Part 1: What Is Honey?
How is Honey Made?
Honey is a sweet liquid naturally produced by bees from flower nectar. It plays a vital role in the nourishment and sustenance of bee colonies. In its lifetime, every bee makes about a half a teaspoon of honey on average. To produce tons of honey yearly takes a collective effort of lots of bees at work! Apis Mellifera (the honeybee) collects flower nectars using its mouth. A chemical reaction in the bee’s saliva causes a chemical reaction which turns the nectar into honey that is deposited into the walls of the beehive.
The flavor and texture of the honey depend on the honeybee’s choice of flowers.
How is Honey Used?
Since the ancient days, honey is used for both medicinal and nutritional purposes. People used honey to help embalm the dead and pay homage to the gods, as well as for cosmetic and medical purposes for centuries in the past. Today, it is a versatile sweetener used when cooking for baking, in hot drinks or sauces, instead of white cane sugar.
Honey works well in dense, full-flavored and moist bakes. Since it is sweeter than sugar, you will need to use less and its liquid nature will only necessitate less fluid in the recipe. It gives the cake a darker finish and caramelizes quicker than normal sugar. As a general rule, the dark-colored honey has strong flavors compared to the lighter ones. Though honey may solidify at room temperature, gently heating the jar in warm water will remedy it.
Try honey with gorgeous citrus flavors, combine with lemon and brush over roast chicken while cooking. Since honey can burn, brush it during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Cooking vegetables and roast meat bring the rich value in these foods.
What is Honey Made of, Nutritionally?
Honey comprises 40 percent fructose, 30 percent glucose, water, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. The high level of fructose makes honey sweeter than table sugar. Honey has a moderate range (55) GI value and is a high carbohydrate food. However, some varieties have lower GI because of fluctuating fructose levels (lower GI means to more fructose). Honey is still high in calories and may cause an increase in blood sugar.
Sidenote: What is Manuka Honey?
You may have heard of manuka honey. Manuka honey comes from the pollen of the manuka tree. It is rich in methylglyoxal chemicals, which researchers claim is the source of the antibacterial property of honey. Its price matches the quality hence comes with a high price tag. Manuka honey has a strong flavor and you can stir it in yogurt, tea or spread on toast. Remember to consume it in moderation as it is a source of concentrated sugar.
Part 2: Honey vs Sugar
Exploring Honey’s Unique Health Benefits
Honey health benefits depend on the quality of flowers the bees collect pollen from processing, as well as the processing. Honey retains more of the health-promoting nutrients in its raw form. To get the most out of honey, use raw honey that has not been pasteurized, heated, filtered, or clarified in any way.
One of the uses of honey over the years is as an antiseptic. Since honey is composed of mainly fructose and glucose, it absorbs water in the wound as the two sugars attract water. As a result, the wound dries inhibiting the growth of fungi and bacteria.
In cooking, honey offers a great substitute for sugar while baking. The end product will not only taste better but is also a healthier option.
Darker varieties of honey are a rich source of chemical compounds like flavonoids. Flavonoids are reported to have anti-viral, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Due to the flavonoid content, many regard honey healthier to sugar and a source of antioxidants.
Is Honey Healthier than Sugar?
Unlike sugar, honey has low GI value hence does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly. It is also sweeter than sugar, which means you will need less of it. However, it may contain more calories per teaspoon so you may need to watch on your portion intake sizes.
People trying to manage their sugar blood levels should not use honey as a substitute to sugar as both raise the sugar levels. If you prefer honey, choose a raw variety that contains more enzymes, vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants than white sugar. Use in moderation.
Honey remains as one of the most incredible ingredients in the cooking industry, and many people keen on healthy and natural prefer it to sugar. However, the health benefits of one over the other are overall negligible and honey is not a “far healthier” substitute to sugar. While it does have unique properties that sugar itself does not, it is still a sweetener and should be eaten in moderation.