Honey vs Sugar: properties, benefits and contraindications

Sugar and honey are very similar, beyond the obvious aromatic differences it is necessary to ask ourselves in which cases it is recommended to use one over the other and what distinguishes them at the level of composition.


both are composed of fructose and glucose. The main difference, however, is the ratio between these two compounds: whereas in sugar approximately 50% of fructose and 50% of glucose are present, honey 30% of glucose and less than 40% of fructose. Inside the honey are also contained other substances such as: water (about 20%, unlike sugar completely free), pollen, complex sugars and minerals (variable depending on the type of product or floral type of honey). According to 2018 research, it may contain traces of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, zinc, and vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6. Another important difference is the higher sweetening power in honey, so theoretically it can be said that to get the same sweetness you need less honey than sugar.

The calories:

Traditional sugar has a higher caloric content than honey, attested to 392kcal per 100gr (362 in the case of cane sugar) compared to 304kcal per 100gr of honey. Despite this, a teaspoon of honey provides more calories and carbohydrates than a tablespoon of sugar because of the higher specific weight, which is also more difficult to dose. The fact that honey also contains complex sugars causes our body to struggle more to break them down and assimilate them, this results in a absorption of fewer calories from honey.

The difference between these two sweeteners is therefore very subtle if we dwell on the composition. Honey by virtue of its vitamin and mineral content is definitely a preferable food compared to sugar.

The properties:

Many times honey is wrongly attributed properties that it does not possess. Sometimes, however, they find scientific confirmation, it is the case of honey as a remedy for cough (one of the most famous properties), a study has revealed an effective foundation (we talk about effects not comparable to a medicine). Another study revealed the usefulness of honey as a treatment of pollen allergies: a 60% reduction in symptoms was observed by administering birch honey to subjects allergic to pollen of the same plant. As already mentioned, honey contains vitamins free of sugar, vitamins present in greater quantities in the most raw versions of molasses.


Taking large doses of both sugar and honey can give rise to contraindications, both raise risks such as obesity, diabetes type 2 and liver disease. For a diabetic replace sugar with honey brings some small advantage, but only with equal quantities consumed. However, the effects on the glycemic index are more pronounced in sugar due to the higher concentration of fructose. In short, despite the greater properties of honey both products should be consumed sparingly.

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