Is honey really that much better for you than regular sugar?
Yes. A thousand times, yes. Honey is the original sugar, and the original healer. It’s been used by the oldest system of medicine on earth, Ayurveda from India, for more than 5,000 years.
One of reasons honey is so much better is because it’s a more complex sugar. This means for your body to break it down, it will have to expend much more energy. That means your body is left to deal with far fewer calories.
Honey also contains trace elements — mineral and vitamins — gathered by bees when travelling from plant to plant. Because honey is not processed, these nutrients can actually benefit you nutritionally.
And the clinical benefits of honey are mounting.
Consider Tualang honey, named for the trees where the bees make their nests. In Malaysia, where the harvesters risk their lives getting the honey from nests because the trees grow as high as 300 feet, Tualang in considered a healing tonic.
Researchers at the School of Medical Sciences at the Universiti Sains in Malaysia designed a study to look at the heart-protective effects of Malaysian Tualang honey against heart attacks in animals.
In all the animals they pre-treated with Tualang honey, it had “significant protective effects on all of the investigated biochemical parameters.”
That’s a scientific way of saying that not only did no animal die of a heart attack, but when they tried to induce heart attacks in the animals, the honey protected them.
Even better, if your doctor is constantly hounding you about cholesterol, just eat Tualang honey. In the study I just mentioned, honey restored all the animals’ cholesterol to normal.
Honey appears to increase bile cholesterol excretion and lowers plasma cholesterol levels.
In another study done outside the U.S. realm of cholesterol orthodoxy, where only drugs are used to cut off cholesterol instead of keeping it healthy and normal, researchers added honey to the diets of 70 people at the Army Medical College in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Natural honey consumption not only blocked a rise in blood sugar (great for diabetics) but “significantly” decreased LDL and triglycerides and increased HDL in young healthy adults.
That makes honey more than just a cure for a sweet tooth.
I happen to keep a jar of raw, organic Manuka honey in my pantry because it has high levels of methylglyoxal, the antimicrobial that protects against infections and colds. But really, any of the darker honeys are good. The Journal of Apicultural Research found that darker honey has less water and more antioxidants than light-colored honey.
It’s also a good idea to buy locally produced honey. It will contain pollen spores picked up by the bees from local plants. According to the journal International Archives of Allergy & Immunology, this can increase your immunity to locally induced allergies by building up your natural immunity against them.
One tip for buying pure, unadulterated honey that you will not learn at any grocery store is to look at HMF (Hydroxymethylfurfural) level. Honey with too much HMF can mean it is adulterated with inverted sugars — i.e. white sugar or fructose.
These processed sugars are heated with acid, and industry then calls them “inverted sugars.” The heating creates HMF. Foods with added sugar or high fructose corn syrups can have levels of HMF up to 1,000 mg/kg. Look for a dark honey with less than 100 mg/kg of HMF.