Q&A: What are the benefits of honey?

Question:

"Many thanks for the opportunity to ask a question, one most likely of interest to others as well. For reasons that are now obvious, I avoid processed sugar that comes in most biscuits, cakes and soft drinks. However, I do add honey to my morning muesli concoction that I put together. Thus, my question centres around honey, as some (experts or otherwise) claim that honey is no different to the body than processed sugar. However, I have tended to believe those who say that honey is a healthy option and that in addition to the quick energy it provides, it contains various other properties within its contents, such as those that assist in healing. Perhaps you could bring a bit of clarity to the issue of “to honey or not to honey”.

-Ira

Answer:

Dr Sarah Jarvis say: “Huge amounts of money have been made on the back of claims that honey of various sorts (particularly ‘manuka’ honey) had different, supposedly health-giving or curative properties. I’m sorry to tell you that there is no high-quality evidence that honey is any better than other forms of ‘free sugar’. Free sugars includes any sugars added to food or those naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

As a nation, Public Health England recommends that we consume 6% of our calorie intake from free sugars – our average is twice that, at 12%. While all free sugars provide ‘quick energy’ by raising your blood sugar levels quickly, these levels drop very quickly too. Slowly absorbed foods, such as wholemeal foods and whole fruit and vegetables, provide a much more sustainable source of energy, as well as providing micronutrients, fibre, vitamins etc. Free sugar, including honey, has none of these.

If you are keeping your overall intake of free sugars low by avoiding biscuits, cakes and soft drinks, you are doing far better than the average Briton! You don’t need to deprive yourself of honey in moderation, but don’t assume it has any significant advantages over any other form of processed sugar”.

-Dr Sarah Jarvis