Jul 20, 2011 | By
According to the National Honey Board, it takes approximately 60,000 bees to collect the pollen of over 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey. People have used honey as a traditional medicine because of its antiseptic and antibacterial effects. Although many consider honey a more natural sweetener compared to other types of sugar, honey remains a sugar and is mainly made of glucose and fructose, with a small amount of sucrose.
Sucrose is a disaccharide, a molecule made of two smaller molecules bonded together -- a molecule of glucose linked to a molecule of fructose. Glucose and fructose are monosaccharides because they have only one molecule each. Sucrose is in some fruits and vegetables, as well as in table sugar and other sweeteners made from sugar cane and beet sugar. Sucrose is part of the total carbohydrate content of a food and contains 4 calories per gram.
Sugar in Honey
There are different types of sugar found in honey. Although sucrose is one of them, it is not the main one. More precisely, 100 g of honey contains 17.3 g of carbohydrates, all of which are sugars. Of these 17.3 g of sugars, only 0.2 g corresponds to sucrose. The remaining sugars correspond to 8.6 g of free fructose, 7.5 g of free glucose, 0.3 g of maltose and 0.7 g of galactose, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. The total amount of sugars in honey is similar to that in other sweeteners. However, while the fructose and glucose do not bind together in honey, these monosaccharides link to form the disaccharide sucrose in table sugar.
The fact that the fructose and glucose are mostly in their free forms in honey, instead of joining as they do in table sugar, influences how they affect your body and blood sugar levels. Honey has a lower glycemic index value, ranging between 35 and 52, compared to the glycemic index of sucrose, which is moderate at 60. Pure glucose, or dextrose, has a very high glycemic index at 100. Low glycemic index sweetener results in a slower and smaller elevation in your blood sugar levels.
Honey in a Healthful Diet
The low glycemic index of honey makes it a good choice to as a sweetener in your diet. Use it instead of sucrose or table sugar without impairing your blood sugar levels. However, like all sweeteners, honey is not a source of important nutrients and you should only consume it occasionally in small quantities. Try using no more than 1/2 to 1 tsp. to sweeten your tea, plain yogurt, oatmeal or a smoothie.