How Many Calories are in Honey?
Is Honey high in calories?
Counting honey calories is a sticky proposition. While honey is a sweetener, and it does have a fair number of calories by volume, raw honey also has some important side benefits which make it an important part of a healthy diet.
SO HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN HONEY?
On average, there are 21 calories in a teaspoon of honey. This converts to around 64 honey calories per tablespoon. But not all honey varieties are the same. Honey calories per tablespoon can range from a low to 60 to a high of 70. But most honey companies and suppliers use 64 calories per tablespoon as the accepted norm.
RAW HONEY VERSUS PROCESSED HONEY
There are two types of honey sold in stores - raw honey and processed honey. Raw honey has not been pasteurized or filtered and is brought to the consumer pretty much as the bees made it. (For more on that, read How Do Bees Make Honey?) Raw honey may be warmed slightly to aid with bottling, but that's it. Processed honey is pasteurized by heating it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and then cooling it quickly. The honey is further processed by pushing it through a fine mesh filter at high pressure. Honey is processed this way to create a clear looking product, and it also prevent the honey from crystallizing (also called "sugaring"). This processing pretty much degrades or destroys the important vitamins and nutrients found in raw honey (more on that later). But when it comes to honey calories, the caloric content of raw honey and processed honey is pretty much the same. There are, on average, 64 calories in a tablespoon of both raw and processed honey.
How does honey compare to other foods?
Compared to some foods, such as raw vegetables, honey is pretty high in calories. But there are more calories in a slice of chocolate cake that in an equivalent weight of honey. It is important to remember that honey is a sweetener and, as such, it should be used in moderation.
What about adulterated honey?
Nearly all of the honey that we eat is made by the European honeybee (apis mellifera). Other insects such as bumblebees, stingless bees, wasps and ants also make honey from nectar, but in much smaller quantities. Honeybees are hard working critters that fly from flower to flower, collecting tiny drops of nectar and storing it in their honey stomachs. There, the nectar is combined with enzymes that "cook" the nectar and break down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars (mainly fructose and glucose). The bees also remove a lot of the water from the nectar before depositing it into the beeswax comb. When you are buying raw, unprocessed honey, you are getting the honey exactly as the bees made it. Unfortunately, some unethical producers add things to honey, such as sugar water or corn syrup in order to increase sales. This is know as "adulterated" honey and should be avoided. Always buy pure, raw honey from a reliable source.
is honey better than sugar?
Yes, for several reasons. First, honey tastes sweeter than refined sugar, so you can use less in your food. Second, for most people, honey does not cause spikes in blood sugar in the same manner that white sugar does. Third, raw honey contains additional, important nutrients. Have you ever heard the phrase: "White sugar is empty calories"? That's because white sugar contains sugars and nothing else. But raw honey contains additional nutrients, including amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. These phytochemicals have anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties, which all contribute to a stronger immune system and better health. Fourth, honey just tastes better. There are over 300 different honey varieties in the world. Each one is unique with some pretty amazing flavor profiles. Sugar just tastes like . . . sugar.
RAW HONEY CONTAINS BENEFICIAL NUTRIENTS
David Wolfe, the author of "Superfoods" explains that "Bee products are considered to be one of the most spiritual and magical foods on the planet, as well as one of the top superfoods and sources of concentrated nutrition." Raw honey contains natural sugars (glucose and fructose) plus additional beneficial nutrients such as amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. So is raw honey good for you? It sure is. Democritus, a Greek philosopher who lived to the age of 109, explained: "The secret of my health is applying honey inside and oil outside."
SOME HEALTH BENEFITS OF RAW HONEY
Honey has been used for many generations, and in many parts of the world, for a natural remedy against sore throats and coughs. In fact, some pediatricians actually recommend trying honey first, before using over-the-counter cough syrup. Honey coats the back of your throat to soothe irritated mucous membranes, and the anti-microbial properties of raw honey go to work on the infection. Sugar can't do that. For an ever stronger natural remedy, try some herbal tea with honey and a splash of apple cider vinegar. But remember that raw honey should never be given to children under 1 year old.
Here are some other health benefits of eating raw honey:
- Boosts your immune system
- Promotes better sleep
- Improves gut health and digestion
- May provide seasonal allergy relief
SHOULD YOU INCLUDE RAW HONEY IN YOUR REGUALR DIET?
Absolutely. The unique flavors of different raw honey varieties, the health benefits of raw honey, and the pleasing sensation as the honey dissolves on your tongue -- these are all good reasons to eat quality, raw honey. But keep in mind that honey calories can add up if you eat too much. So enjoy honey in moderation as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.