Comparing raw honey and refined sugar
by Tunde Fabunmi
I have had cause to publish this piece sometimes in 2010, but I find the need to repeat it especially given the fallacy being peddled that honey and refined sugar are the same. Science is never a child of assumption. It is born and nurtured by facts. But in our country some “scientists” make weighty pronouncements that the public take as gospel truth particularly on nutrition, health and healing without recourse to elementary controlled experiment. Otherwise, what is the basis of equating honey with refined sugar? Perhaps because the two products are sweet, honey is not different from refined sugar, according to science by assumption. In fact, these apostles of science by assumption have succeeded in indoctrinating diabetics and people without diabetes to keep sweet fruits and vegetables at arm’s length if they want to be hale and hearty. This is stupid science, at least for two reasons. One, there is clear difference between natural sugar (honey) and artificial sugar (refined sugar) in terms of reaction in the body. Two, there are three major types of sugar in natural honey as opposed to refined sugar, which is solely sucrose.
At this point, it is pertinent to lay bare the science-validated facts to puncture the erroneous view that raw honey and refined sugar are the same. Welcome to the sweet world of honey.
Refined sugar’s main function is sweetening, yet honey is superior as a sweetener. While we can say honey is a substitute of sugar in the realm of sweetening, honey has no substitute. In other words, honey is sugar but refined sugar is not honey.
Unlike honey, the sweet savour of sugar leaves “bitter taste” in the long run. For instance, sugar weakens the immune system and body organs and it has been linked with many killer diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and hyperactivity. In contrast, honey strengthens immune system and has surpassed other remedies in preventing or healing these disorders.
In children, sugar does contribute to tooth decay. A 1989 report of the British Department of Health’s Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) concluded that sugar causes dental caries, a condition that costs Britain National Health Service more than one billion pounds a year to treat, twice the amount it spends treating people with coronary heart disease. Most experts on nutrition agree that cutting down sugar consumption or taking it off our daily menu is essential to a healthy life. The antiseptic powers of honey have been found effective against toothache and dental caries. Pythagoras in his days advised his pupils to consume honey on regular basis for longevity. He lived for 90 years, while his colleague – Appoloneus lived for 113 years. While refined sugar is a “poison” of a sort, honey is a natural elixir that insures life against many maladies.
Honey is a super energy food giving almost four times more energy than refined sugar. One tablespoon of honey gives 64 calories compared to only 16 calories from the same quantity of refined sugar. Refined sugar is not just “empty calories food,” it also depletes key nutrients in the body. Refined sugar does not contain even a trace of calcium or iron, compared to honey that contains 6.7 per cent calcium and 1.2 per cent iron. In addition, numerous minerals needed by the human body in very small amounts to keep the body in mineral balance are in honey in about the right quantity to serve the needs of the normal individual. This is why many people replace refined sugar with honey -“the nectar of God” and healthful sweetener loaded with vitamins, minerals, acids, antioxidants and enzymes.
Honey and refined sugar have different chemistry. Refined sugar is 100 per cent sucrose, which needs to be broken into glucose (blood sugar) with the help of insulin to facilitate its assimilation by the body cells. In contrast, honey has three main sugars-fructose 38 per cent, glucose 31 per cent and sucrose 1 per cent. More importantly, the sugars in honey are pre-digested, and if taking in the right quantity, it does not require the services of insulin to be absorbed into the cells to generate heat and energy.
Honey is ever adored and relished across the world. Even in the US that boasts of hi-tech medical facilities and world class hospitals, a group of medical doctors operating under the aegis of Committee for Promotion of Honey and Health is educating the American public about the goodness and health benefits of honey.
An experiment to compare the benefits of honey and sugar was carried out at the Cornell University, New York in the 1930s. One group of premature babies was given a honey-based formula and the other was given a sugar-based formula. The growth and vital signs of both groups were taken and the honey- fed group surpassed the sugar group in all categories. Honey has been found to be of great value to infants especially as a supplement added to natural fruit juice. In the case of premature babies and infants at risk, honey improves weight gain, growth, hemoglobin formation, calcium retention, relief from constipation and diarrhoea. It has also been proved that children fed on honey rarely have colic because the potassium it supplies is vital for the rapid growth of a child’s body. Owing to the nature of its sugars, honey provides both a quick-energy release and a slow-energy release, which maintains the child’s blood glucose level, avoiding the swings and crashes one would see with processed sugar. Studies at the University of Minnesota, USA confirmed these observations and medical doctors there say honey should be more widely used to maintain the children’s health.
Refined sugar makes the body susceptible to other infections like dysentery and diarrhoea, which honey can clear with ease. The Honey Research Unit of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, found honey to be effective in treating bacterial gastroenteritis in infants. Used in place of glucose in an oral re-hydration fluid, it was found to be as effective as glucose in achieving re-hydration, while the antibacterial activities cleared the infection in bacterial diarrhoea.
In the United States, the government’s dietary guidelines for Americans also advise that refined sugar should be used in moderation to stem epidemic of obesity, which precipitates many killer diseases.
Interestingly, honey makes weight shedding a tea party. Do you want to know how to eat honey to stay slim?
For the wise, honey should be an inseparable part of daily menu. Whether you stir raw honey in herbal tea, natural fruit juice or take it in spoonful, it has got you covered against many life-threatening diseases.