Yes, Honey Is Healthier Than High Fructose Corn Syrup, Another Reporter Gets It Wrong

Posted by
September 23, 2015

In the Huffington Post article, “Honey isn’t any Healthier than Corn Syrup or regular sugar for that matter”, author Suzy Strutner skips some important science.  While Ms Strutner points out that HFCS is different from “regular sugar” and many of the recent articles about raw vs. processed honey align with her point, she overlooks important science that underscores the difference between HFCS and honey.

While Ms Strutner is correct that the chemical compounds of HFCS, Sucrose (table sugar) and Honey are all chemically similar (though not identical) they differ widely in how the body processes them and what they contribute to the body.  Table sugar is about a 50/50 split of fructose and glucose, Honey is generally 30% glucose, 40% fructose with the rest made up of water, other sugar types and dextrin (a type of starchy fiber), HFCS roughly contains 55% fructose and 42% glucose. However, when you consume table sugar the body uses enzymes to break down the fructose and glucose bond and processes them thru the liver stimulating insulin which triggers the release of a hormone called Leptin signaling the body that it is full. Due to the un-bonded nature of the fructose and glucose in the HFCS the fructose goes straight to the liver and is ingested and stored as fat leaving you hungry regardless of the amount of food you have consumed.

In one study, at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, one group of participants was fed just fructose and they reported feeling hungry and irritable. The group fed pure glucose reported feeling full and satisfied. In another study researchers compared the effects of honey and refined fructose feeding on rats. Rats being fed fructose had raised triglycerides more than those fed honey. Those being fed fructose had decreased blood levels of vitamin E, while those being fed honey did not, suggesting less oxidative stress. Fructose also promoted more inflammation than honey.

Additionally studies suggest that Honey provides many benefits that HFCS cannot, from being an antioxidant to helping cuts and burns heal faster, easing a cough and curing a hangover. Recent research revealed that less-refined sweeteners, including honey, contain more antioxidants and other potentially beneficial compounds than refined table sugar. “A study published in January in the Journal of the American Dietetic Assn. showed that using less-refined sweeteners instead of white sugar could add the same amount of antioxidants found in a serving of nuts or purple fruits, but that molasses and date sugar contained the highest levels of antioxidants. Other studies have shown that the antioxidant content of honey depends on what sort of plant nectar it is made from.”

Honey contains over a hundred different compounds, not just fructose and glucose. It has a small amount of minerals, amino acids (many of which have yet to be identified and cataloged), and vitamins….It’s a Whole food by any definition and the human body was designed to process whole foods, refined food-like products, not so much. They produce different results and effects when you ingest them.  “Eating a handful of berries”says Researcher Mark Sisson “isn’t the same as sprinkling an equal amount of berry-extracted sugar in your water and drinking it”.