A well-known proverb says, “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Many individuals drink honey in their tea and spread it on bread, but wonder what it really is. Honey is a natural sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Bees produce honey as a food and energy source for times of scarcity, when fresh food is hard to find.
- A typical beehive can make up to 400 pounds of honey each year.
- There are a variety of colors and flavors of honey, depending on the region and floral source.
- Honey is produced in every state.
- In the US, the average person consumes 1.3 pounds of honey per year.
- There are many forms of honey including raw, dried, filtered, and crystallized.
- Honey is primarily 82% carbohydrates with 38.2% from fructose and 31% from glucose.
- Unlike other sweeteners, honey contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants called flavonoids, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
According to Choose MyPlate, honey is an added sugar. A healthy eating pattern limits added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day. Reading the ingredient label on packaged foods can help to identify added sugars. One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories and a tablespoon of sugar contains 45 calories. However, honey tastes sweeter than sugar, so you can use less of it.
Substituting Honey for Sugar in Recipes
- Use 1 part honey for every 1-1/4 parts sugar.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for every cup of honey to reduce the acidity and weight of honey.
- Reducing oven temperatures by 25 degrees helps prevent overbrowning.
- Before measuring honey, coat the inside of a measuring cup with water to minimize stickiness.
Concerns for Infants
Honey is not recommended for infants under one year of age to avoid risk of infant botulism, which is a unique form of food poisoning. This is due to their gastrointestinal tracts not being mature enough to fight the bacterium spores that could be present in honey. These spores are consumed without any negative concerns by children and adults.
Check out the National Honey Board for recipes using honey, or view the following resources for more information.
- Michigan State University Extension. Benefits of Honey. (2015)
- University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. Is Honey the Same as Sugar? (2017)
- University of Arkansas Research & Extension. Honey Versus Sugar – Which is Healthier? (2018)