Is Honey Fattening or Healthy to Eat?

Is Honey Fattening

Honey is a sugary food substance produced by bees. The composition of honey depends on the environment the bees are harvested in. The average pH of honey is 3.9, and it can be stored for centuries when sealed properly. The color of honey can vary from dark gold or amber to light brown. Dark honey has more antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Honey consists of large quantities of sugar, in addition to other nutrients. So, is honey fattening? Let’s find out.

Is Honey Fattening or Not? Know the Facts

Consuming anything in excess is definitely harmful. A person gains weight when their calorie intake exceeds the daily requirements. The calories may come from excess sugars (carbs) and fats, and this could include honey. These excess calories are stored in the body as fats, which leads to weight gain.

It is generally advised to reduce sugar intake to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight. Cutting down sugar also helps to minimize the onset of certain diseases. As per the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should eat less added sugar to maintain a healthy weight and help prevent disease.

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Both honey and refined sugars are sweet, but there is a huge difference in their nutrient contents. Sugar contains more calories than honey. One ounce sugar contains 108 calories. The same serving of honey contains only 85 calories. Refined sugar is a processed source of carbs, while honey is a natural whole food. Furthermore, sugar doesn’t have any nutrients, whereas honey does, and it provides many health benefits.

Honey: Nutrition Facts & Relation with Weight

A tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates. Honey doesn’t have any dietary fiber, but it has more than 80% of natural sugar, fructose, and glucose, and so it is sweeter than sugar.

The carbohydrates in honey are in the form of fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose. There are also some trace amounts of vitamins such as folate, choline, and vitamin C, as well as minerals such as calcium and potassium. The natural sugars in honey give it an intense sweetness, which is sufficient to satisfy any sweet cravings.

Honey Nutrition Table

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Honey Nutrition Table

Consuming honey in moderation doesn’t lead to weight gain, and it is a healthier option than nutrient-deficit table sugar. Like sugar, honey is also immediately absorbed into the blood; however, if you eat it in moderation with low-glycemic foods, the spike in blood sugar can be controlled.

The cause of weight gain is the accumulation of fats in the body. The natural vitamins and minerals in honey metabolize excess fats and cholesterol in cells and tissues, preventing obesity. Honey reduces the accumulation of fats on blood vessel linings. It also increases the good cholesterol in the body and reduces cardiovascular strain, which helps one lead an active and healthy life.

When consumed at night, honey helps prevent insomnia, increases metabolism, and eases stress hormones. This is because the consumption of honey leads to a minimal spike in blood sugar levels by releasing melatonin, which helps get a sound sleep. It also improves digestion, which helps reduce the static weight in the digestive system.

Honey is beneficial to health when replacing processed sugar and consumed in moderation. It is a natural sweetener full of nutrients and antioxidants. A unique antioxidant called pinocembrin is only found in honey. Honey is the simplest form of sugar, which means it can’t be broken down further, and gets quickly absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestine.

Honey and Weight Loss: What do the Studies say?

In a study published in Nutrition Research, the effect of honey and sugar on obesity in rats was compared. It was found that the rats who were fed honey ate less during the day compared to the ones who were fed sugar. They also gained less weight and body fat compared to the sugar-fed rats.

Related: Honey and Cinnamon for Weight Loss

Another study published in The Scientific World Journal says that honey helps in better weight loss compared to sugar. Moreover, another study published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the effect of sugar and honey in healthy women, and found that honey had less effect on blood sugar than regular table sugar.

Honey Uses, Benefits, and Precautions

  • Honey must not be fed to babies as it may result in botulism
  • People with a weak immune system should also refrain from consuming honey, as it may give rise to fungal infections
  • Honey can be used to treat wounds and infections
  • It is an effective remedy for curing colds and coughs, and is proven to be more effective than over-the-counter medicines
  • It can be used in baking, cooking, or added to beverages
  • Honey is one of the best sources of energy from carbohydrates to be consumed before and after workouts
  • Its antimicrobial properties help prevent digestive problems and relieve congestion
  • Honey reduces blood cholesterol level by decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL)

Can Diabetics Have Honey?

There are several different, and sometimes contradictory, views and findings regarding the benefits of honey for diabetes. Dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, Toby Smithson, says that despite honey being natural, it is not better than sugar for people who suffer from diabetes. Smithson is also the founder of the web site, Diabetes Everyday, and believes sugar is sugar, whether it is from a natural source, or processed.

According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, honey may help reduce cholesterol, and also lowers plasma glucose and blood lipids in healthy diabetics and hyperlipidemic subjects. Dr. M. Regina Castro says that substituting honey for sugar in a diabetes diet will also affect blood sugar levels. Another study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, proposes the possible use of honey as an antidiabetic agent in the future, although more research is required in this area. This is based on the fact that honey positively influences gut bacteria, as well as the liver and pancreas, which could improve metabolism and glycemic control.

How to Use Honey for Weight Loss?

Honey, Cinnamon, and Lemon Tea Recipe

Many people have experienced that taking honey with cinnamon powder and warm water helps lose weight. A honey and warm water mixture helps flush out the toxins from the body. You can spread honey on bread instead of jam, which is laden with preservatives and additives. Honey can be swapped with table sugar in coffee, tea, and juices.

Here is a simple honey, cinnamon, and lemon tea recipe which will help with weight loss.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Directions

Bring water to a boil. In another bowl mix the honey, cinnamon powder, and lemon juice.

Pour the water to the honey mixture. Stir and serve.

In conclusion, honey isn’t fattening when it is consumed in moderation with low-GI foods. In fact, it may help lose weight while combating sweet cravings and boosting metabolism. However, more research is needed with respect to other ways honey may be beneficial for our health.

Honey provides innumerable other health benefits—it boosts immunity, relieves cough and colds, induces sleep, heals wounds, and more. It has been hailed as a superfood for ages, and is mentioned in virtually all major religious scriptures. So, unless you are diabetic, you can include at least a tablespoon of honey in your diet. You can have it with warm water and lemon juice in the morning, spread on toast, or add it to coffee. If you are diabetic, you can have honey after consulting your doctor.


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Sources:

Edgar, J., “Medicinal Uses of Honey,” WebMD, December 20, 2011; http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/medicinal-uses-of-honey#3, last accessed March 24, 2017.

Castro, M. R., “Diabetes, ” Mayo Clinic, September 16, 2016; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes/faq-20058487.

Erejuwa, O. O. et al, “Honey – A Novel Antidiabetic Agent,” International Journal of Biological Sciences, July 7, 2012; 8(6): 913–934. doi:  10.7150/ijbs.3697, last accessed March 27, 2017.

“Melatonin,” WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-940-melatonin.aspx?activeingredientid=940, last accessed March 27, 2017.