Is Honey Better Than Sugar?
It's an Apples-to-Oranges Comparison

Is honey better than sugar? 

Nutritionally speaking, raw honey is always better than sugar, hands down.

Most of us think of both honey and sugar as “just sweeteners,” but the latter is actually a whole food, unlike sugar, complete with a wide range of raw honey health benefits.

Raw honey contains minerals, vitamins, and, most importantly, acids and enzymes that transform it into a healing and antioxidant powerhouse. Processed honey has little, if any, nutritional value. Click here for the complete Nutritional Value of Honey breakdown. 

Tied in with the first point about raw honey being a whole food is the fact that you can eat it all by itself as a sweet and nutritional mini-snack, and it will satisfy your hunger. Sugar by itself doesn’t work that way. Not only is eating sugar by itself an unappealing thought, but sugar doesn’t fill you up as much as honey.

Is honey better than sugar if you're trying to cut calories? Sugar has fewer calories than honey, 48 compared to 64, so it wins the calorie-count competition. But while honey and weight loss is not necessarily an intuitive combination, the two actually do go hand in hand. This How Many Calories in Honey article explains exactly why you would substitute honey for sugar if you’re trying to lose weight.  

As a sweetener, honey is the best nutritional choice for room-temperature or cold meals and drinks, but cooking with honey destroys all of its many healthy properties, whereas nothing changes the properties of sugar. So there’s no additional health benefit to honey if you’re cooking or baking with it. 

Heating raw honey over 95 degrees Fahrenheit destroys its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. So only mix raw honey into warm, room temperature, or cold food and drinks.

For the best taste and texture in slightly warm, cool, or cold dishes, drinks, and desserts, judging sugar and honey comes down to preference. Certain recipes call for one consistency over the other. Also, raw honey varies greatly in flavor and fragrance, depending on the flowers from which it originates. You can mix and match varieties of honey to fit whatever you’re preparing in the kitchen. Sugar doesn’t vary in taste, color, texture, or fragrance. It has little nutritional value, but it also has fewer calories.

You get an energy boost from eating both honey and sugar, but raw honey is lower on the glycemic index scale, meaning that your energy will be more consistent and sustained after eating it. When we eat sugar, our energy levels spike and then crash. 

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that raw honey is a very effective and proven treatment for skin disorders, injuries and wounds, either by itself or as an ingredient in skincare products and remedies. Sugar doesn’t compete in this category at all.

So to recap, how is honey better than sugar?

Honey is a whole food that you can eat by itself.

The multiple properties of raw honey contribute to the healthy function of our hearts, brains, and immune system.

Raw honey is lower on the glycemic index than sugar, particularly of note for diabetics. 

The energy we get from honey remains steady and lasts longer, unlike the spike we get when we eat sugar.

There are hundreds of raw honey varieties, offering exponentially more choice than sugar in terms of taste, smell, and color to include in your drinks and dishes. See the Cooking with Honey article for ideas on how to keep your honey healthy in meal preparation.

Raw honey can be applied topically to treat and heal injuries as well as enhance the appearance of our skin and hair. Manuka honey is especially prevalent in the healing and wound care space. 

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