Sugar and Raw Honey: A Comparison

What is the difference between sugar and raw honey? And is there a difference between raw honey and processed honey?

Raw honey contains a combination of sugars, including fructose and glucose, and smaller amounts of sucrose and maltose. It also contains small amounts of vitamins, minerals and a tiny bit of protein.

This combination does not raise the blood sugar nearly as rapidly as pure sugar, which has no nutrients included. Fructose, glucose, sucrose, (and all sugars) require vitamins for metabolism. Because sucrose (table sugar) has no nutrients, the body uses up its own nutrients to metabolize it. Raw honey is an excellent substitute for any recipe that asks for sugar. For your information, processed honey has been heated to ≥ 119° F. This destroys many of the nutrients, in a similar manner to the way that cooking vegetables removes many of their inherent nutrients.

8 Comments

  • November 16, 2009 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Very helpful information. I am learning daily bit by bit. Thank you

  • Sharon Beyler
    November 16, 2009 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    So if you use honey then raw honey is the way to go. But if you use raw honey in cooking, doesn’t that lose nutrients too? Because the heat would probably be greater than 119 degrees?

  • Marilyn
    November 16, 2009 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    Great question, Sharon! I would love to know too. I have some raw honey but it has crystalized very quickly so I have to heat it up anyway to use it.

  • Nina Shildneck
    November 16, 2009 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    I would like to know, too. Marilyn, I don’t think you have to heat crystalized honey very high to make it liquid again. Am I right, Dr. Gardner?

  • November 16, 2009 - 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I hope Dr. Gardner doesn’t mind me answering this. Even if you are going to bake with raw honey, and it is going to be cooked, in my opinion it is still the better option. Raw honey has an enzyme called amylase. This enzyme breaks down carbs. If you are making cookie batter, bread, pancake batter etc, leave the mixture for awhile before baking or cooking. The amylase gets to work on pre-digesting that grain for you. This works particularly well in breads that you let rise once, punch down and let rise again. You can also make cookie batter the night before, put it in the fridge, then bake the cookies the next day.
    The best way to melt raw honey is to put it in a glass jar (I use canning jars) then place in a pot of water. Turn your stove onto the lowest setting and melt the honey. The honey should stay liquid for about a month. I leave my glass jar on my stove top so that it regularly gets a little warmed and that keeps it liquid longer.

  • David Tuttle
    November 16, 2009 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

    The interesting thing about honey is that the more quickly it crystallizes, the better its quality. Honey from Egyptian tombs is still good (and granulated) after 2000 plus years. Honey has natural antibiotics as well. What I would like to know is why it works so well on burns.

  • Cara Patterson
    November 16, 2009 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Tiffany’s comment about the amylase is true. However, once you cook or heat raw honey above 105 degrees, you have denatured the enzymes and it becomes essentially the same as sugar. My husband, a chiropractor and beekeeper, is careful to drain the honey from the comb using no heat. I use rapadura or sucanat for baking, personally, and don’t eat a lot of baked goods anyway. If you have raw honey, never heat it. If it is raw and crystallizes, the crystals are small. It has a “creamy” consistency and is wonderful to use “as is”. Any honey that forms large crystals has been heated previously. Honey that touts “low temp” processing is not truly raw.

  • Crystal
    July 18, 2011 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

    This is a great discussion. I am a beekeeper and I love using honey or stevia for my sugar needs. Honey does not have to be warmed to high temperatures to decrystalize. I heat a coffee mug with water for a min or 2 in the microwave then put the jar in the coffee mug. The honey starts to reliquefy in a few mins and I am usually able to use it. Someone asked why honney works so well on burns. From what I’ve learnes 2 reaaons. 1 when it mixes with the salt on your skin it indergoes a chemical reaction that producea hydrogen pyroxidw. We all know this is good for killing bacteria and infections. Hydrogen pyroxide loses effectiveness over time, so since honey creates it right on your skin it is at peak effectiveness. 2 honey is great for the skin. Its a humectant and holds moisture in which helps the akin to heal faster. I got several nasty burns last week when some olive oil splattered out of a very hot pan onto my skin. I put honey all over the area and then iced the area. After about an hour the pain was gone and Ive had none since. Ive been burned several times and have never had such quick pain relief! Sorry for all the errors on here. Im typing on my phone and it wont let me see what Im typing!

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