During the Jewish New Year in September, honey is used in cooking, added to the traditional challah bread, and spread on the new fruit we eat, all to symbolize a sweet new year. But is honey better for you than plain ole sugar?
The short answer is no — honey is not nutritionally better for you than sugar. In fact, honey is a form of sugar. Both honey and table sugar are simple carbohydrates made up of two sugar molecules, fructose and glucose. Honey contains a greater proportion of fructose than table sugar does, and since fructose is the sweetest of the simple sugars, it is sweeter than table sugar.
Because of it’s sweetness, honey can be used in smaller amounts to achieve the same level of sweetness you would get from a larger amount of sugar. That being said, honey is denser than sugar; therefore, it has more calories per tablespoon than sugar does, 64 vs. 46 calories, respectively.
Honey is also a great alternative to molasses, maple syrup, and agave nectar, although vegans may want to stick with the latter. Did you know that most vegans don’t eat honey because it is considered an animal product since it is produced by bees?!
Although there is no real nutritional advantage to using honey in place of sugar, there are some health and medicinal benefits to honey that sugar does not have.
- Honey contains antioxidants that help fight off disease and act as antibacterial agents.
- Because it contains a fair amount of water, honey is a humectant that attracts and retains moisture. This is great for baking because honey will keep baked goods moist. It’s also a reason honey is found in some skin-care products and is a great at-home remedy for aggravated skin. Not only does it sooth the skin, it pulls moisture into it to keep your skin from drying out.
- Honey helps heal wounds due to its enzymes.
Honey should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place in an airtight container so it doesn’t absorb moisture. It can last for years if kept properly!
Stay tuned for a great cake recipe that includes honey later this week!