First things first, honey is natural. Table sugar, on the other hand, is heavily refined. But just because something is natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for you. Lard is natural. Dog poop is natural. Snake venom is natural. I wouldn’t recommend eating any of them. Natural isn’t a synonym for healthy.
Honey is sweeter than table sugar, so less is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. However, honey also contains more calories – so when it comes to sweetness per calorie, honey and table sugar are pretty similar. It is worth noting that, unlike table sugar, honey does contain some nutrients like vitamin B2, vitamin c, calcium, zinc, potassium, etc. But these vitamins and minerals occur at just trace levels and won’t do much to help meet government guidelines.
There’s also some science on the subject. One study found that honey may be beneficial in reducing glucose intolerance. In a separate study, researchers found that honey can help lower the body’s glucose levels when compared to dextrose and sucrose. On the flip side, honey is 40% fructose – and there are numerous studies linking fructose to various ailments and diseases.
Before your head starts to spin, let’s keep things simple. Table sugar isn’t good for you. And even though honey might be slightly better, it’s still a very unhealthy food choice. It’s like asking which is better: A head-on collision at 55 mph or 50 mph? While 50 mph is slightly better, neither collisions is advisable. And so is the case with sugar and honey.
If you really want to eat something healthy, go munch on some broccoli.
P.S. Keeping in mind that honey is calorie dense and packed with carbohydrates, it can be a good source of energy if you’re engaged in some sort of endurance activity – like a long kayak ride or hike. In that case, go for it! But in everyday life, most of us are getting way too much sugar and far too many calories.