Many people consider honey to be a natural, more healthy, alternative to white sugar but new research has revealed it may not be as healthy as you think.
Writing in the Journal of Nutrition, a team of nutritionists said that honey has the same effect on the body as white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, a cheap and widely-used sweetener.
Lead researcher Susan Raatz said: “Honey is thought of as more natural whereas white sugar and high fructose corn syrup are processed.
“We wanted to find out if they were different, but chemically they are very, very, similar.”
For the study, researchers compared the effect of honey, table sugar, and high fructose corn syrup on 55 volunteers. They were asked to eat a daily 50g dose of one of the three sweeteners for two weeks.
By the end of the study, all three sweeteners were found to have had the same effect on the participants. The level of of triglycerides, a lipid that can raise the risk of heart disease, had risen for all of the volunteers, no matter what sweetener they had eaten.
Honey has been touted as an alternative sweetener to sugar as it can provide nutrients that do not exist in table sugar, such as vitamin B. Manuka honey, a rare and expensive variety from New Zealand, has even been touted as a superfood. However, nutritionist Sara Stanner warned that this only occurs in very small amounts, so shouldn’t be thought of as a ‘healthy’ choice.
She also highlighted the number of calories found in honey: “A teaspoon of honey contains 23 calories and 6g of sugar, compared with a level teaspoon of sugar, which contains 16 calories and 4g of sugar – although honey is sweeter so you need to add less to get a sweet taste.
“A little bit of honey won’t do you any harm, but you should remember it provides added sugar and calories to your diet.”