Benefits of honey

Honey has nutritional value over table sugar.

Both honey and granulated sugar come from natural sources. However, honey, which is sold raw or pasteurized, undergoes much less processing than white granulated sugar. Honey contains the same basic sugar units as table sugar, glucose and fructose. However, granulated table sugar, or sucrose, contains glucose and fructose hooked together, whereas in honey, fructose and glucose remain in their own individual units. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, which is one of the reasons fructose is used in so many food products today. However, fructose does not convert to energy as efficiently as glucose. As a result, processed foods containing granulated sugar high in fructose convert to fat and stores more easily than honey.

Raw honey is not subject to any heating or processing and even commercial pasteurized honey has only one processing step involved. Pasteurized honey is heated to prevent crystallization and yeast fermentation during storage. Table sugar is highly processed, whereby all the natural trace minerals from the sugar cane plant are removed, leaving us with "empty calories" which are devoid of nutrition like vitamins, minerals and important enzymes.

One tablespoon of sugar yields 49 calories and about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Honey, which is denser than sugar, has 68 calories and 17.2 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon. However, honey tastes sweeter than sugar so you may use less of it.

The benefits of honey are numerable. Besides having minerals, vitamins and important enzymes, honey is a natural, healthy energy booster. It is an immune system builder and has both antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-tumor properties. Honey has a healthy glycemic index; meaning its sugars can be absorbed into the bloodstream gradually resulting in better digestion.

Michigan State University Extension recommends trying using locally grown raw honey in place of jelly and jams on peanut butter sandwiches or replacing table sugar as coffee and tea sweeteners to enjoy the natural energy boost honey provides.

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