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My girlfriend has been putting honey in my coffee instead of sugar. She says it is better for me, but she can't give me an explanation I understand. I think she is being influenced by someone she works with.

What nutritional differences are there between honey and sucrose? Are they digested differently?

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I voted to close. The faq (cooking.stackexchange.com/faq) defines that questions about the healthines of different foods are off topic here. Feel free to ask other questions which are about the preparation of food, not about its effect on health. –  rumtscho Apr 26 '11 at 18:18
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@rumtscho is correct, we do not address general health topics on this site. I have edited your question to objectively ask about the nutritional differences between honey and sucrose. You can draw your own conclusions from that. –  hobodave Apr 26 '11 at 18:57
    
Sorry if I've upset you. Frankly, I didn't mind the honey until she bought that acacia honey at the weekend. It tastes like glue! So I wanted to know why she was being so fussy - if it was worth any effort. I think I'll just buy a jar of cheap honey and get rid of the acacia stuff. –  Michael Hetton Apr 27 '11 at 18:32
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Nobody is upset. @rumtscho simply pointed out that the question was not on-topic for this Q&A site; @hobodave rewritten the question to make it on-topic. We are now all happy, aren't we? :-) –  kiamlaluno Apr 27 '11 at 21:04

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'd say yes, honey is a bit healthier than sugar, but this really depends on the type of sugar or honey. Raw honey is better than pasteurized honey. Highly refined sugar is less healthy than some less refined sugar.

Assuming you are talking about table sugar and raw honey, in general:

  1. Sugar is sucrose. You need some enzymes to split it into fructose and glucose, your body has to make these enzymes and can digest those mono-sacharides. When you eat honey, there is no need for such body-made enzymes, because the fructose and glucose aren't combined, but they appear there as mono-sacharides. So honey is less demanding for your body.
  2. Honey is better for your blood-glucose level (this level raises more if you eat sugar than if you eat the same amount of honey).
  3. Honey contains some vitamins and minerals, which sugar lacks.
  4. As a consequence of all these points: If you use sugar, you have a higher risk of high cholesterol and obesity than if you use honey.

I didn't mention anything about the taste, since that is not health-related.

Source and more info: http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honey-vs-sugar.html

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I don't think a website called "benefits-of-honey" is the most unbiased source. The statements above are speculation, not based on science. For a scientist's perspective, check out Dr. Robert Lustig. (Summary: white sugar, brown sugar, HFCS, honey, syrup, etc are all the same) –  michael Apr 26 '11 at 18:53
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@michael, while I'm all for citing reliable sources, I have the impression that Dr. Lustig is considered somewhat controversial. (Not that he couldn't be telling the truth; but the way he markets himself is as if his work is as much for promoting his own agenda as a honeymakers' site). –  rumtscho Apr 26 '11 at 18:58
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@rumtscho: Say what? Lustig is an MD who's been studying this for a few decades now and has several peer-reviewed publications. Slightly more reliable than a web site that doesn't even list the author's name. –  Aaronut Apr 26 '11 at 19:10
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Mien - you're obviously free to use whichever sources you wish, however, I tend to be wary of any sources that (a) don't explicitly indicate the author and his/her credentials, and (b) don't offer any citations to other reliable sources. There was actually a recent meta question about reliable sources and anonymous websites rank pretty close to the bottom. If you can find 50 sites that all make the same claim, but none of them are authored by or cite a credible expert, then together they amount to basically nothing. –  Aaronut Apr 26 '11 at 19:43
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@Orbling: That is a depressingly irrational and self-serving way to assess the quality of a scientific work. It's sheer intellectual laziness to dismiss thorough research on the basis of funding or "politics". This is exactly what the peer review process is for - scientists critique each other's work and it all gets published together, and yes, some have agendas, but either you make an effort to understand the principles and the research and the review process or you accept that you're not qualified to have an opinion. We don't rely on lame ad hominem arguments on a Q&A site. –  Aaronut Apr 28 '11 at 0:30

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