Honey vs. Agave Nectar vs. Table Sugar

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July 25, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

For some time there has been an ongoing debate as to which sweetener is the “healthiest”. Is it honey, agave nectar, or regular granulated sugar? To be perfectly honest, sugar is sugar. Your body digests it the same despite the form in which it is ingested. Here are the facts:

Sugar is made from plants, typically sugarcane and beets. It provides about 16 calories/tsp. Honey is, of course, made by bees. It provides roughly 20 calories/tsp. The variation in calories is attributed to honey’s weight. Because it is thicker, one teaspoon of honey weighs more than sugar. Both sugar and honey are made up of glucose and fructose; however, honey is higher in fructose than sugar. The higher proportion of fructose in honey makes it sweeter; therefore you would need more sugar to reach the same sweetness as honey. Both sweeteners also contain the same types of minerals. (Due to the risk of foodborne illness, honey should not be given to children 12 mos. or younger because of their weaker immune systems. It is safe to introduce sugar in small amounts to a baby over 6 mos.).

 A trend for agave nectar recently caught on because of the claim that it is natural and therefore more “healthy”. Although a label may read ‘natural’, it is misleading. This labeling has not been defined by the USFDA. It may be best to also compare the ingredients to other products of its kind.

Agave nectar has about 20 calories/tsp. Like honey and sugar, agave is made up of both fructose and glucose. It can range from having 55% fructose to 90% fructose. Similarly to honey, agave is sweeter than sugar so you could ultimately consume the same amount of calories from agave as sugar to obtain the same sweetness.

 

BOTTOM LINE: sugar is sugar. Consuming too much can affect your body negatively because excess sugar (sugar that is not used for energy) is stored as fat in the body, regardless of its source. Consuming sugar from fruit is most desirable, because you also get the vitamins and fiber that the fruit contains. So the next time you’re craving something sweet, try to relieve your cravings by eating an apple, orange, or grapes!

 

Sources: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130703/health/health1.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-truth-about-agave?page=2

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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