
Last updated: November 16, 2020

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