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Honey is a thick, sticky liquid that’s naturally produced by bees. It’s been used for thousands of years for both cooking and its medicinal properties. When applied to wounds topically, honey acts as an anti-bacterial, anti-septic and aids in the healing process. It is also rich in antioxidants, contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals and has many health benefits associated with consumption, such as improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure.
Nutritionally, 1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar, which includes fructose, glucose, maltose and sucrose. It contains virtually no fibre, fat or protein.
In Australia, sugar is mostly extracted from sugar cane and is made up of glucose and fructose. Its primary use is to sweeten food, although excess consumption has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease, fatty liver and other chronic health issues. Sugar has no nutritional benefit and is commonly referred to as ‘empty calories.”
“In comparison to regular sugar, honey does have more nutritional value,” practising accredited dietician Natalie Von Bertouch tells New Idea Food. “Still, moderation is advised as just like with sugar, too much honey can lead to blood sugar issues, weight gain, increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Stick to a tablespoon or less per serving.”
What portion should one be swapped out in favour of the other?
As honey is sweeter than sugar, a little goes a long way. As a general rule, for every cup of sugar, substitute ½ to 2/3 of a cup of honey and add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Note: this will change the texture of the dish slightly as honey is a liquid. To make up for this, you’ll need to reduce the other liquids in your recipe (approx. 2 tablespoons of liquid for every cup of sugar you’re substituting.)
What should people know before swapping out sugar for honey?
As honey is viscous in nature, it’s not a suitable replacement for sugar in all recipes. It will make baked goods very dense and moist – something to consider if you’re wanting your brownies and cakes to turn out light and fluffy! It is also best to choose mild flavoured honey as certain varieties can be overpowering.
Do recipes made with honey as opposed to sugar need to be stored differently?
Substituting sugar for honey shouldn’t necessarily change how you store your food. Most baked goods will keep at room temperature for up to a week in an airtight container.
Note: if you’re avoiding sugar for health reasons, opt for raw honey. It is less processed than regular honey and therefore contains more beneficial nutrients and antioxidants.
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