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Honey May Not Be As Healthy As We Think

Generally, if you are asked which is better for you, honey, white sugar or high-fructose corn sweetener, most people would plump for honey.

After all honey has always been presented as a pure, natural food – collected by bees from fabulous flower meadows and forest plants among the accompaniment of birdsong in the fresh air. White sugar and high fructose corn syrup are processed foods obtained from cane, beet or corn.

So it is disturbing to learn of new research from the United States Department of Agriculture that shows that there are virtually no differences between the health effects of honey and processed sweeteners.

The researchers were interested in the belief that honey was thought to be the healthiest form of sweetener, and decided to find out more.

The tests involved 55 volunteers who were asked to eat a daily 50g portion of one of the three sweeteners for two weeks. They then compared the levels of blood sugar, insulin, body weight, cholesterol and blood pressure in all the volunteers.

Once the results came in, the researchers found that the three sweeteners had pretty well the same impact. Most measures were unchanged by the sweeteners although one measure, of key blood fat which is a marker for heart disease, rose with all three but again by similar levels.

Research nutritionist Susan Raatz of America’s Department of Agriculture, who helped lead the study, said that chemically the products are really very similar indeed and all three sugars appear to have much the same impact on the body.

The findings have been backed by comment from the Mayo Clinic who have said: “At this time, there is insufficient evidence to say that high-fructose corn syrup is any less healthy than other types of sweeteners.”

More research is being done by various bodies to find out if there are in fact hidden benefits in honey. Some experts still believe honey has to be better because it doesn’t go through any manufacturing process which can eliminate vitamins, organic acids and nitrogen elements. Honey is also said to contain beneficial ingredients such as antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that aren’t contained in sugar although the levels may be very small indeed.

Calorie content is slightly different; one teaspoon of sugar has about 16 calories while a teaspoon of honey contains around 22 calories. Honey is also said to have a lower glycemic index than sugar, so that it is absorbed at a slower rate.

But does this make it healthier for you? According to the new report from the United States Department of Agriculture, this is just a matter of timing because once the sugar or honey has been absorbed the effect will be the same.

There has been a lot of news lately about the dangers of over consumption of sugar. Whether it is white sugar or honey, eating too much will lead to weight gain and obesity which can increase health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

So while research is still underway, it seems sensible to cut down on honey intake as well as sugar intake and ensure those calories are kept under control.

 

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