All about Honey

This is part of a series on sugars and sweeteners of all kinds – the good, the bad, and the toxic.

While we know that constant consumption of white sugar and artificial sweeteners isn’t a brilliant idea, we also know that something sweet now and again is really nice. When you do go for something sweet, you couldn’t really make a better choice than good quality honey.

Raw Honey (not very photogenic)
 Honey has been with us for quite some time. It’s mentioned in the Bible and the Vedas. It has long been known to have medicinal properties. I remember a radio interview with a dermatologist many years ago. He reported carrying out an experiment in which he treated two groups of people. They suffered from a wide variety of skin disorders. The first group received standard treatment for their particular problem. The second group was treated with honey. In the majority of cases, the honey did a better job.

Honey has slightly fewer calories per teaspoon than sugar. One of its advantages is that you won’t get the same rush and subsequent crash after eating it. Some people find that ingesting locally produced honey helps alleviate allergies to pollen. And as if that’s not enough, it’s a known antibacterial agent, and contains antioxidants, and phytonutrients (a good thing)… the list goes on and on.

Which honey should you buy?

Not all honey is created equal. The ideal honey is organic, unpasteurized (raw), and unfiltered. When you pasteurize honey, it is heated to about 71C (161 F). This gives the honey a more liquid consistency, and darkens the color. Edit: As some of my readers have pointed out, the color of any particular honey will be influenced by the flowers the bees get their necter from. Raw honey shouldn't be pourable in winter. Many of the beneficial properties of honey, (such as the invertase, the enzyme that breaks down sucrose), are lost through pasteurization, so it is definitely worth seeking out raw honey.

On the other side of the spectrum is completely fake honey, made from sugar mixed with artificial flavors and a small quantity of honey and sold as real honey. These fake products might be significantly cheaper than real honey. If the price looks too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true.

How to use it?
If you mostly use sugar as your sweetener, consider using honey instead. If you drink tea with sugar, try switching to honey. It’s not hard to find honey based desserts. If you eat yogurt with fruit, which often comes with a lot of sugar, consider buying white yogurt and adding your own fruit and honey.

Also in this series:

Artificial Sweeteners: Something for Nothing

High Fructose Corn Syrup

White Sugar

This post was shared posted on Kelly the Kitchen Kop.


FredT said...


In my n=1 experience Vit C has something to do with fat/ carbohydrate utility. large doses of Vitamin C raises blood glucose (Richard Bernstein), for me 1000mg raises blood glucose 15 to 32 mg/dl after 1/2 hour. Somewhere it said something about fat transport and glucose sparing, and somewhere else it only inter fears with metering... I do not know, but on high fat Vit C helps raise my energy level.

To lose weight my BG must be below about 85 (n=1) most of the time.

FredT said...

For those with insulin resistance/ hyperinsulinemia issues, crystal honey = sugar, raw fresh liquid sugar has more fructose, lower insulin index. But all sugars, honey, cause insulin release if you have any, and require insulin for the glucose portion.

Artificial sweeteners and fructose also cause cephalic phase insulin release, if you have any and little noticeable on postprandial insulin.

All second hand information. No SGN6, HB attitude.

Barb @ A Life in Balance said...

How would I know if the product is fake honey? Would there be something on the label?

Ruth @ Ruth's Real Food said...


Interesting about the vitamin C.

About the honey, and just about everything else, it all depends what your starting point is. If you've never abused your body too badly or are just luckly, you don't have to be quite as strict.
Sorry, but what does No SGN6, HB attitude mean?

Ruth @ Ruth's Real Food said...

If they are trying to cheat the public, they certain won't write fake honey on the bottle. :)
There was something here locally (in Israel) on Tv about a honey scam.

If your honey is a paler color and more solid than liquid (like in the picture), and labelled raw honey, that should be the real deal.

LivingSoAbundantly said...

We love honey at our home. :) Very educational post! I am now following you as Beagle Mama! :) I'd love you link this post to our meme, Give Back Thursday, since bees do give back--with honey! :)

Anonymous said...

I think color is less of an indicator than viscosity. Where I grew up there were honeys as dark as roast coffee beans! But if it moves like water inside its jar.... suspicious. In winter it's easier to tell: the honey crystalizes.
Great stuff, honey is.

Kira said...

I just wanted to second what Anonymous said above. Honey can come in a range of colors, from light as water to dark as molasses, depending upon what the bees forage on. But it all crystallizes in winter, if it hasn't been monkeyed with. If it's spring or summer or even early fall, it might still be free flowing, but by mid winter you will at least see a few crystals, unless you keep it in a very warm environment.

Ruth Almon said...

Thanks for the input, Kira!

The "Good Eater" Teacher said...

Thank you for your post! I appreciate hearing why honey is better than sugar. I'm guessing that what I have right now is the "fake" honey you were talking about- I will have to seek out some raw honey!

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