Houston, we have a problem. This problem is that we have a tendency to believe that any food produced naturally must be good for us. One of the best examples disproving this point is the sticky, sweet nectar produced by bees from flowers and beloved by a certain Mr. Winnie the Pooh- aka honey. If Pooh were a real bear, he would be devastated to learn that honey is anything but healthful and heavenly. Thank goodness Pooh isn’t real and we won’t need to break the bad news to him.
I just can’t love honey given what I know it does to our bodies when we process it. Honey is a concentrated mixture of fructose, glucose and sucrose with no notable phytochemical or antioxidant load (see vitamin and mineral chart below). Just like sugar, the nutrients in honey are so few that they are almost non-existent. Add this to the fact that honey is high in fructose and contains more glucose than most fruits and you get a food that puts stress on our bodies, especially our liver and kidneys. There are 64 calories in one tablespoon of honey and all of these calories are in the form of sugar. That’s 17.25 grams of sugar in just one tablespoon!
There are hundreds of studies on the metabolic consequences of eating too many sweets, but honey is in its own league of maliciousness because it has no fiber to ease absorption or any notable phytochemicals, vitamins or minerals. The same applies for maple syrup. In general, liquid sweeteners are stressful on our bodies because of the amount of concentrated glucose ingested and how quickly it is absorbed.
Websites on the internet abound with claims that honey is full of antioxidants like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. However, the reality is that the quantity of these nutrients in honey is insignificant compared to the quantity in other foods. Per calorie, honey has very few nutrients. Upon researching the vitamin and mineral content in a serving of honey, it becomes obvious that claims asserting that honey is high in vitamins like B6, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin are completely false. Watch this video by the enormously knowledgeable and prolific Michael Greger M.D., who writes and produces videos for nutritionfacts.org. You can view the video by clicking HERE.
In reality, there is not much difference between sugar and honey. Honey, whether raw or cooked, is almost all sugar and no fiber. Fiber slows down of rate of carbohydrate absorption from the small intestine, delaying the after-meal flow of glucose into the blood. Without fiber, glucose is absorbed rapidly. A surge of glucose into the bloodstream at a rapid rate leads to an insulin spike. The more insulin spikes we have, the greater our likelihood of developing type II diabetes.
The recipes you will find on this website only contain sweeteners in the form of whole fruit for these reasons. Even agave nectar, which is in vogue as a healthful alternative to most liquid sweeteners, is quite bad for us. Agave nectar has more fructose per calorie than high fructose corn syrup and is anything but natural. In general, go the fruit route and you will be in good standing with your body. Whole fruits like bananas, peaches, mangos and dates, are rich in fiber. With their high water, high nutrient and low calorie content, they are perfect choices to keep you feeling full and your nutrient levels at optimal amounts.
Vitamin and mineral content per 60-calorie serving of various foods (data obtained from http://nutritiondata.self.com):
|Vitamin B6||0 mg||0.4 mg||0.6 mg||0.3 mg||0.1 mg||O mg||0.1 mg|
|Thiamin||0 mg||0.2 mg||0.3 mg||0.3 mg||0.1 mg||0 mg||0 mg|
|Niacin||0 mg||1.4 mg||2.0 mg||10.5 mg||0.34 mg||0.4 mg||0.4 mg|
|Riboflavin||0 mg||0.2 mg||0.5 mg||0.6 mg||0 mg||0.1 mg||0 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid||0 mg||0.2 mg||0.2 mg||5.1 mg||0.2 mg||0 mg||0.2 mg|
|Iron||0.1 mg||2.2 mg||7.1 mg||4.2 mg||1.0 mg||0.4 mg||0.2 mg|
|Magnesium||0.4 mg||45.6 mg||207.13 mg||28.2 mg||8.3 mg||28.1 mg||13.0 mg|
|Manganese||0 mg||1.0 mg||2.3 mg||0.3 mg||20.1 mg||0.23 mg||0.1 mg|
|Phosphorus||0.8 mg||75.0 mg||129 mg||204.0 mg||65.6 mg||51.0 mg||15.0 mg|
|Potassium||10.9 mg||600.0 mg||1460.7 mg||834.0 mg||192.1 mg||73.9 mg||167 mg|
|Zinc||0 mg||0.6 mg||1.4 mg||2.1 mg||0.51 mg||0.4 mg||0.1 mg|