Harvard Men's Health Watch

Honey for health?

Q. My teenage daughter wants us to switch from sugar to honey for health reasons. Is honey really any healthier than sugar?

A. People began to use honey as a sweetener long before cane and beet sugar came into use. Despite this long history, it's not clear if honey has particular health benefits.

Honey is composed mainly of water (17%) and two simple sugars, fructose (38%) and glucose (31%). Minor ingredients include various complex sugars, minerals, vitamins, and proteins. Some of these ingredients have antioxidant properties, but the amounts are so small that they may not affect health. A tablespoon of honey contains about 64 calories; in comparison, a level tablespoon of table sugar contains 45 calories.

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